Research Space Scientist - AST, Planetary Studies

Greenbelt, Maryland
Oct 24, 2018
Nov 22, 2018
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The Science & Exploration Directorate, Solar System Exploration Division, Planetary Environments Laboratory (Code 699) is seeking a scientist to conduct research into the geochemistry and astrobiology of Ocean Worlds and Icy Worlds in our solar system and beyond. The research involves studying the origin, evolution, chemical composition, and astrobiological potential of planets (including exoplanets), planetary satellites, asteroids, meteorites, and comets, incorporating comparisons with terrestrial analogs where appropriate. Duties include playing a leading role in mission and instrument development for future ocean worlds exploration.

The applicant will formulate research plans and hypotheses and develop a novel or complex research approaches for studies of the past evolution, current state, environmental processing, and astrobiological potential of the chemical/molecular composition of tidally active ocean worlds (Enceladus, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto, and Titan) as well as potential ocean worlds (e.g., Triton, Pluto, Ceres) and other bodies. The applicant will formulate approaches to explore, analyze, and quantify the habitability and potential biology of these environments, including development, test, and potential flight mission deployment of experiments to seek chemical/molecular biosignatures on selected targets. Instrument development for research, prototyping, and flight deployment opportunities would include a focus on advanced mass spectrometry, chemical separation, and other sensitive analytical techniques and associated technologies. This work may include modeling and laboratory work to validate such approaches through comparison with terrestrial and non-terrestrial controlled analogs, chemicals, and/or processes.

The applicant will plan and conduct research that represents a systematic attack on problems recognized as difficult and unyielding to investigation and will independently conceive and propose for research support to address problems of broad scope and complexity requiring subdivision into separate phases of conceptualization/definition, design, development, test and optimization, data analysis, and interpretation of results. The science research results will be shared through publication in peer-reviewed publications, requirements documents, white papers, invited talks and seminars, and presentations at scientific conferences.

The applicant will additionally support the broader development of approaches for conducting investigations of planetary bodies, where geochemical processes can be linked to ocean worlds or icy worlds; the submission of proposals for development funding; and advocacy for their implementation in the scientific community and  the public.

For additional information please contact:  Dr. William Brinckerhoff at: