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Hayabusa2: Sample Return from a C-type Asteroid (AST/2020/BRI)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, January 29, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The Hayabusa2 mission successfully sampled asteroid Ryugu in mid 2019 and will commence a return to Earth at the end of 2019. Leicester is part of the Hayabusa2 mineralogy team and we will be analysing samples returned to Earth in early 2021. Using a variety of electron microscopy techniques and recently commissioned beamlines at the Diamond synchrotron we will have a unique opportunity to determine asteroidal processes. In particular this studentship will focus on water-rock reactions on the Ryugu parent body and space weathering. We will also analyse close analogues to the Ryugu material from carbonaceous chondrites. The studentship builds on the analytical techniques developed during analyses of Comet Wild2 grains returned by the Stardust mission, S-class Asteroid grains returned by the first Hayabusa mission, and on analyses of clay minerals in martian meteorites. We now intend to use those methods and further refine our techniques on the Ryugu grains and carbonaceous chondrites.

The School of Physics and Astronomy has a wide range of space science activities including the study of the Solar System through mission involvement (e.g. Hayabusa, Hayabusa2, Stardust, Mars Science Laboratory, HiRISE, CaSSIS, ExoMars) and the study of meteorites. We are currently making a multimillion pound investment in a new National Space Park to further strengthen our space science activities which include sample return missions. The University of Leicester Advanced Microscopy Centre holds state of the art electron microscopes and we have long standing expertise in the use of synchrotron beamlines to analyse planetary materials.

Entry Requirements

UK Bachelor Degree with at least 2:1 in a relevant subject or overseas equivalent.

The University of Leicester English language requirements apply.

Home/EU students only subject to residency requirements.

Application Instructions

When applying, please ensure we have received all of the following required documents by Wednesday 29th January 2020:

• Submit an online application form
• 2 academic references
• STFC Research Interests Form
• CV
• Undergraduate transcripts
- If you have completed your undergraduate degree, we will also require your undergraduate degree certificate
- If you have completed a postgraduate degree, we will also require your transcripts and degree certificate

If we do not have the required documents by the closing date, your application may not be considered for the studentship.

Interview Dates

26th February 2020 – In person
27th February 2020 – Skype only
28th February 2020 – Skype only
2nd March 2020 – Skype only
3rd March 2020 – Skype only
4th March 2020 – In person

Funding Notes

Funding Source: STFC Quota Studentship

3.5 year Studentship provides a tuition fee waiver at UK/EU rates, stipend at UKRI rates and RTSG.


1. Hicks LJ, MacArthur J., Bridges JC, et al. 2017 Magnetite in Comet Wild 2:Evidence for parent body aqueous alteration. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. doi: 10.1111/maps.12909

2. Hicks L.J, Bridges J.C. and Gurman S.J. 2014 Ferric Saponite and Serpentine in the Nakhlite Martian Meteorites. Geochim. Cosmochim Acta, 136, 194-210.

3. J. MacArthur, J.C. Bridges, L.J. Hicks, et al. 2019 Mineralogical Constraints on the Thermal History of Martian Regolith Breccia Northwest Africa 8114. Geochim Cosmochim Acta -

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