Image of the Milky Way by NASA

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.

While the public imagination is often focused on space exploration such as rockets, spacecraft, and Mars missions, space science also has a huge impact on our lives on Earth keeping us connected, improving our health and protecting the environment – and through our globally-important research and innovation in space technologies, the University of Portsmouth is working to strengthen the UK as a world-class space nation.

Our Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (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 at 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, and the lead partner of the South Coast Centre of Excellence for Satellite Applications.

Mission Space: Universe-Changing Research
Learn about the work of University of Portsmouth's Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation

Adam Amara Space is an incredible laboratory for exploring physics. 

Coleman Krawczyk What fascinates me most about space is its vast size and just all of the possibilities that that can contain. 

Nicolas Bonne We all have the night sky above us. It's something that links everybody on the planet together. 

Louise Butt The University of Portsmouth is really looking at how it can change the world. 

Claudia Maraston The Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation is a very dynamic and vibrant institute. 

Becky Canning The ICG is a world leading department in astrophysics and cosmology. 

Louise Butt This project is really exciting because the University of Portsmouth are working with other leaders in the space sector to come together to coordinate in a cohesive fashion, to really focus on how space can be explored and utilised for benefit. 

Adam Amara We're going to kick this off with a meeting called Mission Space. 

Richard Teeuw Space technologies looking down at the Earth, they can give us the big picture about what's happening and where. Then space can be very useful because it gives us that rapid overview when a disaster occurs. Without these space based maps that we have, and the people that understand how to use them, we'd be a lot less prepared, we wouldn't be able to respond quite so fast and as effectively, and we would be slower in aiding the recovery after a disaster has hit. 

James Darling Some of the most exciting developments right now are in returning materials from other planetary bodies. So I'm holding a piece of Mars from a meteorite that landed on Earth. But the potential science gained for returning samples with context from the surface of Mars is huge and is part of ongoing exploration. 

Claudia Maraston Cosmic Stroll is the complete innovative project with which we want to allow the public to actually see space as it actually is a through a VR headset. Portsmouth was the first official UK member of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, from which the research used for the Cosmic Stroll is based. So the public has the chance at Portsmouth to view the universe as they have not been able to see otherwise. 

Coleman Krawczyk The Zooniverse is a citizen science platform, so it's a website where researchers can go create projects to help ask volunteers to help classify their images. We upload pictures of galaxies and we ask our volunteers to help sort them into categories. So looking at are they spiral galaxies or are they ellipticals? Are they smooth, featured, how many spiral arms they have? And these types of classifications can then lead us to do further research. Everyone's contributing to building up this collective knowledge. 

Nicolas Bonne Space, I guess, and astronomy is a little bit tricky because it's a really, really visual science. I myself am a blind astronomer, and so I've actually drawn on my own experiences to create the Tactile Universe project. We use tactile resources, which are images that you can feel,  but images that are from real telescopes to help people who have low vision or no vision start to access astronomy, get inspired by astronomy in the same way that people with perfect vision would be able to. 

Adam Amara The country is going through an exciting expansion of space and in Portsmouth, we find ourselves surrounded by exciting space companies. What we'd like to do is bring it all together and create cohesion so that our region can be a big player in space. 

James Darling Collaboration is huge. It's allowing us to reach goals that we thought were almost impossible a decade ago. 

Becky Canning This project is about bringing together regional partners in both industry and academia. And the nice thing about having large teams like that is that you can be more ambitious, you can ask bigger questions, you can do bigger things. 

Claudia Maraston Funding is essential because this collaboration in astrophysics includes the whole planet. The funders will know that with us it's a secure bet. 

Adam Amara My hope for Portsmouth is that we can be a gateway, that people can come to with new ideas, and we would give them what they need to turn it into a fully fleshed mission concept. So it's really about enabling people who have no idea about space to suddenly become space experts. 

Richard Teeuw We're definitely living in a golden age for application of space technologies. 

Nicolas Bonne There's so much that we still don't understand, but there's so much that we're able to see from the Earth here. 

Adam Amara I feel so lucky to be doing the job that I do. Space has become an integral part of everything we do. This old idea that it's a NASA thing isn't true anymore. Space is a part of everyday life. Working together, we can achieve great things in space. 


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


Find out more about our innovation activities, recent space-related projects and more.

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.

Research features

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

Celebrating Women in Space

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

Contact us

Adam Amara
Director of the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation 

Lucinda King
Space Project Manager

Telephone: +44 (0)23 9284 5151