About us 

The INCT is affiliated with the University of Atacama, under the supervision of the Vice Rectorate for Research and Postgraduate Studies and it is defined as a high-level research institution to study astronomy and planetary sciences, that creates and disseminates relevant scientific knowledge to several communities, including: the national and international scientific community, UDA students along with the university community at large, Copiapó city and the Atacama region.

The INCT aims to become a regional focal point in astronomy and geology at both national and international level, by capitalizing on two abundant natural resources deeply connected to the Atacama Region, the unique clean sky conditions of the Atacama Desert, and a rich and diverse geology in this part of northern Chile. The Atacama desert mountains are home to the largest and most technologically advanced telescopes in the world, that take advantage of the extreme dryness and dark clear skies to obtain the deepest and sharpest images of the universe. The Atacama desert constitutes an optimal place for environmental research in planetary science and astrobiology, thanks to its unique conditions that are similar to those existing on other solid bodies of the Solar System.

Mission and Vision

The INCT has the mission to become a reference in Astronomy and Planetary Science in Chile by doing innovative scientific research, within the unique conditions of the Region of Atacama. The INCT visualizes itself as a world class high-level research institution in the study of Astronomy and Planetary Science.

Strategic Development Plan

The INCT’s strategic development plan is framed within the strategic development plan of the Universidad de Atacama, which can be reviewed in the following link.


                   ESO/Y. Belestky  

INCT History

The INCT was created by Exempt Decree N°42 on June 27, 2017, to answer to the goals established by the UDA´s institutional Strategic Development Plan and their expected growth on future relevant subjects for the region and country. INCT wants to capitalize the enormous advantages of the Atacama Region as a natural unique laboratory in the world, similar in many ways to the surface of various solid bodies of the Solar System (e.g. the Moon or Mars), with clear skies free of artificial light pollution, that favors the study and development of all areas inAstrophysics and Planetary Sciences. On top of this, we have access to the 10% of observing time granted to the astronomical Chilean community in all the professional observatories located in our country. The INCT wants to take advantage of the unique features of the Atacama Region to build a platform for simulation and experimentation, creating new knowledge, forming new professionals, being a testing site for the aerospace industry and in general being a place for all kinds of studies in Astrophysics and Planetary Sciences.


  • May 2021 – Present: Dr. Mario Soto
  • May 2019 – May 2021: Dr. Giovanni Leone
  • June 2017 – December 2018 : Dr. Mauro Barbieri























Job posts

Postdoctoral FONDECYT positions at INCT (3 years):

The Instituto de Astronomía y Ciencias Planetarias (INCT) at Universidad de Atacama (UDA) in Copiapó, Chile, welcomes applications for sponsoring a three year FONDECYT postdoctoral research fellowship in astronomy. After an initial evaluation, selected applicants will be sponsored by an INCT faculty member for the FONDECYT application. Projects in the following research lines will receive full consideration:

  • Exoplanets and Planetary Science
  • Stellar Astronomy and Milky Way
  • Extragalactic Astronomy and Cosmology 

 For more details on specific research topics, please refer to the INCT website.

 Successful applicants will have access to the 10% of time guaranteed to Chilean institutions on all international observatories based in the country (ESO/Paranal, ALMA, APEX, CTA-South, Las Campanas, ESO/La Silla, LSST, CTIO, Gemini, etc.) and participation in SDSS-V.

The INCT is committed to maintaining a diverse and inclusive work environment, which currently hosts 11 faculty members, 3 postdocs, and 12 Ph.D. graduate students. The INCT provides a stimulating, international environment where Spanish and English coexist as common languages. The University of Atacama is located in Copiapó, the capital city of the Atacama region. Copiapó is located in the Atacama desert, and the region offers a unique variety of natural and wildlife attractions. 

The expected beginning of the FONDECYT fellowships is April 15, 2022. To be eligible for a FONDECYT postdoctoral research fellowship, applicants must have obtained their Ph.D. between January 2018 and 26 August 2021. However, this period is extended backward by one year per child, for women who had children after January 2018. 

The Postdoctoral FONDECYT Postdoctoral fellowship Competition offers a competitive salary and additional funds for travel, publications, equipment, and health insurance expenses. Complete applications to INCT must include in a single PDF file: a C.V. with a list of publications, research statement (max 2 pages), a research proposal (max 2 pages, and based in one of the three research lines), and the name and contact details of one reference aware of the candidate’s work experience. All documents should be sent by e-mail to inct@uda.cl by the deadline August 10 2021. Similar postdoctoral positions will be offered as public research funds become available. Inquiries should be addressed to the INCT at inct@uda.cl.























Assistant Professor at INCT: One (1) position available until filled.

The Instituto de Astronomía y Ciencias Planetarias (INCT) at Universidad de Atacama (UDA) in Copiapó, Chile, invites applications for two assistant professor positions from enthusiastic candidates, currently working in the fields of Planetary Sciences, including Exoplanets. Successful candidates should be able to effectively teach graduate-level courses in English and also serve as PhD advisors for our enrolled students. Applicants should have a PhD in Astronomy, Planetary Science or closely related areas and a minimum of 10 publications (in Q1 or Q2 in WOS related Astronomy & Astrophysics JCR category) between years 2015-2019. Successful applicants will have the chance to apply for the 10% of time guaranteed to Chilean institutions on all international observatories based in the country (ESO/Paranal, ALMA, APEX, CTA-South, Las Campanas, ESO/La Silla, LSST, CTIO, Gemini, etc.) UDA is local state university with +12,000 students and a long tradition going back to the historical Copiapó Mining School founded in Nowadays our university keeps a strong relationship with the regional industries and businesses, by educating and graduating highly qualified professionals in geology, engineering, technology, education and medicine.

In recent years UDA has steadily grown its research capabilities, infrastructure and personnel, as part of a strategic development plan that intends to transform UDA into a highly recognized institution, able to generate new knowledge and provide relevant answers to the most pressing challenges our society and humanity are facing. From clean energies on the ground to clean skies above, UDA as a whole is striving to reach higher levels. In line with this vision, the INCT was founded in 2017, as the first research institute in northern Chile offering a PhD program in Astronomy and Planetary Sciences, taking advantage of the superb clean skies and the other-worldly environmental conditions of the nearby Atacama desert.

In the context of this natural laboratory, INCT and UDA plan to steadily strengthen their research lines by hiring highly qualified researchers in Astronomy and Planetary Sciences, and this job post fits within that general plan.

The city of Copiapó where UDA has its main campus and where INCT is located, is an oasis in the middle of the Atacama desert, and a growing city with a +150,000 population. Capital of the Atacama region, Copiapó has an intense economic activity not only in the mining sector and support services, but also on agriculture, light and medium industry, green energy, commerce and tourism. It has a good network of education, health, telecommunication, banking, real state, food, retailers and general services.

The INCT offers a competitive salary plus productivity incentives. Complete applications must include in a single PDF file: a CV with a list of publications, cover letter (1 page), a research statement (max 2 pages), a teaching experience description (max 1 page) and future research plans (max 3 pages) and the names and contact details of three (3) references aware for the candidate’s work experience. All documents should be sent by e-mail to inct@uda.cl by deadline June 1st 2020. Positions will stay open until filled. Inquiries should be addressed to Dr. Lorenzo Morelli at inct@uda.cl. The University of Atacama is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer dedicated to excellence through diversity and does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, marital status, gender identity or any other non-job related criteria. The University of Atacama recognizes the importance of a multicultural community of students, faculty, and staff who seek to advance our commitment to diversity. The University invites applications from underrepresented groups and those who have academic experiences with diverse populations.

Contact and Location

Instituto de Investigación en Astronomía y Ciencias Planetarias (INCT)
Área Norte, Campus Paulino del Barrio
Avenida Copayapu 485, Copiapó 1531772, Chile.
Phone number: +56 52 225 5938
E-mail: inct@uda.cl