This funding covers up to 3 years of research activity starting from 1 April 2024.
Applications to the Small Award scheme may contain a single project (requests for multi-project small awards will be rejected) which must follow the following resource guidance:
- 3 years maximum, all awards must start on 1 April 2024
- maximum of 1 full time equivalent (FTE) of postdoctoral research assistant (PDRA) effort (the panel recognises that technical or lab-based projects may require fractions of the time of specialist PDRAs, but this should not exceed the overall envelope of 1 FTE of PDRA effort per project)
- maximum 0.20 FTE of applicant time, with the principal investigator expected to request a minimum of 0.10 FTE to lead and manage the project
- there may also occasionally be projects which involve only investigator time or investigator plus technician time
This funding opportunity is part of STFC and will be assessed by the Astronomy Grants Panel (AGP). The AGP offers 2 funding opportunities for Small Award applications. The same deadline applies to both funding opportunities.
Areas of research
This funding opportunity covers applications for astronomy observation and astronomy theory. We welcome applications for funding to support theory, including modelling, simulation and related software development, observation, experiment and new technology research, relevant to all aspects of astronomy and astrophysics beyond the solar system.
- stellar physics, including star formation and extra-solar planetary systems (studies of the Sun as part of a programme of stellar physics may fit here)
- studies of transient phenomena
- the interstellar medium and galactic astronomy
- extra-galactic astronomy and cosmology
- the astrophysical aspects of particle astrophysics, where particle astrophysics includes dark matter, the origin of cosmic rays and gravity
- blue skies technology or instrumentation development applicable to the above areas (technology readiness levels (TRL) 1 to 4)
- laboratory astrophysics, including software development, relevant to the above programmes
If your application is in 1 of the following research areas we strongly advise you contact the STFC astronomy awards team to check the remit ahead of submitting:
The AGP will consider funding astronomy and space science applications at TRLs 1 to 4 or their equivalent.
Find out about eligibility of TRL.
Modest upgrades to existing equipment, related to the delivery of science within the course of the project requested, may be considered. The UK Space Agency (UKSA) will consider space mission-related applications at TRL 5 and above.
Gravitational wave research
The AGP will consider funding support for some aspects of gravitational wave research. STFC is considering the peer review route for gravitational wave exploitation science and will provide specific guidance with respect to this in the near future. Applicants should contact the STFC astronomy awards team for urgent advice as required.
Space weather and the impact of the Sun on terrestrial systems
STFC will support non-Earth-orientated solar-terrestrial physics research for example, fundamental space plasma physics not related to the Earth. STFC will also fund space-based facilities (spacecraft, instruments and operations) for solar terrestrial physics and their associated primary exploitation.
Natural Environment Research Council is responsible for funding solar terrestrial physics where the primary goal is to understand the Earth’s environment from the deep interior to the upper atmosphere (including, mesosphere, thermosphere and ionosphere).
Mars exploration and sample return
Studies related to the UKSA’s programme of aurora science (Mars exploration and sample return) should be addressed to the UKSA (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the first instance, as separate funding may be available.