We are looking to fund projects that cover theory, including modelling, simulation and related software development, observation, experiment and new technology research, relevant to all aspects of solar system science.
Proposals could include projects relating to:
- solar physics and heliospheric physics
- space-based terrestrial magnetospheric science and fundamental space plasma
- physics (excluding the impact on the Earth’s neutral atmosphere)
- planetary science, including the surfaces and interiors, atmospheres, ionospheres and magnetospheres of the solar system bodies other than the Earth
- studies of other solar system bodies including comets, asteroids and meteorites
- laboratory studies of solar system material such as meteorites, returned samples, solar system analogues, other laboratory physics relevant to the area of the call and related software development
- blue skies technology/instrumentation development applicable to the above areas.
Find out more about the scope of this opportunity in the full astronomy research grant application guidelines 2021 (PDF, 498KB).
Mars exploration and sample return
For research related to this area you should first check if the UK Space Agency Aurora science programme is more suitable than this opportunity. Your research would then be out of this opportunity’s remit.
Support for technology development projects
We support proposals at Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) 1 to 4 or equivalent.
For funding opportunities that support higher TRL proposals, see the UK Space Agency. For definitions of Technology Readiness Levels see the STFC Project Research and Development scheme.
What you can request to fund
You can request support for investigators, researchers, technicians and associated students involved in the research programme.
You should be realistic about the number of posts this funding can support. We advise you to mostly request support for existing posts and only request a small number of additional posts.
You can request funding to pay for equipment, or that contributes to its total cost. Equipment can be shared across a number of projects or be for a specific task.
In general, STFC will contribute around 50% of the cost of equipment items, although this will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
STFC will contribute 100% of the cost only if the support is for instrument development and you have permission from the office to apply for this level of funding.
For more guidance on requesting resources see the full astronomy research grant application guidelines 2021 (PDF, 498KB).
See also the STFC research grants handbook.
New applicant scheme
There are additional terms for this scheme:
- You cannot be funded on more than one grant. For example, if you hold STFC-supported resources at your previous university, you should negotiate the relocation of those resources.
- You cannot hold resources on both this new applicant scheme and either a consolidated or consortium grant at your previous university.
- You must be the sole investigator.
- You can only apply once at any institution for the new applicant scheme.
- You can apply for funding for a minimum of a year and a maximum of three years (or until the issue of the department’s next consolidated or consortium grant).
- You can apply for limited resources to allow you to begin to establish a research programme.
Out of scope
For astronomy and astrophysics research beyond the solar system you should apply under the separate Astronomy observation and theory opportunity.
If your research activities have significant overlap between solar system science and extra-solar science, in rare cases you may be able to request resources under both funding opportunities. The panel will examine these cases closely.