Space radiation environment measurement and data analysis for engineering applications

Technology in space is required to operate in a complex and highly unpredictable ‘space weather’ radiation environment: join our group to do research on improved radiation detectors and/or analysis of data collected from in-orbit instruments.

Start date
1 October 2019
3 years
Application deadline
Funding source
University of Surrey
Funding information

All university fees will be covered for UK/EU citizens with a base stipend of approximately £15,000 per annum.


Technology in space is required to operate in a complex and highly unpredictable ‘space weather’ radiation environment whilst maintaining the highest levels of reliability.

The Surrey Space Centre continuously investigates the space radiation environment and its impacts using its own unique range of in-orbit monitors, the most recent of which was launched in June 2019 by NASA on the Space-X Falcon 9 Heavy, as well as other space weather data sets available from NASA, NOAA, ESA and elsewhere. Using this data we can evaluate the behaviour of technology alongside the validity of existing environment models and where necessary develop improvements to models.

We extend this approach to the secondary radiation environments experienced by aircraft and other high altitude vehicles within the atmosphere. The present uncertainty over the existence of energetic electrons in the inner Van Allen belt is one question of particular interest to the group. A PhD opportunity exists to contribute to this research programme via either experimental or analytical activities (or a combination of the two) depending on the student’s aptitudes and interests. The former would involve developing improved radiation detectors (including electronics) for deployment in space to enable wider energy range capability, miniaturisation and improved resilience to electron/proton cross-contamination.

Analytical work would examine existing data sets to interpret the orbital environment and hence provide understanding of the performance of standard models used for engineering design: if shown to be necessary, improved models could be developed potentially including climatological factors such as the observed changes over multiple solar cycles; in addition, some elements of forecasting might also be included.

For informal discussions please contact Dr Ryden or Dr Hands.

Eligibility criteria

Open to UK and EU students only.

First or 2:1 in physics, electrical engineering or related disciplines. For experimental work, an aptitude in electronics would be needed.

IELTS requirements: overall IELTS score of 6.5 with 6.0 in each component.

How to apply

Please apply online via the Space Engineering PhD programme page. 

A later start / finish date can be discussed.

Space Engineering PhD

Application deadline

Contact details

Keith Ryden
22 BA 01
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 682226

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