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Dr Subhajit Sarkar

Research Associate
Astronomy Instrumentation Group

School of Physics and Astronomy

+44 (0)29 2087 0116
N/0.05, Queen's Buildings - North Building, 5 The Parade, Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 3AA


I’m a post-doctoral researcher interested in the characterisation of extra-solar planets. I lead the simulations working group and data reduction pipeline development for the ESA Ariel space mission: the first space telescope dedicated to exoplanet spectroscopy.  


  • PhD, Astrophysics, Cardiff University
  • MSc (Distinction), Space Science, University College London
  • Diploma in Physics (Distinction), Open University
  • MA, Natural Sciences, Cambridge University
  • MB, BChir, Medicine, Cambridge University
  • Grad. Cert. Applied Sciences, Space Studies, University of South Australia
  • Space Studies Program, International Space University
  • Formerly:
    • Visiting Researcher, Space Medicine and Health Care Systems Office, NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas
    • Honorary Lecturer, MSc in Space Science, Dept. of Space & Climate Physics, University College London

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Speaking engagements

  • Invited speaker. Digital Exoplanets conference. Prague. Jan 28th 2019.
  • Presented talks and posters at national and international academic conferences including EPSC, SPIE, NAM and UKEXOM.
  • Outreach activities:
    • BBC Wales Science Cafe interview about the ARIEL space mission (April 2018).
    • Pythagorean Astronomy podcast interview about TESS, ARIEL and other current and future exoplanet missions mission (April 2018).
    • Talks to year 12 students during Cardiff AS Level Summer Programmes 2018 and 2019 about planets and exoplanets.
    • Stargazing talk and telescope observing with Scouts (for their astronomy badge) (Spring 2019).
    • Online astronomy talk with Scouts (Winter 2020).
    • 'All About Space' magazine interview about Ariel mission ('Rise of the Exoplanet Hunter') (Jan 2021).

Committees and reviewing

  • Journal reviewer, Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.
  • Journal reviewer, The Astronomical Journal.
  • Journal reviewer, Scientific Video Protocols.
  • Equality, Diversity & Inclusiveness Committee, Cardiff U. School of Phys. & Astron., 2020-Present
  • School Approval Panel for MSc in Physics and MSc in Astrophysics programmes at Cardiff.
  • Co-covener, "Future instruments to detect and characterise extrasolar planets", ESPC-DPS meeting, Geneva, 2019.
  • Co-covener, "Future instruments to detect and characterise extrasolar planets and their environment", EPSC, Grenada, 2020
  • Co-covener, "Future instruments to detect and characterise extrasolar planets and their environment", EPSC virtual meeting, 2021













Current undergraduate:

  • PX2140 Stars and Planets (6 Lectures on planet formation and exoplanets. Second lecturer)
  • PX1127 Planet Earth (2 Lectures on human spaceflight. Deputy module organiser)

Former undergraduate:

  • PX2134 Structured Programming (Lab Supervisor)
  • PX1125 Mathematical Practive for Physical Sciences (Marker)
  • PX1222 Mathematical Methods for Physicists 2 (Marker)


  • I have also given a lecture on planet formation and exoplanets as part of the postgraduate lecture series for new PhD students
  • I supervise MPhys and MSc students for their final year projects.

Research areas:

  • Development of exoplanet space and balloon observatories: 
    • Ariel Data Reduction Pipeline (ADaRP) development lead
    • Ariel mission development: simulation software, ground segment
    • Software developed: ExoSim/ARIELSim, JexoSim (JWST simulator), TwinkleSim, ADaRP
    • EXCITE: development of first dedicated phase-curve spectroscopy observatory
  • Transit spectroscopy of exoplanet atmospheres
    • Hubble WFC3 : hot Jupiter atmospheres
    • JWST observations : Co-I on approved Cycle 1 GO program 2722:
      'Chemical Disequilibrium in a Temperate sub-Neptune'. This is the only cycle 1 programme to use three instruments, NIRISS, NIRSpec and MIRI to obtain the transmission spectrum of a small planet (K2-18 b).
  • Characterisation of Earth-like exoplanets
    • DRAKE (Dedicated Research for Advancing Knowledge of Exobiology): a proposed space mission to find the frequency of life in the Galaxy.
  • Aerial biospheres

Working groups and collaborations:

  • I am an active member of the Ariel ground segment WG, calibration WG and spectral retrievals WG.
  • I collaborate on the Twinkle space mission, and will lead the Cardiff contribution to the mission.
  • I am an official NASA collaborator on EXCITE balloon telescope to characterize exoplanets from Antarctica.
  • I am a member of the JWST ERS working group for simulated time-series observations.


  • I am primary PhD supervisor for Luke Booth, new PhD student starting this October.
  • I am currently on the supervisory team as mentor for two PhD students.
  • I will supervise two up-coming undergraduate projects: 'Water in exoplanets' and 'JWST and the search for life'

Past projects

  • I have previously co-supervised with Matt Griffin, one MSc student and two MPhys students. 
  • I have previously co-supervised with Enzo Pascale, two MPhys projects. 
  • The areas covered were:
    • 1) Signal and noise simulations for exoplanet observations by the Twinkle instrument
    • 2) Simulations of star spots and faculae and their impact on exoplanet transmission spectra
    • 3) Designing a telescope to characterise Earth-like planet atmospheres