Surface processes on Europa and icy worlds

Job Details

Job ID: 11575

New ideas are all around us, but only a few will change the world. That’s our focus at JPL. We ask the biggest questions, then search the universe for answers—literally. We build upon ideas that have guided generations, then share our discoveries to inspire generations to come. Your mission—your opportunity—is to seek out the answers that bring us one step closer. If you’re driven to discover, create, and inspire something that lasts a lifetime and beyond, you’re ready for JPL.


Located in Pasadena, California, JPL has a campus-like environment situated on 177 acres in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and offers a work environment unlike any other: we inspire passion, foster innovation, build collaboration, and reward excellence.


The postdoctoral research associate will work with Dr. Cynthia Phillips and the Europa Lander mission concept team to study the interaction of both exogenic and endogenic processes at the surface of Europa. These processes include impact gardening, sputtering, sintering, thermal processing, and other physical and chemical processing of the surface. The candidate will use a variety of techniques to address one or more of these processes in depth, and will also work on a synthesis of how these processes work together. The candidate will use available Europa images and analog datasets from other icy ocean worlds and analog sites, as well as theoretical modeling of candidate processes. One goal of this work is to create an integrated picture of the structure and processing length scales, both horizontal and vertical, in the top meter of Europa’s surface, as well as the time scales on which these processes are active and interact. Another goal will be to help constrain surface properties important to a landed mission to Europa’s surface, including strength, porosity, grain size, composition, and others, and how those properties vary horizontally and vertically. The selected candidate will also work with the Europa Lander mission concept team on such tasks as are needed.  The selected candidate will be expected to present their research at scientific conferences, and publish in peer-reviewed journals.


Candidates should have a recent PhD in planetary science, geology, physics, or related discipline. A background in modeling or in image processing techniques will be helpful, and experience with surface processes on airless bodies (rocky or icy) is expected.  Experience with other remote sensing techniques such as radar or photometry would also be relevant. Research will be conducted on computers at JPL, no laboratory work is expected as part of the main tasks (though such collaborations may be possible, based on the selected candidate’s background and experience). Candidates who have received their PhD within the past five years since the date of their application are eligible. Postdoctoral Scholar positions are awarded for a minimum of one-year period and may be renewed up to a maximum duration of three years. Candidates should submit the following to this site: CV, representative publications, contact information for three references, and a cover letter stating their research accomplishments and interests.

Work Authorization

Ability to Obtain Work Authorization

Connect with Us

Not ready to apply? Connect with us for general consideration.

JPL is an equal employment opportunity and affirmative action employer and will, whenever possible, actively recruit and include for employment members of underrepresented minority groups, females, disabled veterans, protected veterans, and otherwise qualified persons with disabilities. JPL will hire, transfer, and promote based on the qualifications of the individual to ensure equal consideration and fair treatment of all.

JPL is a VEVRAA Federal Contractor. For more information about "EEO is the Law" click here: eeoc_self_print_poster.pdf

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a federal facility. Due to rules imposed by NASA, JPL will not accept applications from citizens of designated countries or those born in a designated country unless they are Legal Permanent Residents of the U.S or have other protected status under 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3). The Designated Countries List is available at

If you are interested in applying for employment with Jet Propulsion Laboratory and need special assistance or an accommodation to apply for a posted position, contact our Human Resources department at (818) 354-5150 or via email at

Written requests may be mailed to: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Attention: Staffing and Employment Programs, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Mail Stop T1720C, Pasadena, CA 91109