Space Instrumentation and Imaging

We perform research and development of technologies and instruments which feed into the next generation of missions for space science. Our research provides developments which feed into the subject areas of astronomy, planetary science, solar physics, Earth observation and space weather.

We have a vibrant community of research staff and PhD students, and active involvement in many of the main space science missions which are currently under development. Our expertise has many applications well beyond the bounds of space science – attracting interest from a range of industrial partners.

The key elements of this research discipline are:

  • The Centre for Electronic Imaging
  • Space instrumentation

Each year we advertise typically 10 well-defined research projects and expect to recruit full-time postgraduate students to several of these projects based on performance during the interview process. The studentships are fully funded from a variety of funding sources, including studentships in collaboration with industry through the STFC CASE programme. Part-time, self-funded postgraduate students on self-defined projects are only appointed in exceptional circumstances, where the projects closely match the interests and activities of staff members.

Key facts

  • We were part of The Open University’s B09 submission to the Research Excellence Framework in 2021, in which 88% of our submission (including more than 91% of Outputs and 100% of Environment) was assessed as being of either 4* (world-leading) or 3* (internationally excellent).
  • As part of the School of Physical Sciences, postgraduate students in Space Instrumentation and Imaging benefit from specific research skills training related to their subject areas (e.g., astronomical computing, statistics) in addition to their individual research project supervision, as well as general.
  • We have been involved in many successful space missions with ESA and NASA including the Rosetta mission to comet 67P, and current and future missions including ExoMars, Gaia, Athena, Euclid, WFIRST and UKube-1.


Most of our full-time research students are based at our Milton Keynes campus; for details of residence requirements for different modes of study see Full-time study and Part-time study.


Our facilities include environment chambers capable of simulating Martian surface conditions, facilities to investigate radiation damage of semiconductor imaging technology, high-velocity impact testing, and space instrumentation design and building facilities.



Find your research topic

Explore specific areas of research, current and prospective projects, entry requirements, fees and funding, available supervisors, how to apply and contact details for advice.

Atmospheric research and surface exploration

Imaging in Space

Novel detector design and pixel innovations

Space environment and radiation