PhD Student Position - Image analysis of geological samples - ExoMars2022 rover mission

Position start: February 1st 2021
Level of employment: 100%

The Department of Environmental Science of the University of Basel invites applications for a PhD Student position in the field of image analysis of geological samples, as part of the SNSF-funded project "Contribution to the Swiss science exploitation of the CLose-UP Imager on the ExoMars 2022 rover mission". Position start: February 1st 2021. Duration: 4 years, 100% employment. PhD supervisors: Prof. Nikolaus Kuhn and Dr. Tomaso Bontognali

Your assignments

The close-up imager CLUPI is one of the instruments that will be onboard ESA's "Rosalind Franklin" rover, searching for signs of life in the framework of the joint ESA-Roscosmos "ExoMars 2022" mission. CLUPI will acquire high-resolution images essential to investigate the geology of Mars, selecting samples with a high potential to contain biomarkers. The PhD student will conduct some CLUPI- science validation/training activities aimed at optimizing the scientific return of the instrument during the primary mission on Mars (e.g., determining the ideal lighting conditions and positions relative to rock surfaces, developing drive paths and imaging options enabling the identification of rock types and mineralogy). These simulations will be mostly carried out in the "Marslabor" of the Uni Basel, a state-of-the-art Marsyard. The project will also include the development of new image analysis approaches (e.g. using software for determining size and shape of rock forming particles or rock structures such as thickness and patterns of laminae). Starting from the third year of the project, the PhD candidate will have the opportunity to participate in the primary mission and contribute to the interpretation of the images that will be acquired on Mars. Interactions with the Space Exploration Institute of Neuchâtel (headed by Dr. Jean-Luc Josset, PI of the CLUPI instrument), the Naturhistorisches Museum Bern (affiliation of the CLUPI Co-PI Prof. Beda Hofmann), plus collaborations with the international CLUPI science team are foreseen in this highly multidisciplinary project.

Your profile

Applicants should have a strong interest in space exploration and hold a master's degree, ideally with a thesis in image analysis. The master degree does not necessarily need to be in Earth or planetary sciences. Applications from students with a background in fields like pattern recognition/mathematical morphology/robotic vision are welcome too. But, in this case, the candidate will have to demonstrate the willingness of expanding her/his knowledge in the field of geology. Applicants must have a very good command of English.

We offer you

We offer an international, multidisciplinary work environment and excellent research infrastructure. Compensation will be according to the guidelines of the University of Basel.

Application / Contact

Please submit your complete application documents with a motivation letter, a current CV (including a list of publications if applicable), and a letter of reference until 13th December 2020. We accept only online applications. Questions about the positions can be addressed to Prof. Nikolaus Kuhn (

posted: 19 November 2020     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.