PhD Positions in Physical Science

University of Bern


PhD Positions in Physical Science

The Space Research and Planetology Division of the University of Bern is the leading planetary sciences institute in Switzerland and participates in numerous ESA and NASA missions. The Division has a long-standing tradition in space research starting from the solar wind sail placed on the Moon during the Apollo program, recent missions such as Rosetta to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, to ongoing and future projects including ESA's JUICE mission to the Jovian moons and CI to a yet to be defined target.

The Space Research and Planetology Division of the University of Bern is seeking candidates for a PhD in physics to work on the mass spectrometer suite for ESA's new Comet Interceptor mission. The position, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), is nominally for 3 years with a possible 1 year extension.

The project is dedicated to the investigation of comets by sensitive in situ gas measurements. Comets belong to the most pristine objects in our solar system. Measuring the volatiles sublimating from these objects, including a host of prebiotic molecules and their isotopes, hold important clues about the conditions during the time of their formation and the early days of our Solar System. The European Space Agency (ESA) has selected Comet Interceptor (CI) as the first F class mission in its portfolio (https:/// The University of Bern is the lead institute for the mass spectrometer suite MANiaC (Mass Analyzer for Neutrals in a Coma) and the science camera CoCa (Comet Camera) on the main spacecraft of CI.

The PhD curriculum contains both theoretical and lab work associated to the study of comets and spacecraft instrumentation. A key aspect is the characterization of CI/MANiaC and includes operation and testing of the different instrument models and subunits. Reference and calibration measurements of different gases in both static as well as dynamic mode (neutral gas and ion beams) will be carried out in the laboratory. Furthermore, the PhD student will also be involved in the analysis of data from the ROSINA mass spectrometer suite returned by the late Rosetta mission to comet 67P.
The PhD candidate will be part of a diverse team of engineers, technicians, and scientists, and have the opportunity to present the work at international conferences.
The position requires a Master of Science degree in physics or a closely related field in engineering. Experience in instrumentation, lab work, and programming languages are a clear advantage.
We offer
The salary will be determined according to SNSF regulations. Rules according to the University of Bern and Canton of Bern. Childcare allowance is available.
The Canton of Bern offers 25 days of vacation per year. Public holidays (e.g., Christmas, New Year, Easter, 1 August, etc.) come in addition.

The University of Bern is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity in its workplace, and applications from under-represented minorities are strongly encouraged.
Interested applicants should send their curriculum vitae (including professional experience), a one-page motivation letter, the contact details of two reference persons, and the grades obtained at the Master level to Dr. Martin Rubin (

In your application, please refer to


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