Scientific activities / projects

Development and application of a numerical model to simulate asteroid and comet surface processes

Starting date

1 June 2018

Duration of contract

1 year


According to the German TVöD 13

Type of employment


"Cutting-edge research requires excellent minds – particularly more females – at all levels. Launch your mission with us and send in your application now!" Prof. Pascale Ehrenfreund - Chair of the DLR Executive Board

Your mission:

A post-doctoral position is available within the framework of the DLR junior research group “The Physics of Volatile Related Morphologies” at the Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin-Adlershof.

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 develop and apply a discrete-element-method (DEM) based numerical simulation describing volatile related regolith properties and out-gassing processes identified on asteroid and comet surfaces. The aim is to implement mechanical and rheological properties and processes such as sublimation, heat transfer and dust-gas interactions to a pre-existing DEM software package. The foundation of the model has already been developed. 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.

The starting date is 1st June 2018, however a starting date as late as 1st December 2018 is possible.

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 two letters of recommendation.

Your qualifications:

  • diploma/master degree in physics
  • PhD in physics with background in planetary science
  • advanced skills in object-oriented programming in C++
  • knowledge of surface processes on asteroids and comets
  • experience in developing simulations with LIGGGHTS or a similar granular code
  • experience with Monte-Carlo simulations (DSMC) is advantageous
  • very good communication skills in English

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. Our human resources policy puts great value on a healthy work-life balance as well as equal opportunities for men and women. Individuals with disabilities will be given preferential consideration in the event their qualifications are equivalent to those of other candidates.

Technical contact

PhD Katharina Otto
Planetary Research

Phone: +49 30 67055-587

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DLR Institute of Planetary Research

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