Observatoire de Paris Paris 7 Sorbonne Pierre et Marie Curie
Master deuxième année
Astronomie, Astrophysique et Ingénierie Spatiale

Master degree


Master degree "Astronomical and Space-based Systems Engineering"

The master degree was presented at the
International Astronomical Union symposium 260 held in Paris in 2009 for
celebrating the opening of the International Year of Astronomy.

PDF - 601.2 ko


The techniques used today for Astronomy and Space project are complex systems pushed to the highest performance levels. They are conceived in research laboratories with international support, carried out by industrialists, and executed by national and European agencies, e.g. the National Centre for Space Studies (CNES), the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Southern Observatory (ESO)). The conception and the functioning of these systems, together with contacts between engineers, researchers and industrialists, offers exceptional training possibilities in a high-technological and advanced international context.

The vocational education master degree "Astronomical and Space-based Systems Engineering" is intended for students in Physics, Applied Physics, Technology, Electronics, Computer Science, Materials Science etc., interested in Astronomy and Science or Space technology. Students will undergo a complete training in partnership with international-level laboratories and with leading industrialists.

This degree will train physicists for a wide range of skills, appropriate for those whose intention is to take responsibility for subsystems, equipment and engineering systems, and also for future project managers, working in the aerospace industry or similar technological industries or in national and European agencies. Specialized industries, equipment producers, small subcontracting firms and laboratories from the public sector, are also possible outlets.

This short course (1 year) is given in collaboration with national and international institutions, laboratories and industries. It benefits from the network of laboratories associated with the Astronomy and Astrophysics doctorate school of the Ile-de-France. It includes a long training period (5 to 6 months) and a theoretical and practical specialization given by universtity and industrial teachers.

Educational content

The course, of one year duration, is divided in three parts : the core syllabus, the specialization and the training period.

The Core syllabus and the specialization include courses, practical work and projects. One specialization ("computational physics") is directed towards digital techniques, programming tools and simulations, the other specialization ("instrumental techniques") focusses on the methods for pushing instrumentations to the highest performance levels. A training in the conception and the behaviour of complex systems (telescopes, satellites, observatories, interplanetary probes, etc.) will be delivered in the core syllabus. In addition, students will lead and develop practical projects. Finally, an obligatory training period of 5 to 6 months in a company, an agency or a specialized laboratory, completes the course.

The specialization includes advanced programming techniques, civil engineering software, user interfaces, a complete training for the use of professional calculation software and data acquisition and processing, training in signal detection and its treatment under very demanding conditions, knowledge of spatial environments and study of sensors, notably optical, used in signal processing.

The total training period is 500 hours, of which half is delivered by engineers and professionals.

Educational facilities

The lectures take place at the Observatory of Paris and the Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale. For the practical work, the students have access to the Observatory of Paris (Paris and Meudon), the Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale (Paris-Sud University), the Service d’Astrophysique (CEA, Saclay) and the applied Physics Laboratory of the University of Paris 6. These facilities include : computer rooms, computer networks, software, practical training rooms, optical and electronics laboratories, clean rooms, calibration room and anechoidal room.

Educational support

The vocational education master degree is associated with the Astronomy and Astrophysics doctorate school of Ile-de-France. About 45 doctorants with varied profiles qualify each year (physicists, theorists mathematicians, experimenters, modellers, technicians, computer scientists, etc). About 30 laboratories (CNRS, CEA, Observatory of Paris, Universities, ONERA, etc...) in the Ile-de-France region, as well as national and international institutions (CNES, IRAM, ESO, ESA/ESTEC..) and laboratories (Max Planck Institutes, CalTech...) participate to this school. The laboratories of the doctorate school support the vocational education master degree, by vertue of their experience and skills in instrumental activity or digital simulation (system competency, the search for ultimate performance, management of complex systems, links with agencies and industrialists, ...).


The course consists of :

- a common core (13 weeks) : Science of the Universe, signal acquisition and processing, project management, industry, and english language one option (6 weeks)

- a choice between : "Instrumental techniques " and "computational physics"

- group projects

- practical work in digital processing and instrumentation

- a long training period (5 to 6 months) involving a placement in industry, a European institute or a space agency technical centre.

- Teaching is provided by scientists and engineers belonging to the network of laboratories from the Doctorate School, as well as professionals from industry and different public establishments (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, European Space Agency, ONERA, European Southern Observatory...).

Lectures are given in French

Relevant courses in the core syllabus :
Science of the Universe 24 h
Signa 46 h
Signal detection 24 h
Data processing 24 h
Computing science 58 h
Systems 40 h
Industry 33 h
Instrumental works 56 h
English language 45h
Option 120 hours
Numerical methods 30h
Spatial Environment 30h
Space embedded systems 30h
Thermo-mechanics and cryogenics 30h
Structure calculation 30h
Adaptive optics 30h
Control theory 30h
Sensors, microelectronics 30h
Heterodyne detection, microwaves, radars and applications 30h

Project study :
Personal contribution (50 hours) to a Phase 0 on Phase A project. The students will work in pairs.

Training courses :
A training period of 5 to 6 months in industry, space agency, foreign laboratory or observatory.

Examinations :
A collective exam on the core syllabus
A collective exam on the options, including the use of computational or instrumental devices.

The project includes a marked thesis.
The training course’s results are presented to a jury made up of two of the postgraduate course teachers and the training course director.
The translation the various components of the evaluation in ECTS is :


Semestre 1semestre 2
Core syllabus : 17 ECTS Training course : 30 ECTS
Option : 8 ECTS
Project : 5 ECTS

Continuing education

This vocational education master degree also aims at bringing further training to professionals. Its multidisciplinary character allows a specialist in a discipline to widen his/her competence in order to take on new responsibilities. The knowledge and the competence acquired during the exercise of the profession will be validated after being examined by the pedagogic team. Finally, those interested to follow specific classes are also welcome.

European perspectives

This degree has a European orientation.The projects are carried out in cooperation with European laboratories, agencies (ESA, ESO, IRAM) and industries. This cooperation is also illustrated by the participation in the courses of colleagues from European institutions and consortia. Training periods abroad are encouraged. Contacts with similar degree courses in Europe should allow further cooperation to eventually lead to a European master degree.

Students numbers

The vocational education master degree plans to receive about 10 students per option. This number will increase in future years, depending on the availability of traineeships and the perspective evolution of the course. Engineers or technicians in continuing education are also welcome.


The vocational education master degree is run by Benoît Mosser, Professor at the Paris Observatory, Planetologist and Asterosismologist, and Alain Abergel, Professor at the Paris-Sud University, Astrophysicist interested in the interstellar medium.

The specialization are, respectively, run by Guy Perrin, assistant astronomer at the Paris Observatory and Gérard Rousset , Professor at the University Paris VII.

The vocational education master degree Committee is presided over by Pierre Encrenaz, Professor at the University Paris VI. The National Institute of Nuclear Sciences and Techniques (INSTN) contributes to the training of the vocational education master degree.

Inscription conditions
Lectures are given in French

An information booklet and an application form are available from the vocational education master Degree and the Doctorate School secretariats, or from their websites after Mars, 15th.

Candidates will be selected after a study of their professional project and an interview after May, 15th.

Continuing education is possible.

Students are eligible for vocational education master degree scholarships.


Contact : Sonia AKROUR

Secretary of Master Degree

Observatoire de Paris-Meudon, 5, place Jules Janssen, 92195 Meudon Cedex (France) Tél : 33 (0) 1 45 07 71 83 Fax : 33 (0) 1 45 07 71 50

Mél :


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