Development of a bio-CubeSat platform for bioscience, astrobiology, medical and materials science applications in space PhD

Cranfield University

PhD 3 years Cranfield, UK

Uploaded 2 Feb 2021

Job Description

A PhD project opportunity to develop and apply knowledge in space systems engineering to the on-going development of a miniaturised CubeSat-compatible payload focusing on enabling the study of bioscience, astrobiology, medical and materials science in space environments especially as part of new flight opportunities beyond low Earth orbit. Read less

The project will focus on increasing the developmental status of the on-going BAMMsat bio-CubeSat payload – a 2nd generation version exists that is about to fly on an ESA stratospheric balloon flight. The PhD project will focus on contribution to the development of a 3rd generation version suitable for space flight. 

The project relates to the general development of space hardware platforms able to implement a variety of bioscience (and related) experiments – both for scientific end goals as well as for demonstrating and understanding the use of biology to support human exploration of the Solar System. Having CubeSat-compatible platforms enables the implementation of the payload in free-flying CubeSats as well as hosted on large spacecraft. Examples of intended use include LEO CubeSats, hosting on the ISS, and especially for beyond-LEO applications as free-flying CubeSats and hosted on a variety of possible lunar platforms including the planned ESA European Large Logistic Lander (EL3). Such latter goals are to expose Earth biology to deep space environments.

The project will take the existing 2nd generation version of the BAMMsat payload developed for spaceflight-like use on an ESA stratospheric balloon flight (planned for 2021 flight) and evolve the design into a 3rd generation design able to be demonstrated suitable for acceptance into a spaceflight programme. 

The studentship will take place in the laboratories and workshops of the Space Group within Cranfield University. Collaboration will occur with a number of bioscience-based partners that will provide biology systems to be demonstrated in the 3rd generation BAMMsat platform – e.g. one or more of nematode worms, microorganisms, plant seed germination, mammalian cell cultures. 

It is expected that the outputs of the project will be a demonstrated 3rd generation BAMMsat design and hardware platform able to be accepted into a spaceflight opportunity – anticipated to be a in-orbit (LEO) demonstration flight as part of the expanding UK small satellite build, launch and operation ecosystem. 

The student will gain a broad knowledge of designing, building, and testing spaceflight systems and knowledge of the applications of biology for both scientific and biotechnological use – the latter to support human exploration of the Moon and Mars.

Person Specification

Applicants should have a first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline. This project would suit someone with an engineering or related technical or physical sciences degree and with interests in / experience of building / testing instrumentation and related systems.