Space research

Universe-changing research

Discover pioneering research work taking place at the University — and meet some of the researchers behind it

Space research helps address fundamental questions about our place in the Universe and allows us to prove or disprove scientific theories developed on Earth, such as gravity, the atmosphere and the geological evolution of other planets.

Public imagination is often focused on space exploration such as rockets, spacecraft, and Mars missions, and in Portsmouth we are in the process of developing a new Mission Design facility to help people design spacecraft and missions. In addition to these exciting and inspiring missions, space science has a huge impact on our lives on Earth keeping us connected, improving our health and protecting the environment. Through our globally-important research and innovation in space technologies, the University of Portsmouth is helping to strengthen the UK as a world-class space nation.

We are currently working to develop a Portsmouth Research Institute for Space Missions (PRISM) which will bring all our space activity under one roof, including mission design, and will be closely connected to our Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG). The ICG is a world-leading astronomy centre with an international reputation for research excellence that covers theoretical cosmology, observational cosmology, extragalactic astrophysics, and gravitational waves. 

ICG scientists are also turning their expertise to analysing astronomical data to solve problems on Earth. For example, they work with geographers and others to predict natural disasters and combat climate change and are using algorithms used for detecting exploding stars to spot changes in moles to detect early warning signs for skin cancer.

The University also plays a critical role in supporting space industries in the UK: we're home to ASTA Technology, the UK’s only ESA-accredited provider of space engineering training, the lead partner of the South Coast Centre of Excellence for Satellite Applications and a founding partner of Space South Central.

Portsmouth Research Institute for Space Missions (PRISM) Case for Development

Portsmouth Research Institute for Space Missions (PRISM)

Partnering with industry to make the UK a leading space nation. Find out more, and how you can partner with us, in our brochure.

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World Space Week 2022: Space and sustainability

Find out more about how our space research contributes to sustainability on Earth.

Explore related news, blogs and podcasts


The image shows the galaxy's location within a hefty cluster of galaxies called MACS J1149.6+2223

First-of-its-kind measurement of the Universe’s expansion rate weighs in on a longstanding debate in physics and astronomy

12 May 2023

First-of-its-kind measurement of the Universe’s expansion rate weighs in on a longstanding debate in physics and astronomy
Universe stock image

First glimpse of what gravity looks like on cosmological scales

4 November 2022

First glimpse of what gravity looks like on cosmological scales
A rocket flies through the clouds

University hosts major event to launch 'Mission Space'

19 April 2022

University hosts major event to launch 'Mission Space'


NASA building in Pasadena, California

University's space team visit NASA ahead of plans for new space facility in Portsmouth

University's space team visit NASA ahead of plans for new space facility in Portsmouth
Man sneezing yellow dye

How Astronomy is helping us understand the spread of diseases

Christopher Pattison

How Astronomy is helping us understand the spread of diseases
Picture of a turquoise CanSat

What did you do last summer? I built a satellite!

Becky Canning

What did you do last summer? I built a satellite!

Advances in space research

Find out more about our innovation activities and space-related projects, including our partnerships the South Coast Centre of Excellence for Satellite Applications, ASTA Technology, and the Horizons 5G network.

South Coast Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications (SCCoE)

Earth from space
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ASTA Technologies

image courtesy of ASTA technologies
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Horizons 5G

Networked earth stock image from space
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Mission Space, collaborations and business engagement

We champion regional space cluster activity. The University is an integral part of locally-led innovation clusters working to fulfil the space sector’s ambitions.

We’re a founding partner of Space South Central, a partnership between industry and academia, designed to catalyse investment and deliver missions and capability. We also launched Mission Space in 2022, an exciting strategy promoting cohesion among key players in the South of England to drive growth in the sector.  

Our research has been undertaken with various industry partners including aerospace primes such as Airbus, BAE Systems and QinetiQ.

Our software team in ICG explores innovative applications of astrophysics data analytics tools, and plays leading roles in the science requirements, design and analysis of data from many space and ground-based telescopes. This includes major international projects such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), the European Space Agency Euclid satellite, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), and the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA).

Work with us

The University of Portsmouth is well-placed to help the space industry — from our wealth of world-leading space expertise and track record of successful partnerships in space-related research and innovation, to our location at the heart of the UK space sector. 

The National Space Strategy recognises that academia and research institutes are a vital component to growing the UK space sector. The strategy acknowledges the contribution of universities to world-class Earth and space research, nurturing talent and space engineers, and unleashing innovation.

Person inspecting a satellite component in a clean room

SOLENT SPACE – On a mission to create a space-enabled future for all

Explore the Solent area's contribution to the space sector, from rockets to satellite data. See how we're contributing to knowledge, training and industry outreach.

Download Solent Space brochure


Explore our Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG) and the space-related research taking place in our Future & Emerging Technologies theme.

Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation

Our research in the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG) covers galaxies and stars, large-scale structures, gravitational waves and dark energy — even the origins of the universe itself.
view of galaxy
Find out more

Cosmology and Astrophysics

We're working to understand the cosmos and the fundamental physical laws at work – including gravity and the nature of spacetime. And how these laws of nature play out in the formation and evolution of stars and galaxies.
cosmology landing page image
Explore our research

Future and emerging technologies

Our research under this theme is helping make the world a better place – we're making significant breakthroughs, developing new technologies, and finding sustainable, cost-effective ways to transform our knowledge into action.
Woman wearing VR headset
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Research features

Read in-depth features on the pioneering work being done by our researchers.

Messages from time

Dr James Darling
Mars image, 123RF
Read the feature

Amateur sleuths muscle up the science of discovery

Prof. Daniel Thomas & Prof. Bob Nichol
Man stargazing at night silhouette
Read the feature

Space technology helping earthlings to survive

Prof. Richard Teeuw
planet surface
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Model of light

Prof. Claudia Maraston
Shutterstock stars in space image
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Celebrating Women in Space

Find out more about the research work being done by three of our leading space-focused researchers.

Dr Jen Gupta, Senior Public Engagement and Outreach Fellow

Recognised by the Royal Astronomical Society as a leading female astronomer, Dr Jen Gupta’s work centres around championing greater understanding of astronomy, and inspiring a new generation of scientists. She's also the co-host of the BBC Radio 4 show Stranger Than Sci-Fi.
Jen Gupta at computer during talk
Explore Jen's Research

Professor Claudia Maraston, Theoretical Astrophysicist

Theoretical astrophysicist Dr Claudia Maraston analyses big data using supercomputers to understand how stars and galaxies have evolved over billions of years. She has been awarded the Royal Astronomical Society’s Eddington Medal for Astronomy, for creating new models to better understand the mysteries of space.
Claudia Maraston
Read more about Claudia's work

Dr Laura Nuttall, Reader at the Institute of Cosmology & Gravitation

A UKRI Future Leaders Fellow and Reader in the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation — and a member of the University's Gravitational-Wave Physics Group — Dr Laura Nuttall's work has played an integral role in searching for gravitational waves from colliding black holes and neutron stars.
Dr Laura Nuttall
Discover Laura's research

Contact us

Together, we can take a giant leap towards realising the ambitions of the UK Space Strategy. We would love to discuss your projects with you to explore how research and innovation can deliver your goals for investment, product and talent development, and business growth. 

Adam Amara
Director of the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation

Lucinda King
Space Project Manager

Telephone: +44 (0)23 9284 5151