Astronomy and space

Space science and astronomy offer some exciting and diverse challenges for physics graduates. A research career in astronomy may beckon if you're keen to explore the secrets of the universe, but you'll need to be prepared to analyse large amounts of data and to solve theoretical problems. Astronomy is a truly global branch of science, with many of the best observatories located in some of the most remote parts of the world.

If you have a more practical bent, you may find your niche in the space industry. Physicists and aeronautical engineers are typically expected to apply scientific principles to the research, design and development of advanced satellite and space technologies. Those working in this area usually specialize in a particular field, but generic tasks might include investigating the use of new materials and technologies and finding a practical application; problem-solving in the design process; and measuring and improving the performance of cutting-edge vehicles and technology.

Case study: Living life on 'Mars'

The quest for clear, dark skies has led astronomers to build telescopes far away from the lights and smog of modern civilization, but what is it like to live and work in such places? Elena Mason describes her career at one of the world's most remote observatories.

Case study: Space to explore

A career in space technology offers great scope for creativity and the chance to build something new. It can even make you relatively popular at parties, as Kevin Middleton describes.

Case study: The choice is endless in space

From keeping ice and woodpeckers off the Space Shuttle's fuel tank to studying the physics of moon dust, Philip Metzger outlines the wide range of opportunities for physicists and engineers in the field of space science.

Case study: Physics to freelance

With dozens, if not hundreds, of professionals vying for the same jobs, why not create your own career? Independent space-technology consultant Mark Williamson shares his experience of self-employment.

Case study: Looking for space

Kyle Palmer describes how his childhood dream of space travel led to a career at Europe's largest satellite firm