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PhD in Planetary and Space Science

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, February 08, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

A PhD position is available in the field of Planetary and Space Science. This project is in competition with other projects offered by the School of Physical Sciences for one of a number of Vice Chancellor’s PhD Studentships.

The aim of the project is to develop and test a detector that can be used to collect and investigate the populations of dust particles in the vicinity of the Earth. Originally a very desolate environment with the occasional meteoroid passing through it, the Near Earth Environment has changed dramatically over the past half a century, to one that is now populated by thousands of artificial satellites. Over their lifetime, these satellites have aged due to the harsh environment of space, succumbing to damage caused by oxidation and exposure to extreme temperature variations and solar radiation. This erosion of spacecraft components generates dust which, combined with those naturally occurring micrometeoroids (predominantly from comets and asteroids), pose a significant hazard to future space exploration and satellites. It is vital that we investigate these dust populations in order fully comprehend the hazard they pose and therefore inform the design of future spacecraft (e.g. effective shielding) as well the choice of operational protocols (e.g. waste management). The collector will be composed of multiple thin foils, with the student investigating the influence of:
• projectile size, structure and composition on penetration hole/crater dimensions and residue preservation
• impact velocity and angle on penetration hole/crater dimensions and residue preservation
• collector foil thicknesses on penetration hole/crater dimensions and residue preservation
• target foil coatings (required to protect against oxidation for some materials) on recognisability of impact craters/holes and impacting particle origins (natural vs. man-made) from residues

The project will make use of the School’s light gas gun facility to simulate the collection of particles and test collector designs, as well as its scanning electron microscopes and Raman spectrometer to study resulting samples.

The successful candidate will be based at the University of Kent’s main campus in Canterbury.

This PhD Studentship is due to start in September 2019.


Contact: For further information or informal enquiries, please contact Dr Penny Wozniakiewicz at
How to Apply: To apply please go to [].

You will need to apply through the online application form on the main University website. Please note that you will be expected to provide personal details, education and employment history and supporting documentation (Curriculum Vitae, transcript of results, two academic references).

Deadline Date for Applications: 8th February 2019

Funding Notes

Applicants should have or expect to obtain a first or upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in Physics, Mathematics, Earth or Planetary sciences or a related subject. This is in competition with other projects for a Vice Chancellor’s Research Scholarship, which would be offered at the standard UK Research Councils' rate (currently £14,777; to cover living costs) and will additionally cover tuition fees at the Home/EU rate (currently £4260 per annum). This scholarship is available to both UK and EU nationals and will involve undertaking teaching/demonstrating duties during the period of study.

Related Subjects

How good is research at University of Kent in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 5.00

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