PhD Position High-resolution spectroscopy of water across the Solar System

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Delft, Netherlands 🇳🇱

FACULTY/DEPARTMENT: Faculty of Aerospace Engineering


SCIENTIFIC FIELD: Natural sciences


SALARY: € 2.541,00 – € 3.247,00



Job description

Signs of hydration are present on the surface of most planetary and airless small bodies of the Solar System. The study of such features is of interest for the search for the origins of life in the Solar System as water is one of the building blocks. On airless planetary bodies, the water can be found either solid as water ice or as hydrated minerals resulting from an ancient flow of liquid water on the surface. Hydration can be detected through infrared spectroscopic observations of the planetary body, each state of water leaving a characteristic feature in the resulting spectrum. Investigations of these hydration signs through high-resolution spectroscopy could bring information on the composition and structure of the observed surface, from which the formation mechanism and alteration history of the body can be derived.

Current space exploration missions observe the surface of airless bodies for traces of hydration using imaging spectrometers sensitive in the infrared. However, instrumental limitations often reduces the spectral resolution and increase the spectral step, which prevents an accurate deduction of the precise composition and structure. To retrieve compositional information of the target through the hydration band, instrumental requirements have to be defined during the development of the new imaging spectrometers.

This PhD project proposes to investigate the links between the hydration features observed in infrared spectroscopy and the composition and crystalline structure of the studied surface. The effects of surface alteration on the hydration features will also be studied. The investigations will be performed in the laboratory using terrestrial and meteoritical samples, and results will be compared to in-situ observations of planetary bodies. Finally, the laboratory results will be used to determine spectral requirements of future spectro-imagers intended for planetary exploration missions.


  • The candidate holds a master degree in planetary sciences, astronomy, physics or equivalent
  • The candidate is familiar with chemistry/geology laboratories through practical courses or internship/thesis, and shows a strong interest for practical work
  • The candidate must show excellent written and spoken English skills


  • The candidate shows programming skills in python or another language
  • The candidate has basics knowledge in crystallography and/or geology

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1.5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2.5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

TU Delft (Delft University of Technology)

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!

Faculty Aerospace Engineering

The Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Delft University of Technology is one of the world’s most highly ranked (and most comprehensive) research, education and innovation communities devoted entirely to aerospace engineering. More than 200 science staff, around 250 PhD candidates and over 2,700 BSc and MSc students apply aerospace engineering disciplines to address the global societal challenges that threaten us today, climate change without doubt being the most important. Our focal subjects: sustainable aerospace, big data and artificial intelligence, bio-inspired engineering and smart instruments and systems. Working at the faculty means working together. With partners in other faculties, knowledge institutes, governments and industry, both aerospace and non-aerospace. Working in field labs and innovation hubs on our university campus and beyond.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering.

Additional information

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Dr. S.J.M. Potin, Assistant Professor, via email:

Application procedure

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply before 17 March 2023 via the application button and upload:

  • Cover letter containing a motivation
  • CV
  • Two letters of recommendation.

Please note: 

  • Interviews for selected candidates are expected to take place in Spring 2023.
  • The expected starting date of the PhD project is flexible and can be set from Summer to Fall 2023 after discussion.
  • A pre-employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
  • Please do not contact us for unsolicited services.





IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development