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 funding opportunity and related software development
- ‘blue skies’ technology and instrumentation development applicable to the above areas.
Find out more about the scope of this opportunity in the astronomy research grant application guidelines 2022 (PDF, 387KB).
Mars exploration and sample return
For research related to this area, you should first check if the UK Space Agency (UKSA) 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 UKSA. For definitions of TRL, see the STFC project research and development scheme.
The STFC project research and development (PRD) scheme (currently suspended and under review) considers non-space mission related proposals at TRL 4 to 6. The UKSA considers space mission related proposals at TRL 5 and above.
What you can request to fund
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. For example, if you currently have two postdoctoral research associate posts, we wouldn’t expect to see this increase to 10 posts.
A large increase in posts will have little hope of being supported.
For guidance on requesting resources, see the astronomy research grant application guidelines 2022 (PDF, 387KB).
See also the STFC guidance for applicants.
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 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.
What we will not fund
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 extrasolar science, in rare cases you may be able to request resources under both funding opportunities. The panel will examine these cases closely.