The Universidade do Porto and the Universidade de Lisboa are the home of the largest research institute in this field, the Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço (IA), which resulted from the merging of the Centro de Astrofisica da Universidade do Porto and the Centro de Astronomia e Astrofísica da Universidade de Lisboa. Both research centers were top performers in national research evaluation exercises, while IA has been classified with the rank, “excellent”, in the last international evaluation (2014).
IA participates in various international programs and projects (some supported by the European Commission), including also European Southern Observatory (ESO) and European Space Agency (ESA) instrumentation projects and missions. IA (both at Porto and at Lisbon) acts as Host Institution for projects conducing to Doctoral Degrees in Astronomy of their Universities through the Faculdade de Ciencias da Universidade do Porto (Departamento de Física e Astronomia) or the Faculdade de Ciencias da Universidade de Lisboa (Departamento de Física), under supervision or co-supervision of its researchers.
Students are offered unique conditions in terms of space, equipment, library, and access to the largest group of researchers in Astronomy in Portugal as well as to international observing infrastructures, essential for the development of research projects leading to a PhD Thesis. Students are integrated in ongoing research projects, always in partnership with prestigious european Astronomy research institutions with which IA have privileged relations. Together, the teams correspond to over 60 researchers with a PhD, working actively on observational, technological, theoretical and computational issues of space sciences. There are numerous collaborations with international teams (over 90% of publications are co-authored with researchers outside Portugal) and regular recruitment of foreign experts for the teams. Together, the host institutions welcome over 70 visitors per year, for joint work and collaboration and participate in several major international projects (ESO, ESA and others). IA leds or participates (past and going) in several Marie Curie actions on training and cooperation, including initial training networks (ITN).
The training in instrumentation benefits from large optical lab infrastructures and the expertise of more than 20 years in designing and implementing optical systems for industry, space, metrology and astronomy. In fact, IA instrumentation group is one of the portuguese R&D groups with the largest number of ESA contracts, and has participated in ESO instruments in which Portugal contributed, namely CAMCAO and ESPRESSO.