Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Astronomy and space science

STFC’s astronomy and space science programme supports scientists investigating some of the biggest questions in astrophysics, cosmology and solar system science.

Partners involved:
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

The scope and what we're doing

Astronomy is one of the oldest branches of science, fascinating humans from the earliest times. Using telescopes and satellites to observe the skies, as well as theoretical and simulation work, astronomers study how the Universe began and evolved to its present state, how galaxies form and why our solar system looks as it does.

STFC’s astronomy and space science programme provides support for a wide range of facilities, research groups and individuals in order to investigate some of the highest priority questions in astrophysics, cosmology and solar system science.

Astronomers and space scientists at universities around the UK are some of the world’s best, working on answers to these and other questions identified in our science challenges.

Our programme aims to address each of the four key science questions in the science challenges.

STFC provides grants to universities and research institutions to support the development of generic technologies, astronomy theory and the exploitation of facilities in astronomy and space science. Much of this funding goes to support postdoctoral research associates, which are the backbone of the UK’s research effort.

Space science

Support for space science is delivered through the UK Space Agency for project build activities, and through STFC research grants for mission science exploitation.

STFC’s RAL Space and UK Astronomy Technology Centre support their own programmes of technology and facility development.

Opportunities, support and resources available

STFC provides support to researchers in various ways, including through astronomy research grants, fellowships, studentships, telescope time and other funding opportunities.

Search for the latest funding opportunities.

You can use STFC resources and facilities for your research and use international facilities supported by STFC.

Find out about facilities and resources you can use.

Community meetings

We held an Astronomy Community webinar on 29 April 2024 about an update from STFC.

Watch a recording of the webinar via Zoom.

View the webinar slides.

Who to contact

Astronomy awards

Kim Burchell

Astronomy facility and development projects

Chris Woolford, Head of Astronomy Facilities

RAL Space


Square Kilometre Array

George Madden

Governance, management and panels

STFC’s astronomy and space science programme takes account of the highest priority projects and facilities identified by STFC’s science board in its programmatic reviews and science roadmapping exercises.

These take input from the advisory panels (Astronomy Advisory Panel, Solar System Advisory Panel and Particle Astrophysics Advisory Panel), and where appropriate reference the key science questions for European astronomy and space science, as published by Astronet on behalf of the European astronomy community.

Apart from applications concerned with the development or operation of some types of instrumentation or database, for which special arrangements exist, astronomy grant applications are assessed by the Astronomy Grants Panel.

Additionally applications for travel and subsistence to support competitively awarded science observation time are assessed by the Panel for the Allocation of Telescope Time.

Last updated: 23 May 2024

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help improve our online products and services.