Portugal Space launches two new calls for doctoral grants with FCT support

The Portuguese Space Agency will award PhD scholarships to support research and development of projects in Space Safety and Earth Observation.

This Wednesday, 21 July, the Portuguese Space Agency (Portugal Space) launches two new calls for proposals to award PhD scholarships in space-related research areas. With the support of the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), the new calls aim to attract PhD students with ideas and projects related to Space Safety and Earth Observation. Up to six scholarships will be granted, with application deadlines until September 12. 

“The Portuguese Space Agency’s PhD Scholarship aims to strengthen research, development and advanced training projects that are relevant to the long-term and sustainable growth of all space-related activities in Portugal, and therefore also target the country’s industrial and scientific progress,” says Marta Gonçalves, project manager of the Science and Education area at Portugal Space, responsible for the PhD Scholarship program at the agency.

The Space Security competition is aimed at students who wish to pursue doctoral studies in the fields of Space Weather, Space Debris and/or Planetary Defense. Other areas of doctoral study relevant to this call for scholarship applications include the development of tools that combine Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for the management of space debris; development of tools for the creation or analysis of databases of space debris; and development of solutions for recycling, reuse or manufacturing in orbit as a means to mitigate space debris and increase the sustainability of space operations. 

“The threat of space debris or events associated with space weather are increasingly evident and their consequences can be devastating, considering humanity’s growing dependence on space activities and assets. These are strategic areas for the Portuguese Space Agency and we need everyone’s contribution, from academia and industry, to ensure that we have projects that allow us to maintain a leadership position in research and technology development in this sector,” says Inês d’Ávila, Space Security project manager.

Thus, this call will also make it possible to promote research in space meteorology with the aim of creating a unified space meteorological system capable of predicting and preparing humanity for future solar events. Also included are projects aimed at planetary defence, namely research and development (R&D) for a rapid response in the event of an impact of a large asteroid with the Earth.

The Portuguese Space Agency PhD Scholarship program, promoted with the support of FCT, aims to cultivate closer relations between academia, research centres and companies, thereby bridging gaps in the space ecosystem, while also promoting ever greater articulation between space and non-space sectors. Earth Observation is a field that highly enhances interconnections among different sectors of activity, and is, therefore, one of the fields covered by this new phase of the scholarship competition.

The call-for-applications in the area of Earth Observation (EO) covers R&D activities for intelligent space systems, namely for technology development for EO satellite constellations, use of satellite data and artificial intelligence (AI) for the creation of applications. It also involves studies that combine Earth Observation and AI for the design of solutions that support sustainable development goals and the assessment, mitigation and adaptation to climate change impacts.

“The processing and analysis of data collected by satellite, which may include the use of AI, will be fundamental for the expansion of the downstream sector in Portugal, namely for the development of applications and services with high potential to contribute to other economic sectors not directly linked to space“, says Hugo Costa, Director at the Portuguese Space Agency. “We are looking for PhD students with disruptive ideas to develop advanced methods for EO and for improving analytical frameworks for Big Data from space and that create tools to convert space data into relevant information and to enhance applications.”

The opening of applications for doctoral grants in the areas of Space Safety and Earth Observation comes at a time when the results of the first two calls are being prepared for publication. Up to seven grants in the fields of Space Science and Exploration, Sustainability and Use of In-situ Resources and Space Exploration: Research and Technology Development are at stake.   



Space Security

Call for Proposals


Earth Observation

Call for Proposals


Portugal Space
26 of July, 2021