Postdoctoral Research Associate: Aeolian landforms and processes at the ExoMars Rover landing site, Planetary Environments Research Group

The Open University

Postdoctorate Position Fixed Term Milton Keynes, UK

Uploaded 10 Aug 2019

Job Description

The role-holder will be welcomed into an interdisciplinary research team investigating all aspects of planetary environment research. In their role, they will explore aeolian processes and landforms in the Oxia Planum region of Mars, the location that the ESA ExoMars Rosalind Franklin Rover will land in early 2021. The main aim of the project is to understand the environmental and erosional history of the Oxia Planum site, and the role-holder will perform both basic research and assist Rover operations as an associate member of the ExoMars Rover PanCam camera team.

Prior to landing, the role will include (i) terrestrial fieldwork with collaborators from Aberystwyth University and the University of Southampton using the PanCam emulator instrument “AUPE”, (ii) research using the latest NASA and ESA orbital remote sensing data that cover the landing site, (iii) working with project partners at the Open University and Ulster University to generate high resolution climate/atmospheric models of the landing site. After landing, the role will include (i) participating in PanCam surface operations planning and execution, and (ii) analysing data returned by the ExoMars Rover.

Key responsibilities

  • To take a leading role in remote sensing and rover-based studies of aeolian bedforms and other landforms at the ExoMars landing site;
  • To take a leading role in planning and implementing fieldwork;
  • To assist and support internal and external collaborators within the project, especially in the
  • area of climate/atmospheric models;
  • To participate in ExoMars PanCam Surface Operations, and to undertake training necessary for
  • this role;
  • To document all aspects of the research, and to write manuscripts describing the research
  • outcomes for publication in the peer-reviewed literature;
  • To participate in conferences, seminars and workshops aimed at sharing research outcomes and
  • fostering interdisciplinary collaborations;
  • To have a strong commitment to the principles and practice of equality and diversity;
  • To be an active member of the OU Planetary Environments Research Group, attending regular
  • research group meetings and share knowledge with other members of the team;
  • To proactively liaise with and report to the line manager;
  • To carry out administrative tasks associated with this project, such as risk assessments, field work logistics, GIS-workstation administration etc., and to undertake other duties that are reasonable as directed by the line manager.

Person Specification


  • A PhD (or equivalent alternative experience) in planetary physics, geology, geomorphology, planetary science, or other relevant discipline;
  • A thorough understanding of aeolian processes, landforms and landscapes, as might be applied both on Mars and on the Earth;
  • A thorough understanding of Mars remote sensing and Rover-based data products and their interpretation;
  • Experience of working with planetary data using GIS software;
  • Fieldwork experience or equivalent (e.g., expedition leadership);
  • A proven ability to communicate research outcomes via publication in the peer-reviewed literature, and via conference presentations, workshops or equivalent settings;
  • Experience of analysing problems and working creatively to develop innovative and workable solutions;
  • An ability to plan and prioritise own workload, and to work to agreed deadlines;
  • Good oral and written communication in a variety of contexts, including the ability to offer and receive constructive criticism;
  • A strong desire and commitment to working in the field of planetary science.


  • Advanced numeracy and coding/scripting skills;
  • Field experience in isolated, cold and/or hot environments, and an understanding of the risks and mitigations strategies involved in working in such environments;
  • Off-road/unpaved road vehicle driving experience;
  • Experience of working across discipline boundaries or in interdisciplinary teams;
  • Enthusiasm for public engagement and/or impact-generating activities;
  • Membership of mission operations teams or experience of simulated Rover activities or field trials