Exobiology Research Fellow position at ESTEC

Posted on Sep 25, 2017 in Jobs, News | 0 comments

Exobiology Research Fellow position at ESTEC

The European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), ESA’s main technology and test centre for spacecraft and space technology, is advertising a research fellowship opportunity in exobiology research coordination.

The Science Department is responsible for the definition and coordination of the scientific research performed on-board the International Space Station (ISS), other spaceflight platforms and ground based analogues within the SciSpacE element of the European Exploration Envelope Programme (E3P). The overall scientific objectives of SciSpacE until 2024 are defined in 10 science roadmaps which were elaborated with the scientific community. Within the Science Department, the Biology and Environment Research Office is responsible for inputs to programmatic and strategic planning, and the end-to-end science coordination of projects in the areas of Biology and Exobiology. Interested candidates are encouraged to visit the ESA website: www.esa.int

ESA has a long history of providing flight opportunities in low earth orbit, as well as ground based analogues, to support Exobiology research. These includes the short duration space exposure experiments in the BIOPAN facility onboard of Foton capsule missions and long duration exposure using the EXPOSE platforms onboard ISS. The results of these flight experiments and associated ground based studies have provided key information of the survival of micro-organisms in the space environment, aspects of panspermia, planetary protection issues and prebiotic chemistry in space and simulated planetary environments. A new set of Exobiology flight experiments are now under preparation for long duration space exposure onboard ISS which will examine changes in biological and chemical samples using in situ diagnostics, as well as post flight analysis on returned samples.

The SciSpacE Astrobiology roadmap identifies the key research questions that the Exobiology community aims to address by 2024 using the research platforms available in the programme. The specific top level objectives of the roadmap include understanding the origins of life, understanding habitability and the limits of life, and understanding the signs of life. It is anticipated that studies addressing these objectives will not only provide fundamental science knowledge, but support the interpretation of results from other Exobiology related programmes within the agency such as the Exomars mission.

The research fellow will engage in research in preparation and in support of  the implementation of the SciSpacE Astrobiology roadmap  including:

  • Closely work with the project scientist for selected Exobiology experiments to coordinate definition & refinement of science requirements with the science teams, to support scientific testing during development of the flight experiment & receive and analyse data during the experiment execution.
  • Support the creation of research links and coordinate with the Exobiology science community for identification of research activities in support of the Astrobiology Roadmap objectives, particularly in the area of ground based analogues and simulation to complement the ISS experiments planned in SciSpacE.
  • Support the establishment of the flight and analogue research capabilities needed to address the long term objectives beyond the current programme.

The closing date for applications is  19 October 2017.

More information and application instructions can be found here.

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