Job description / Role
Postdoctoral Fellow in Mars Atmospheric Science
The National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) at UAE University (UAEU) in Al Ain, UAE seeks a candidate to join its Planetary Science Group (and the wider Earth and Planetary Science Unit) as a postdoctoral fellow. His/her focus will be on Mars dust storm research in preparation for and in support of the exploitation of scientific data from the upcoming Emirates Mars Mission, under the supervision of Dr Claus Gebhardt.
The anticipated start date is as soon as possible but is likely to be sometime during late Fall 2020, for an initial 2-year period. Review of applications will begin on 6 September 2020, and the position will remain open until filled.
The EMM science phase is scheduled to start in early-to-mid 2021. EMM is expected to provide an unprecedented dataset of satellite images covering the Martian surface and atmosphere. The planned work will start with imagery and dust-climatological-data from past and existing Mars satellite missions. The initial goal is a study to gauge the feasibility of extracting information about Mars dust storms from such observations. It is common practice to identify dust storms manually by the visual inspection of Mars Daily Global Maps. This may be based on different criteria, such as dust clouds, dust storm texture/convective structures, and atmospheric fronts. Manual identification will be backed up by comparisons against the performance of automatic dust storm detection and/or machine learning methods.
Once EMM begins its science phase, the researcher will focus on EMM observations (and/or EMM data synthesized with models using data assimilation methods, on a make-available basis) as the main source of information about Martian dust storms. This will include quantitative constraints on key parameters related to the formation of dust storms, such as dust optical depth, atmospheric and surface temperatures, surface winds, etc. The objective of this part of the work is to generate a comprehensive database of Mars dust storms.
During both phases of the project, the postdoctoral fellow is also expected to pursue independent research in the field of Mars dust storm physics/dynamics/meteorology. Should the successful candidate have the required expertise and aptitude, this may include the use of Mars Global Climate Models (MGCMs) on the UAEU's supercomputing cluster.
NSSTC is a research and development institute of some 50 staff located on the UAE University campus in Al Ain, about 90 minutes' drive from Abu Dhabi and Dubai. UAEU is the largest and highest-ranked public university in the UAE. The Center was established jointly by UAEU, the UAE Space Agency, and the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ICT-Fund), motivated by UAEU's desire to strengthen its role in and contribute to the needs of the nation in Space Science and Space Technology, and to become a Space Science and Technology hub for the region. NSSTC focuses on research and development, higher education, and community outreach. It has expertise in spacecraft communications and precision positioning, on-board real-time systems, space situational awareness, global navigation systems, space resource utilization, geospatial information systems, Earth observation, and planetary science.
Tasks and responsibilities (not exhaustive, and subject to periodic review):
• Inspection of satellite image series and quantitative datasets
• Tracking and cataloguing of multiple dust storms
• Statistical analysis of dust storm characteristics
• Comparisons against the performance of automatic dust storm detection methods/machine learning
• Independent research in Mars dust storm physics/dynamics/meteorology
• Publish research work in the open scientific literature
• Present research work to a variety of audiences within the University, the UAE, and at international conferences
• The interpretation of remote-sensing-based data and independent research may be supported by running Mars Global Climate Models (MGCMs)
• Contribute to NSSTC capacity building and outreach events
• Take part in NSSTC research group and business meetings
• Represent NSSTC and UAE University within the UAE and internationally.
• PhD degree in Physics, Planetary Science, Meteorology, Physical Earth Science, Computer/Data Science, Astronomy, or a closely related field.
• Personal background in Atmospheric Physics/Meteorology, Satellite Remote Sensing, Climate Modelling, Planetary Science/Astronomy, or similar
• Proficiency in the analysis of big scientific data and/or images, and
• The use of relevant analysis toolboxes and programming codes (Python, IDL, Fortran, Matlab, etc.)
• A publication and conference record that compares favourably with others at a similar career stage.
Required Knowledge, Skills, and Competencies:
• Excellent communication skills in English, both verbal and written
• Flexibility and proactive attitude, communication, and conflict solving skills
• To work independently and in a local group
• To harmonize with a large project team, and
• To do both remote sensing and modelling based work
• Well-organized and self-motivated
• Multitasking and deadline-oriented working
• Desire to contribute to cutting edge research
• Willingness to travel overseas when necessary.
About the Company
Founded in 1976 by the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, UAEU is a comprehensive, research-intensive university enrolling about 14,000 Emirati and international students. As the UAE’s flagship university, UAEU offers a full range of accredited, high-quality graduate and undergraduate programs through nine Colleges: Business and Economics; Education; Engineering; Food and Agriculture; Humanities and Social Sciences; IT; Law; Medicine and Health Sciences; and Science. With a distinguished international faculty, state-of-the art new campus, and full range of student support services, UAEU offers a living-learning environment that is unmatched in the UAE.
As a research-intensive university of international stature, UAEU works with its partners in industry to provide research solutions to challenges faced by the nation, the region, and the world. The University has established research centers of strategic importance to the country and the region which are advancing knowledge in critical areas ranging from water resources to cancer treatments. UAEU is currently ranked the number one research university in the GCC, number two in the Arab World, and #370 globally.
UAEU’s academic programs have been developed in partnership with employers, so our graduates are in high demand. UAEU alumni hold key positions in industry, commerce, and government throughout the region. Our continuing investments in facilities, services, and staff ensure that UAEU will continue to serve as a model of innovation and excellence.