Summer Internship – Plasma Wave Modelling at Jupiter

British Antarctic Survey (BAS)

Internship 2 months Cambridge, UK

Uploaded 12 Feb 2021

Job Description

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has developed a computer model to forecast high energy electron flux in the radiation belts of Earth, Jupiter and Saturn. A very important input to this model at Saturn is a parameterisation of electromagnetic plasma waves known as Z-mode waves. We wish to extend this analysis to Jupiter and estimate the potential effect of these waves on the electron population inside the orbit of the moon Io but the data on the waves in this region is scarce. This project will use a technique known as ray tracing to fill in the gaps in our knowledge of the wave properties.

A working knowledge of FORTRAN, C or other similar high-level compiled computer language is required. Applicants must speak and write English fluently and be able to work in a small team. Experience of MATLAB (or IDL) and UNIX/LINUX would be an advantage. Applicants should clearly state their computing experience (languages, systems, projects undertaken etc.) and mathematical background on their applications.

The post is based at the British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, and will be carried out under the supervision of Dr Emma Woodfield.

Who we are
British Antarctic Survey (BAS) delivers and enables world-leading interdisciplinary research in the Polar Regions. Our skilled science and support staff based in Cambridge, Antarctica and the Arctic, work together to deliver research that uses the Polar Regions to advance our understanding of Earth as a sustainable planet. Through our extensive logistic capability and know how BAS facilitates access for the British and international science community to the UK polar research operation. Numerous national and international collaborations, combined with an excellent infrastructure help sustain a world leading position for the UK in Antarctic affairs. British Antarctic Survey is a component of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). NERC is part of UK Research and Innovation

We employ experts from many different professions to carry out our Science as well as keep the keep the lights on, feed the research and support teams and keep everyone safe! If you are looking for an opportunity to work with amazing people in one of the most unique places in the world, then British Antarctic Survey could be for you. We aim to attract the best people for those jobs.


A short research project is available in summer 2021 to carry out the ray tracing at Jupiter using an in-house code called HOTRAY. The successful applicant will be expected to run HOTRAY on the in-house High Performance Computing facilities and develop code in MATLAB (or IDL/Python) to produce graphical output of the model results. Training on the code and computing facilities will be given. Finally, the applicant will be expected to write a comprehensive report on the project.


  • Perform ray tracing of Z-mode waves using HOTRAY to extract key wave parameters
  • Adapt HOTRAY as necessary to different inputs of plasma density and assess how the results of the ray tracing are affected.
  • To develop graphics routines in MATLAB/IDL/Python to present the output
  • To write a report on the project

The above lists are not exhaustive and the job holder is required to undertake such duties as may reasonably be requested within the scope of the post. All employees are required to act professionally, co-operatively and flexibly in line with the requirements of the post and UKRI.

Person Specification

Skills are listed as either Essential or Desirable. Desirable skills importance rating in parenthesis (1 is high, 5 is low)

Communication skills - a) oral skills b) written skills

  • Fluent in written and spoken English language - Essential

Computer / IT skills

  • Some experience writing computer code in a high level compiled language such as FORTRAN/C++/Python or equivalent - Essential
  • Some experience with FORTRAN, MATLAB or IDL - Desirable [1]
  • Some experience with Python - Desirable [1]
  • Some experience of a unix/linux type operating system - Desirable [1]

Interpersonal skills

  • Ability to work in a team and under direction - Essential


  • A Level Maths and Physics - Essential
  • Physics or Maths or similar subject Degree - Desirable [2]

Skills / Experience

  • Some undergraduate experience in physics or mathematics or similar subject - Essential
  • Significant undergraduate experience in physics or mathematics or similar subject - Desirable [1]