Space Research & Planetary Sciences Division Web Site

Open Positions

Masterarbeit über Rosetta und Komet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko

Interessierst du dich für Weltraumforschung, studierst Physik und bist auf der Suche nach einer geeigneten Masterarbeit?
Dann bist du bei uns genau richtig!

Rosetta ist die wohl bekannteste Weltraummission der Gegenwart, mit dem Ziel einen Kometen während zwei Jahren (2014-2016) auf seiner Umlaufbahn um die Sonne zu begleiten und zu studieren. Wir wollen dabei die physikalischen Prozesse u.A. der Entstehung des Gas- und Staubschweifs studieren. Die Erforschung dieses Kometen wird uns zudem helfen die Entstehung unseres Sonnensystems und somit auch unserer Erde besser zu verstehen.

Wir bieten zwei Rosetta-Masterarbeiten an:

  1. Modellieren: Anhand von Computermodellen können Gas- und Staubausbrüche simuliert und mit Daten vergleichen werden, um die dominierenden physikalischen Prozesse zu studieren.

  2. Daten-Analyse: Wie verändert sich die Oberfläche durch den Gas- und Staubausstoss während der zwei Jahre dauernden Mission? Was lernen wir dabei über die physikalischen Prozesse auf der Oberfläche? Dies kann anhand von Bildern der hochauflösenden Kamera studiert werden.

Auskunft geben dir gerne:

Prof. Nicolas Thomas

Raphael Marschall


Positions with PIG and CSH

  • Opportunity to apply for a PostDoc position within the framework of the Center for Space and Habitability (CSH) at the University of Bern, Switzerland: The candidate should find an interdisciplinary research field within the overall scientific goals of the center and at least two advisors/tutors from different research groups of the University of Bern. See the CSH website for details.



PhD position at University of Bern: Performance evaluation of the BepiColombo Laser Altimeter

The Planetary Imaging Group (PIG) of the Space Research and Planetology Division (WP) of the University of Bern has a PhD position open from 1 October 2015. The position, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, is nominally for 3 years with a possible 1 year extension.

The project is connected to the development of the BepiColombo Laser Altimeter (BELA) ( which is slated to fly on the European Space Agency’s BepiColombo mission to Mercury in 2017. BELA is a classical laser altimeter system which uses an Nd:YAG laser to range from the spacecraft to the planet’s surface. The device can also assess surface roughness and albedo by providing the shape of the return pulse.

In recent months, a large amount of test data has been acquired which, when combined with the instrument software simulator, can provide an accurate assessment of the instrument performance under different conditions. The aim of the thesis is to complete the evaluation of the test data, model the performance of the instrument in flight, and provide guidelines for the effective operation of the instrument at Mercury. The successful applicant will perform analyses and modelling work but may also work with test equipment in the lab. if required. A similar rangefinder is foreseen for the GALA experiment on ESA’s JUICE mission to Ganymede and implications for that experiment of the BELA tests are also of interest.

The successful applicant will work with an experienced team of scientists and engineers who have a deep knowledge of the instrument and can provide support at all levels.

General information

WP is the leading planetary sciences institute in Switzerland ( and participates in a large number of European Space Agency and NASA missions. Involvements have recently expanded to include participation in JAXA, ISRO, and Roskosmos-led programmes. Two experimental groups are led by Nicolas Thomas (remote sensing experiments) and Peter Wurz (in situ neutral and ion mass spectrometers). These groups focus on the development of novel experiments for flight on the spacecraft missions of several agencies such as ESA (the European Space Agency) and NASA. The remote sensing experiments provide access to information about the surfaces and interiors of planets, planetary satellites and small bodies. The mass spectrometers are used to determine the composition of planetary atmospheres, planetary and satellite exospheres, cometary outgassing and interstellar gas. These two fields provide input to the theoretical team, led by Willy Benz, which models aspects of the observations and places them in the context of their implications for the formation, evolution and habitability of our and other solar systems.

The Division is currently engaged in developing and completing hardware for ESA’s BepiColombo mission to Mercury, the Trace Gas Orbiter to Mars and the CHEOPS exoplanet mission, analysing results from the HiRISE (MRO), Chandrayaan-1, IBEX, ROSINA (Rosetta), and OSIRIS (Rosetta) experiments and preparing for future missions such as the JUICE and Europa Clipper missions to the Jupiter system.

The salary will be determined according to Cantonal regulations but a typical starting salary would be around 3100 CHF per month (after deduction). The Canton offers 23 days holiday per year. Public holidays (e.g. Christmas, New Year, Easter, 1 August, etc.) come in addition.

The Division is actively seeking to increase the numbers of women in physics and hence women are strongly encouraged to apply.


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 Prof. Nicolas Thomas (nicolas.thomas (at) Applications should be sent by 31 August 2015. The starting date is nominally 1 October 2015, but is negotiable.


Positions with PIG and NCCR PlanetS

No positions open at this time.



Specific information on Project 4

No positions open at this time.


Space Research & Planetary Sciences Division Web Site