Astrobiology Job Market
Below, open positions are listed that have been forwarded by an EANA member. Additional job offers can be found for example at:

  1. PhD Opportunities in Interdisciplinary Space Sciences and Planetary Research
    The Young Researcher Program YRP@Graz welcomes applications for PhD positions. YRP@Graz is jointly supported by the Space Research Institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Graz University of Technology, and the University of Graz.

    The application process has two stages with which we aim to decrease selection biases: The first stage of the application process is anonymised (submission deadline: April 30th), the second stage takes the form of an interview.

    We seek excellent candidates with a strong background in natural sciences. Successful candidates must hold a Master´s degree in (astro)physics, geoscience, computational chemistry, or equivalent at the latest by the starting date of the position but preferably at the time of application. Previous experience on aspects of astrophysics, machine learning and related fields, and a track record of teamwork will be beneficial for the selection, as will experience in computational coding.

    The three offered projects are:
    • Machine Learning supported exoplanet cloud modelling
    • Solar Eruptions and their global magnetic environment
    • Magnetic helicity in solar eruptions and related interplanetary disturbances

    Details about the offered projects and the application process can be found here: https://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/iwf/research/young-researcher-program/phd-students


    Application Deadline: 2024-04-30
    Webpage: https://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/iwf/research/young-researcher-program/phd-students
    Contact: ruth-sophie.taubner@oeaw.ac.at


  2. ESA Graduate Trainee positions
    There are 110 vacancies listed all across ESA.

    As a reminder, this scheme provides 1 year of employment at ESA sites, often extendable to 2 years, for graduates with Masters-level qualification.

    Some of the posts relevant to Mars missions include:
    - Mars Orbiting Missions Operations Unit (ESOC, DE)
    - Systems Engineering for a Mars Precision Lander (ESTEC, NL)
    - Planetary Radio Occultation (ESTEC, NL)
    - ExoMars/Rosalind Franklin Mass Spectrometry Instrument Optimisation (ESTEC, NL)
    - Machine Learning & Accessibility for Space Science (ESAC, ES)
    - Positioning, Navigation and Timing for Lunar Mars Exploration (ESTEC, NL)
    - Human and Robotic Exploration Programme Management Support (ESTEC, NL)
    - Simulant Research and Development (Vulcan Facility) (ECSAT, UK)
    - Development and Integration of Tools for Supporting Field Science Activities (ESTEC, NL)
    - Science Mission Payload Preparation (ESTEC, NL)


    More information at https://www.esa.int/About_Us/Careers_at_ESA/Apply_now_to_be_an_ESA_YGT

    Application deadline: 2024-03-07
    Webpage: https://www.esa.int/About_Us/Careers_at_ESA/Apply_now_to_be_an_ESA_YGT


  3. PhD offer - FLow / ExocUbe expeRiments of Life bioSignaturEs preservation in saLt
    On Earth, life has been proposed to be preserved in a structurally intact state inside microscopic brine inclusions in salt crystals for up to 830 million years [1]. Hence, salts could offer a tantalizing environment for the study of intact early planetary life differing from fossilized mineral remains of microorganisms such as stromatolites. Evidence for past and present high salinity conditions are found throughout the solar system (icy moons [2,3], Mars, meteorites[4]). Evaporite crystals are known to be UV-shielding, particularly NaCl mixed with other salts (e.g., KCl, MgSO4) [5]. Organics have been preserved within the brine inclusions of extraterrestrial halite (NaCl) crystals [6] demonstrating their suitability to preserve potential biosignatures. Recent work from our lab demonstrated new techniques for isolation of proteins from halite fluid inclusions and the first proteomics analyses of adaptation to such environments by living halophiles [7]. Salts are therefore key environments to understand the preservation of biosignatures of early planetary life, in preparation for upcoming space sample return missions. Therefore, the proposed doctoral project will address two key questions:

    1. What are the effects of space radiation on microbial cells trapped in salt crystals? (Evaluating cell viability & physiology within the salt inclusions)

    2. How does the brine composition within the salt crystal affect cell activity and integrity? (Deciphering physio-chemical mechanisms of microbial-mineral interactions as well as water activity on vital biomolecules)

    This doctoral project focus on the Exocube spaceflight experiment (MNHN participation financed by CNES Exobiologie) scheduled for launch to the new ISS Bartolomeo EXPO platform as part of Science Mission 1 (2024-25). The Exocube experiment includes novel rehydration equipment for microbial cultures, including halophile-bearing salt crystals, outside the ISS in an automated system. The effects of space radiation on cell surface structures trapped in salts, marked as a key technological and scientific goal by the ESA Astrobiology Topical Team [8], will be investigated using in situ FTIR spectroscopy. The PhD candidate will be part of final sample preparations, perform all ground control experiments to replicate ISS exposure conditions based on flight sensors in Exocube and perform post-flight sample analyses. The effects of UV radiation in LEO on halophilic cells inside salt crystals will be evaluated by monitoring growth (OD600nm absorption values with a LED/photodiode system) and cell activity (with MitoTracker fluorophore sensitive to membrane potential indicating active electron transport chains). Then, the cells will be fixed with aldehyde based chemical fixatives enabling post-flight observations of cellular structures using electron microscopies. These methods have already been validated as feasible.

    In parallel, a secondary focus of the PhD project will expand on the hypothesis that salt crystals can preserve microorganisms over millions of years. This is in alignment with the PEPR Origins, of which the ICMCB participates in the frame of the Axis 4 - Microfluidics to investigate prebiotic chemistry and early life on Earth using microfluidic systems. The ICMCB microfluidic platform [9] has already been used to study halophiles is an ongoing collaboration between MCAM and ICMCB to prepare for the Exocube experiment by testing fluidics technology with living halophiles simulating spaceflight-related conditions. The microfluidic system of ICMCB was developed also for applications in space science with the financial support of CNES (ISS spaceflight DECLIC project "SCWO" in development phase A-B). The system will now be used in the frame of this interdisciplinary exobiology PhD project to simulate halite fluid inclusions.



    References:

    1. Schreder-Gomes, S. I. et al. Geology (2022).

    2. Trumbo, S. K. et al. Sci Adv 5, eaaw7123 (2019).

    3. Postberg, F. et al. Nature 474, 620–622 (2011).

    4. Squyres, S. W. et al. Science 313, 1403–1407 (2006).

    5. Morwool, P. F. W. Env. Science (2019).

    6. Chan, Q. H. S. et al. Science Advances 4, eaao3521 (2018).

    7. Favreau, F. et al. Front Microbiol 13, 1075274 (2023).

    8. Elsaesser, A. et al. npj Microgravity 9, 43 (2023).

    9. Cario, A. et al. Front Microbiol 13, 866681 (2022).



    The selection of candidates will be in a two-steps process:



    1- Candidates must first apply via the CNES website : https://recrutement.cnes.fr/en/annonce/2699661-24-065-flow-exocube-experiments-of-life-biosignatures-preservation-in-salts-75005-paris



    This application process is for the half-thesis grant from CNES.



    2. Then, the candidate selected for the CNES grant will be validated for the second half of the funding provided by the PEPR Origins (Projet PEPR Origin « impact des Conditions pRimitives et des rayonnements UV sur des bioSignature au sein des CrisTAux de seL »).



    Candidate Profile:

    · Masters degree in Microbiology (preferred) or Biochemistry with a strong interest in exobiology, interdisciplinary science, and new techniques.

    · Functional level of scientific English.

    · Geographic mobility between Paris and Bordeaux for experiments. As this PhD project will occur between two collaborative labs (MNHN, Paris & ICMCB, Pessac), it is very important to be able to move from one place to another. The thesis will be organized to make the stay easier for housing (long stay in each city). Some funding is also planned for collaborative interaction between both labs (trainings, meetings, etc.).



    For more information contact:

    Adrienne Kish: adrienne.kish (at) mnhn.fr

    Samuel Marre: samuel.marre (at) icmcb.cnrs.fr

    Anaïs Cario: anais.cario (at) icmcb.cnrs.fr


    Laboratories and Supervisors:

    Adrienne Kish (HDR), MCAM UMR7245 MNHN, Paris, France

    In collaboration with Samuel Marre and Anaïs Cario, ICMCB, Bordeaux, France


    CNES application: 2024-03-15
    Webpage: https://recrutement.cnes.fr/en/annonce/2699661-24-065-flow-exocube-experiments-of-life-biosignatures-preservation-in-salts-75005-paris
    Contact: adrienne.kish (at) mnhn.fr