Doctoral School - UAH - Doctoral Programmes



This document sets out the context of the proposal for an Official Doctorate Degree in Space Research and Astrobiology, proposed by the Space Research Group (SRG-UAH) of the Departments of Physics & Mathematics and Computer Engineering of the University of Alcalá together with the Centre for Astrobiology (CAB) of the INTA-CSIC, according to the regulatory framework of RD 99/2011.

This Doctoral Program has the following lines of Research that will be described in more detail in the Teaching Staff section:

  • Space Technology
  • Heliosphere Physics
  • Astrobiology

The proposed program has its first origins in the previous Doctoral Programs “Computer Architecture and Signal Processing Techniques Applied to Telecommunications”, jointly taught by the Computer Engineering and Signal Theory and Communications Departments of the University of Alcalá and the “Mathematics and Physics” program jointly taught by the Departments of Mathematics and Physics, both since 1999. These doctoral programs were widely accepted, which is reflected in the number of students enrolled and the number of doctoral theses read, with a very high percentage of students from other universities. Of these theses read, ten were specifically on topics of Space Science and Technology. Subsequently, and in accordance with decree 56/05, the Official Postgraduate Program in Space Research was launched, associated with the Official Master's Degree in Science and Technology from Space. The most innovative aspect of this modification is the inclusion of the INTA-CSIC Astrobiology Center as a proponent, together with the SRG-UAH group and the Space Meteorology group (SWE). With this new proposal for an Official Doctorate Degree, the aim is to “Training high-level researchers, capable of providing new ideas and solutions in the Space field, the exploration of other celestial objects, and the investigation of the origin, evolution and distribution of life in the Universe ”. The general objectives pursued are the following:

  • Establish an ideal framework for the innovation and production of relevant scientific advances, which lead to the completion of doctoral theses of high scientific quality.
  • Offer rigorous third cycle training for new researchers and organize research teams that can successfully face the challenge of expanding knowledge in the field of Space and Astrobiological science and technology.
  • Collaborate in the training of university teaching staff, with special emphasis on teaching staff research training.
  • Improve the professional, scientific and technical development of university graduates, with a special interest in the improvement of Research, Development and Innovation activities related to the field of Space and Astrobiology.

The main aspects that justify the need for the program are the following:

  • Social demand: The Autonomous Community of Madrid concentrates a large number of companies whose activity is focused on the Space field. The training of research personnel who can contribute to the development of these companies is important. In this sense, the participating research groups maintain contacts with companies in the sector, which have led to many collaborations in research projects. Collaboration with these companies has allowed some doctoral students to enjoy research grants linked to signed contracts.
  • At the international level, the active Spanish participation in the European Space Agency (ESA) should be highlighted, which includes many topics that are closely related to the research lines of this doctoral program.
  • Experience of the group of researchers making the proposal: The departments of Computer Engineering and Physics & Mathematics of the University of Alcalá and the Center for Astrobiology have extensive experience in Space research.

At the university level, and within the SRG-UAH and SWE groups, the Department of Physics and Mathematics has a greater scientific character, while the Department of Computer Engineering has it technological, this allows combining the long tradition in research in Sun-Earth interactions of the first, with the technological capacity of the second. The collaboration between the Physics and Computer Engineering group, which ultimately gave rise to the creation of the SRG-UAH group, began with the participation in the SOHO satellite. In this project SRG-UAH was responsible for the Central Data Processing Unit (CDPU) of the CEPAC instrument. From that moment on, SRG-UAH has actively participated in projects such as FuegoSat (flight control and software platform), the PESCA instrument for particle detection or Exomars, where the group ported the navigation software developed by the CNES to a LEON2 platform. SRG-UAH also maintains a continuous collaboration with the National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA), in the development of flight hardware and software in the NANOSAT and MICROSAT programs. The group has lead the development of the instrument that is measuring solar energetic particles (EPD) aboard the Solar Orbiter mission of ESA and NASA. One of the members of SRG-UAH is the Principal Investigator of this instrument. Also noteworthy is the start-up of a Neutron Monitor by the SRG-UAH group. The Castilla-La Mancha Neutron Monitor (CaLMa) is the first to be installed in Spain and its mission is to permanently measure the extraterrestrial radiation that reaches the ground. It is integrated into the NMDB (Neutron Monitor Database). Finally, the group is carrying out the pertinent tests for the installation of a solar radio telescope in Peralejos de las Truchas (Guadalajara) within the international Callisto network (e-callisto) whose main objective will be to observe the traces in radio waves left behind by the most energetic disturbances in the solar atmosphere.

The SWE research group is an expert in studying the influence of solar activity on the earth's environment through the joint analysis of the three parts of the chain in the Sun-Earth interaction: solar, interplanetary and magnetospheric. This gives the group a strong interdisciplinary character of basic science but capable of transferring it through the design and development of warning and forecast Space meteorology products aimed at different types of end user, among which are critical structures such as electrical networks or communications. Since its set up in December 2014, the SWE group has been responsible for the National Space Meteorology Service (SeNMEs,, providing the country with capacities to respond to the problems that Spanish critical infrastructures may face during geomagnetic storms. Furthermore, several of its Space weather products are currently also being supplied through ESA's portal ( On the other hand, the Center for Astrobiology (CAB) is an international reference center in the field of Astrobiology. Located on the INTA campus in Torrejón de Ardoz, the CAB's transdisciplinary environment allows theoretical, experimental and observational engineers and scientists from various fields to collaborate with each other to systematize the sequence of events that took place since the Big Bang and the origin and the evolution of life. CAB biologists, geologists, physicists, engineers and chemists from different specialties work together to try to give answers to some of the most basic questions of the natural world: how do habitable worlds form and how do they evolve? How do living systems emerge? Can life exist in other worlds apart from Earth? Is life a consequence of the evolution of the universe? To this end, scientists and engineers at the Center for Astrobiology direct and / or are involved in important Space research and planetary exploration projects, such as the REMS (Rover Environmental Monitoring Station) Space instrument, an instrument on board NASA's Curiosity vehicle, which is currently characterizing the habitable environment of the Martian crater Gale, the RLS instrument (Raman Laser Spectrometer, Raman spectrometer that is part of the next ESA mission for the exploration of Mars raman-laser-spectrometer-instrument), the OMC camera (Optical Monitoring Camera, aboard ESA's INTEGRAL satellite), the MIRI instrument (Mid Infra-red Instrument, instrument of the James Webb Space Telescope), the PLATO mission (Planetary Transits and Oscillations of stars, from ESA / Plato), the SAFARI instrument (Spica Far Infra-red Instrument, from the Space Infra-red Telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics of the Japanese Space Agency, JAXA), to mention some of the most important that are in the operation or development phase.

Likewise, the CAB actively participates in the development of the new generation of instruments that will be eligible to form part of future Space missions, whether they are orbiters or surface systems. Examples of this are the SOLID instrument (Signs of Life Detector), for the detection of biomolecules using the LDChip450 biosensor, or systems developed under the protection of European projects (FP7) or National Plans.

In addition to the participation of scientists and engineers in projects of this nature, other projects are also developed in the CAB that, without having a technological development with associated spatial orientation, contribute to a greater understanding and deepening of the knowledge derived from the aforementioned questions.

It is also important to mention the great experience of CAB scientists in the development of scientific campaigns in environments of astrobiological interest, such as Antarctica (in collaboration with the UAH), Arctic permafrost, salt flats of the Atacama and Tunisia desert, deep mines of South Africa, hydrothermal systems of New Zealand and Iceland, Rio Tinto, among others.

In addition to what is indicated in point 2, the following sections must be completed, if applicable:


- Novel titles

Except for the previous doctoral programs proposed by the SRG-UAH group of the University of Alcalá, at the time of writing this document, there is no doctorate with the profile proposed here in the rest of the Spanish universities. You can find studies and doctorates in astrophysics and some studies, although without a doctorate, in technological topics related to Space research. For example, in Madrid we can find the Master in Space Technology of the UPM (without a doctorate) and the Postgraduate Program in Satellite Communications (which addresses specific aspects and does not offer a doctorate either). At present, only two universities in the world grant the degree of doctor in Astrobiology: The University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Pennsylvania State University. For these reasons, the research groups Space Research Group (SRG-UAH), Space Meteorology (SWE) and the INTA-CSIC Astrobiology research group propose and endorse the research lines included in this proposal. Strategically, both for SRG-UAH and SWE and for INTA-CSIC, a collaboration in a doctoral program such as the one proposed will allow us to reinforce our collaboration and improve the training of future doctors that will culminate in the reading of their doctoral theses.

For the University of Alcalá, given the proximity of INTA and the Astrobiology Center, as well as the presence of several companies from the Space sector in the Community of Madrid and more specifically in the Corredor del Henares and Guadalajara, this doctoral program has an interest special since it will allow the training of researchers in Space and Astrobiology to continue. Over the last few years there has been a growing interest from companies in the sector to collaborate on research issues, as well as the incorporation of new doctors in their staff.


- Full-time and part-time students

For new admission places, up to 50% will be allocated to part-time students. Based on experience with the profiles of students interested in carrying out their doctoral studies in our program, we find that many of them work, so part-time dedication is justified. In order that part-time students can acquire the appropriate skills, a schedule of activities compatible with the work they develop will be proposed. Along these lines, we have already been working on the Master of Science and Technology from Space, with adequate results.

This program is integrated into the Doctoral School of the University of Alcalá, created by Order 11375/2012, of October 29, (BOCM 11-10-2012) for the organization and management of doctoral studies at the University, of the activities inherent to the training and development of doctoral students, and other activities consistent with the University's research and innovation strategy.

Curso: 2022-2023


Coordinator: Oscar Rodríguez Polo

Título: Doctor/a por la Universidad de Alcalá

Nº de plazas: 12