Scientific activities / projects

Modelling the Dynamics of Volatile-Rich Regolith on Asteroids and Comets

Starting date


Duration of contract

2 years


According to German 13 TVöD

Type of employment


Your mission:

The DLR Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin-Adlershof explores the origin, evolution and development of planets, their moons, asteroids and comets of our Solar System and other planetary systems. Using spacecraft and earth-based remote sensing techniques, laboratory experiments, in-situ investigations and numerical modelling, the institute is well established within the national and international research community and industry.

Recent space missions including the Rosetta and Dawn missions gathered abundant high resolution image and spectral data of asteroids and comets. These data provide valuable information on the morphologies and composition related to sublimation and out-gassing of volatiles. The active processes and distribution of ices on asteroids and comets are of particular interest to understand the distribution of water and other volatiles in our Solar System.

The DLR junior research group conducts an interdisciplinary approach including cartographic preparations, geologic analysis of remote sensing data of space missions as well as experimental and numerical simulations to analyse various surface features related to volatile content on asteroids and comets.

We are looking for a highly motivated young researcher to work on the numerical simulation of volatile related regolith properties and out-gassing processes identified on asteroid and comet surfaces. The aim is to develop a new numerical model for granular material introducing sublimation, heat transfer and dust-gas interactions suitable for describing comet and asteroid regolith. The model will be used for geologic and geophysical analyses of regolith features and processes on comets and asteroids and will be validated by observations from recent space missions, including the Dawn and Rosetta missions.

According to DLR's statutory tasks, we offer early career scientists the opportunity of postgraduate training.

Interested candidates should send a letter of motivation summarizing their qualifications and research interests and objectives, a complete CV and publication list, grade transcripts/diplomas, and 2 letters of recommendation.

Your qualifications:

  • master/diploma or equivalent degree in physics, geoscience or closely related field
  • PhD in physics, geoscience or closely related field
  • strong interest in planetary science
  • profound scientific knowledge of asteroids and comets
  • strong background in geologic processes on planetary objects
  • experience in modelling dynamics of granular planetary regolith
  • ideally experience with the NAIF Spice Toolkit/Kernels
  • advanced programming skills, preferentially in C++ and IDL
  • excellent analytical skills
  • impulse to develop new research questions and enhance necessary skills
  • engagement within public outreach activities is welcome
  • ideally experience in modelling regolith heat transfer and radiation processes
  • experience in modelling (cometary) gas flow Dynamics is desirable
  • ideally hands-on experience with space craft data, preferentially the Rosetta and/or Dawn missions
  • very good communication skills in English and German
  • ability to work in a structured way both, independently and as part of a team

Your benefits:

Look forward to a fulfilling job with an employer who appreciates your commitment and supports your personal and professional development. Our unique infrastructure offers you a working environment in which you have unparalled scope to develop your creative ideas and accomplish your professional objectives. We are striving to increase the proportion of female employees and therefore particularly welcome applications from women. Disabled applicants with equivalent qualifications will be given preferential treatment.

Technical contact

PhD Katharina Otto
Planetary Research

Phone: +49 30 67055-587

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Vacancy 07510

HR department Berlin

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