PhD position at University of Bern: Laboratory Analogue for the Surface of Icy Moons

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Current state: Approved
City: Bern
Country: Switzerland
Contact Person: Peter Wurz
Contact Email: [email protected]
Institution: University of Bern
Application Due Date: Sunday, August 31 2014
Web Link:

The vast majority of celestial objects in our outer solar system are bodies with icy surfaces (ice
moons, Trans-Neptunian Objects, and comets). The surface of these objects directly interacts
with the space environment and thus is open to in-situ or remote sensing investigation. The
upcoming JUICE mission of ESA to the Galilean moons Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto will
allow us to sample directly the particles ejected from the surface. However, many surface
properties (e.g., sputter yield and chemical composition of ejecta) are still poorly known. This
limits the quality of surface and exosphere models and thus poses a problem for the
interpretation of existing observations and for the instrument design for JUICE.

The position is for an experimentalist to simulate processes that are relevant for the icy
surfaces of satellites: radiation with ions, electrons, and UV photons of pure water ice and
mixtures. The goal of this PhD position is to provide the ejection efficiency and the chemical
and energetic distribution of ejecta for the case of ions, UV photons, and electrons impacting an
ice surface. Characterising the sample with an IR-spectrometer and the evolution of
photometric properties as a response to irradiation will complement the analysis. The PhD
student will be part of the PEP (Particle Environment Package) team of the JUICE mission and
will collaborate with the engineering team to help optimise the design of the flight hardware.

We are looking for a talented and motivated person who enjoys experimental physics.
Experience with electronics, vacuum instrumentation, ice samples, and mass spectrometry
would be of advantage but is not required. The PhD position is funded for 4 years. Salary is
according to regulations by the Swiss National Science Foundation. For further information of
our department visit our web page at

Interested applicants should send their curriculum (including professional experience), a one
page motivation letter, the contact details of up to three reference persons, and the grades
obtained at the Master level to Prof. Peter Wurz ([email protected]). Applications
should be sent until 31 August 2014. The starting date of the position is October 2014, but is