PhD on Icy Moons exospheres

Enceladus, an icy moon orbiting Saturn, possesses an ocean under its surface. Water from this ocean escapes through geysers (plumes) from the icy surface into …

ongeveer 2 maanden geleden


Kluyverweg, Delft, Zuid-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur
€ 2325 - € 2972 per maand


Enceladus, an icy moon orbiting Saturn, possesses an ocean under its surface. Water from this ocean escapes through geysers (plumes) from the icy surface into the exosphere, a newly forming atmosphere. Cassini fly-bys showed that the exosphere contains complex organic molecules. The origin of these species can be linked to two processes: 1) delivery of matter by cryo-geysers, as material from the subsurface ocean is emitted into space, and 2) surface material sputtered through impacting solar photons and particles, both originating from the Sun and from Saturn’s magnetosphere. This project aims at simulating both processes through dedicated laboratory studies. These are performed in a wind tunnel in Delft simulating cryo-geysers, and using the UHV ice setups available in the Laboratory for Astrophysics (Leiden) and a new ice end station at the Free Electron Laser FELIX at Radboud University (Nijmegen). Our objectives are to determine physical and chemical parameters that allow to better characterize exosphere formation on icy Moons, as well as the resulting mass loss due to the exosphere being lost by the gravity from the nearby planet. We will first focus on Enceladus and extend our results to different populations of exomoons, as icy moons like Enceladus are expected to exist also in other stellar systems, orbiting exoplanets.  This is relevant for modelling studies, as we will provide a higher fidelity scenario of the evolution of the icy satellites. The results are also of relevance to future missions as JUICE and Europa Clipper.


Applicants are expected to have a university degree (MSc) in physics, astronomy, earth and/or planetary sciences, or a related area, with a strong background in and expertise with experimental techniques (e.g., experience with UHV technology, mass spectrometry, flow dynamics or IR spectroscopy).

The successful candidate will be granted a temporary employment contract for a period of 4 years, with an evaluation at the end of the first year. Within the contract period, the candidate is expected to produce a dissertation (PhD thesis) of sufficient quality to be awarded a PhD.

The project is part of a large Dutch research network, PEPSci II, focusing on a better understanding of (exo)planetary science. The position is available to start in the fall 2020 and remains open until filled.


TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount for health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. An International Children’s Centre offers childcare and an international primary school. Dual Career Services offers support to accompanying partners. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment; an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff, and a mentor; and a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related, and research skills. Please visit for more information.

Additional information

For information about this vacancy, you can contact Mrs. S.M. Cazaux, Associate Professor, email:, tel: +31152785367.
For information about the selection procedure, please contact Mrs. R. van Wingaarden, Management Assistant, email:

To apply, please send by email a single pdf file that includes application letter, curriculum vitae, transcripts of MSc degrees, a copy of the MSc diploma, proof of English language skills if applicable, and the names of two references, to Mrs. Relly van Wingaarden, management asst.: by 1 June 2020. When applying for this position, please refer to the vacancy number.


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