Portuguese Space Agency launches competition for doctoral scholarships in Science and Space Exploration

Applications are open for the first doctoral scholarship competition promoted by the Portuguese Space Agency. The Agency aims to stimulate space research and technological development, with the objectives to strengthen national competency and to promote socio-economic growth.

Unlike many spiral galaxies, UGC 12588 observed with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, displays neither a bar of stars across its centre nor the classic prominent spiral arm pattern. Instead, to a viewer, its circular, white and mostly unstructured centre makes this galaxy more reminiscent of a cinnamon bun than a mega-structure of stars and gas in space.

This Monday, Portugal Space launches the first competition in its program to award grants for doctoral study, promoted with the support of the Foundation for Science and Technology (Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, or FCT).

This first competition is intended for students who will pursue their doctoral degrees in the areas of Science and Space Exploration and Sustainability and In-Situ Resource Use, involving the fields of astronomy (astrophysics, cosmology, etc.), Astrobiology, Astrogeology, and Scientific and Space Instrumentation, among other related fields.

“One of the goals of this first call is to reinforce the collaboration of the Portuguese scientific community with international partners, and with the industry, in order to advance knowledge in our understanding of the universe, in earth sciences and space exploration,” explains Marta Gonçalves, head of the Doctoral Scholarship Program for Portugal Space.

The call for applications opening now will award up to four doctoral scholarships. The themes of Science and Space Exploration and Sustainability and In-Situ Resource Use have been selected because Space Sciences are fundamental not only for exploration and knowledge of the universe, but also for the scientific community studying the planet Earth, thus contributing to the quality of life of humanity.

“The recent decades and the history of space exploration lead us to the conclusion that the Space Sciences are a foundation for social and economic development because they are deeply linked to technological evolution,” Marta Gonçalves says, emphasizing the importance of the transfer of technology in areas such as medicine, telecommunications and energy, among others. “Research and development activities under microgravity conditions, for example, have enabled the creation of new materials, and the exploration of new and improved pharmaceutical and medical applications, that have a significant impact on life on Earth.”

Supporting the Formation of Qualified Resources

The Doctoral Scholarship Program of the Portuguese Space Agency aims to respond to Axis 3 of the Portugal Space 2030 strategy, which responds to the need to stimulate technical skills by training and attracting qualified human resources, and promoting activities in collaboration with European and international partners.

The national space sector has made progress over the past 20 years, but still has great challenges and obstacles to overcome in its efforts to increase its size, influence and competitiveness. Particularly considering its inherent capacity for economic and social impact, “the Portuguese Space Agency sees the need to strengthen support for the development of new skills in earth and space sciences, and space technologies,” says Ricardo Conde, president of the Portuguese Space Agency.

To this end, the Doctoral Scholarship Program is one of the Agency’s measures to strengthen research, development and advanced training projects relevant to the country’s industrial and scientific progress, with the goal of ensuring sustainable long-term development of all space-related activities in Portugal. It also aims to reinforce collaboration between academia, research and industry, to fill the gaps that currently exist in the space ecosystem.

Beyond research in Science and Space Exploration and Sustainability and In-Situ Resource Use, the Portuguese Space Agency is also preparing scholarships in the areas of Technology and Systems for Space Exploration, Space Security, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, making use of Space for Application Development; Communications, Navigation, Space Cyber-Resilience, New Business Models in Space, Economics, Politics and Space Law.

The Doctoral Scholarships awarded by Portugal Space are supported by funds from FCT, under the Protocol for Collaboration signed between FCT and the Portuguese Space Agency. The application process will take place between 30 November 2020 and 29 January 2021, through the Open Space Innovation Platform – OSIP of the European Space Agency.

The applications will be evaluated by a panel of personalities linked to the space sciences, led by Paulo Garcia, from CENTRA (Center for Astrophysics and Gravitation), which will be accompanied by Alexandre Correia (University of Coimbra), Aline Vidotto (Trinity College, Dublin), Mário João Monteiro (IA), and Zita Martins (IST, University of Lisbon).

Relevant information

Notice of Call

Portugal Space
30 of November, 2020