The scientific priorities and strategy for PhD::SPACE are defined by:
- PhD topics and advisers.
- The existing expertise at the research institutes.
- Priority areas in space sciences of the programme.
The Astronomy projects being developed at the European Southern Observatory (ESO), of which Portugal is a member, cover some of the leading areas of scientific activity in the world, such as the sub-millimeter with the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) or the future search for exoplanets with ESPRESSO. In addition, the current and future missions of the European Space Agency (ESA, of which Portugal is also a member state), namely Venus Express, Herschel, Planck, Gaia, Cheops, Solar Orbiter, Euclid, Juice and James Webb Space Telescope, will further add to the challenges and visibility of Astronomy.
New domains will be open to observation. In parallel, innovative diagnostic tools and techniques are being integrated, as well as new ways of accessing and operating the facilities. The large telescopes in operation, and the ones under construction or being designed, such as the European-Extreme Large Telescope (E-ELT), real data collecting machines, require innovative technologies, complex systems and techniques for the data handling, processing and analysis as well as new attitudes in the way astronomers access their own data. Further to that, the use of the “Virtual Observatories”, built upon various data bases, which include data from ground and space observations, also add new challenges and opportunities. Consequently, the role of Space Sciences, and Astronomy and Astrophysics in particular, as a privileged area for multidisciplinary training, across various fields of science and technology, shines out clearly.
The detailed priorities of the training to be pursued by PhD::SPACE will be reviewed on a regular basis by the Scientific Committee, as the program is implemented from Call 2014 to Call 2017. The list of PhD research projects offered to the successful candidates will aim at following the development of the different fields in Space Sciences and the strategic need to consolidate the participation of Portugal in the major large projects of ESO and ESA.