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My knowledge is shaping the future.

PhD position

Dynamic Aurora - Ionospheric Specification & Systematics (DAISSy)

Starting date

1 January 2022

Duration of contract

3 years


up to German TVöD 13

Type of employment


Solar eruptive phenomena strongly affect the Earth and its space environment in numerous ways collectively termed space weather. The Department for Space Weather Impact focuses on the investigation and mitigation of socioeconomically adverse space weather effects. These include the impairment of critical technical infrastructures such as high-frequency communication and GNSS-based navigation.
Pulsating aurora (PsA) vividly express a particular mode of space weather at which resonant wave-particle interaction in the equatorial magnetosphere causes energetic electron precipitation into the polar ionosphere (see image). This precipitation affects not only technical systems but potentially also our climate through the destruction of mesospheric ozone. The investigation of PsA hence receives considerable international attention which is further fueled by advancements in camera technology as well as in ground-based and spaceborne plasma observations.
The proposed PhD project aims to advance our understanding of the physical systematics associated with PsA based on a novel combination of observations from the northern Fenno-Scandinavian sector. The main efforts will be directed towards (1) the identification of the relation between the optics (e.g., shape, velocity, pulse freqeuncy) and the F-region ionospheric plasma signatures, and (2) the interpretation of the results under consideration of the relevant magnetospheric processes, i.e., the scattering and precipitation of plasma sheet electrons. 
Your work load of 19.25 hours per week is compensated according to 75% of German TVöD group 13. Your tasks include
  • summarizing the current state of knowledge on pulsating aurora with the aim to sharpen the research questions to be addressed,
  • collecting a comprehensive data set of PsA observations from ground-based all-sky cameras as well as ionospheric/magnetospheric missions (e.g., ESA Swarm, NASA Van Allen Probes, JAXA Arase),
  • developing concepts to analyze and interprete the data,
  • familiarizing with existing statistical models of magnetospheric waves in order to quantify electron scattering rates,
  • cooperating with international/multidisciplinary partners,
  • disseminating the results in form of journal publication and conference contributions.

Your qualifications:

  • Master‘s degree/diploma in physics, geophysics, meteorology or a comparable discipline
  • prior knowledge of space physics, ideally of ionospheric/magnetospheric physics
  • experience in scientific data processing, ideally with Python
  • independent problem solving strategies
  • strong communication skills
  • high level of proficiency in the English language both spoken and written

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 unparalleled scope to develop your creative ideas and accomplish your professional objectives. Our human resources policy places great value on a healthy family and work-life-balance as well as equal opportunities for persons of all genders (f/m/x). Individuals with disabilities will be given preferential consideration in the event their qualifications are equivalent to those of other candidates.

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Technical contact

PhD Leonie Pick
Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics

Phone: +49 3981 480-279

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Vacancy 58333

HR department Berlin

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DLR site Neustrelitz

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Institute for Solar-Terrestrial Physics

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