Addressing Scale in the Solar System Internet

University of Strathclyde

PhD 3 years Glasgow, UK

Uploaded 13 Apr 2022

Job Description

Overview

It is expected that space networks will continue to grow in terms of distribution, spacecraft number and acquired data volume. This poses real challenges around the delivery of data, where a reliable connection to the end user is often missing. This 36-month opportunity will make use of advanced Graph Theory and algorithmic approaches to overcome these challenges and help shape the Solar System Internet.

 

Project Details

Our presence in orbit around the Earth and throughout the deeper Solar System is at record levels, but our ability to handle communication of the discoveries we make in these places is still based on aged technology. As we expand deeper into these challenging environments and acquire more precious data than before, the need for reliable, efficient communication is greater than ever. This project will help shape the Solar System Internet, a concept that will enable the delivery of more insights from space, to the benefit of life on Earth.

The successful candidate will review existing technologies in the field of delay- and disruption-tolerant networks (DTNs) and develop solutions for routing data through dynamic networks at scale. Elements of graph theory will likely play a key role, minimising the reliance on computationally expensive numerical methods. Analytical approaches will instead offer the breakthroughs needed to ensure scalability, autonomy and reliability are realised. Be it a large constellation of nano-satellites in low Earth orbit, or an inter-connected deep-space network, the Solar System Internet will change the way we communicate, forever.

The successful candidate will cooperate closely with the European Space Agency to ensure findings from the work are relevant to our future Space exploration and fit within ESA’s objectives. Large cloud-based experiments are expected, to address the issues of scale, and if resources allow, deployment on board an ESA satellite would be beneficial, to demonstrate the applicability of the work in orbit.

Check out ESA’s Moonlight project for motivation into why a reliable, efficient solution to deep space network communication is essential for us going forward.

Applications from people of all backgrounds, cultures, genders and ages are encouraged. A career in engineering is for anyone willing to challenge themselves and the status quo.

The successful candidate will be expected to demonstrate the following skills/qualifications. Interested applicants who do not meet all of these in full, are still encouraged to apply:

  • bachelor’s degree (or higher) in a technical subject (eg engineering, mathematics, physics or computer science)
  • computer programming/software development (basic level)
  • a passion and aptitude for tackling difficult problems through critical thinking
  • a willingness to question everything – research is born out of pushing the boundaries of our understanding
  • a high level of self-motivation – PhDs are a journey of self-discovery as much as a body of research
  • ability to work as part of a team – yes, it is your PhD, but you will not be doing it alone
  • fluency in the English language, both written and spoken

Knowledge of the following areas would be beneficial, but are not considered mandatory:

  • space systems/satellite technology
  • Delay-Tolerant Networking (DTNs)
  • internetworking architectures & protocols
  • graph/network theory
  • Object Oriented Programming
  • Python, Matlab or other technical programming language
  • software version control
  • cloud computing (eg Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud)

Further information

This PhD is dependent on receiving co-funding from the European Space Agency, which is pending approval.

 

Funding details

Tax-free stipend will be in line with the UKRI recommended amount (£16,062 for 2022/23, increasing year on year). Travel costs are TBC, but should be sufficient for conference travel and potentially a research visit to the European Space Agency.

Please note: This PhD is dependent on receiving co-funding from the European Space Agency, which is pending approval.

Person Specification

Eligibility

  • bachelor’s degree (or higher) in a technical subject (eg engineering, mathematics, physics or computer science)
  • computer programming/software development (basic level)
  • a passion and aptitude for tackling difficult problems through critical thinking
  • a willingness to question everything – research is born out of pushing the boundaries of our understanding
  • a high level of self-motivation – PhDs are a journey of self-discovery as much as a body of research
  • ability to work as part of a team – yes, it is your PhD, but you will not be doing it alone
  • fluency in the English language, both written and spoken