About the Project
The development of the RLS instrument and NASA’s Mars2020 Raman instruments have also led to the serious consideration of Raman spectrometers for NASA’s potential Europa Lander mission (focussing on the habitability of the moon by verifying the presence on the ocean and its characteristics, whilst determining the geological and biological processes that have and will take place on the moon). Previous Europa missions have revealed clear evidence of subsurface oceans most likely sustained by tidal heating and the dynamic radiation environment, and magnetospheric models of the Jovian system suggest a large amount of organic chemistry that has been driven by particles accelerated in Jupiter's magnetic field. This environment likely satisfies the critical requirements for life as we know it. Raman spectrometers would be ideal for identifying molecular signatures associated with these processes. However, the same radiation environment that may support hidden biological processes also pose a threat to mission payloads. High particle irradiances can affect the performance of both detectors and electronic components, significantly reducing the overall instrument performance and reliability. Consequently, it is important to fully model the physical processes involved in order to understand and account for the impact that they will have on the overall scientific capability of the payload. Data returned from the Mars2020 and ExoMars mission will be critical in verifying such models.
Furthermore, Raman spectrometers (along with complementary elemental identification techniques) have been identified as ideal analytical instruments for a range of future lunar lander/rover proposals. For those missions it will be necessary to further develop the instruments and technologies included on the Mars rovers to enable operation during a wider range of operational extremes.
This project involves reviewing data obtained with previously developed space instruments (i.e. from the Mars2020 mission, the prototype systems developed for the ExoMars 2022 mission, and the prototype systems developed for the Europa lander) in order to help develop the next generation of instrumentation packages that are suitable for future mission opportunities, including lunar lander proposals, the next generation of Mars rover instruments (including Mars Sample Return), and icy moons missions. The research activities include: assessing and prioritising the key science goals and requirements for future missions (e.g. identification of biosignatures, habitability, hydration conditions, and geological context), instrument performance modelling, environment modelling (including orbital analysis and radiation effects), and data interpretation and algorithms/systems (specifically focussing on real time, autonomous systems for analysing spectral data acquired by the instrument, and optimised operation during surface operations).
Entry requirementsApplicants are required to hold/or expect to obtain a UK Bachelor Degree 2:1 or better in a relevant subject.
The University of Leicester English language (URL: https://le.ac.uk/study/research-degrees/entry-reqs/eng-lang-reqs)
requirements apply where applicable.
Application adviceTo apply please refer to https://le.ac.uk/study/research-degrees/funded-opportunities/stfc-2020
With your application, please include:
• Personal statement explaining your interest in the project, your experience and why we should consider you
• Degree Certificates and Transcripts of study already completed and if possible transcript to date of study currently being undertaken
• Evidence of English language proficiency if applicable
• In the reference section please enter the contact details of your two academic referees in the boxes provided or upload letters of reference if already available.
• STFC Research Interests Form 2021, to be completed online at https://forms.gle/aH2TcUATuJmmXBZx8
In the funding section please specify that you wish to be considered for Ref STFC 2021
In the proposal section please provide the name of the supervisors and project title (a proposal is not required)
Project / Funding Enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
Application enquiries to email@example.com
This project is eligible for a fully funded STFC studentship which includes :
• A full UK fee waiver for 3.5 years
• An annual tax free stipend of £15,285 (2020/2021)
• Research Training Support Grant (RTSG)
• Conference Fees & UK Fieldwork fund
2. Pappalardo, R. T. et al., 2013, Astrobiology, 13 740–773
3. Rull, F. et al., 2017, Astrobiology, 17
4. Wiens, Roger C., et al. "The SuperCam remote sensing instrument suite for Mars 2020." 47th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.
5. Beegle, Luther, et al. "SHERLOC: scanning habitable environments with raman & luminescence for organics & chemicals." Aerospace Conference, 2015 IEEE. IEEE, 2015.
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