Research Scientist III - Astrobiology and Ocean Worlds

Job Details

Job ID: 11866

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 Jet Propulsion Laboratory invites applications for a Research Scientist   position to join the Astrobiology and Ocean Worlds Group within the Planetary Science Section.  In this position, you will do the following: 

  • Lead development of instrumentation and/or mission concepts to explore the subsurface of Mars and other habitable environments.
  • Write proposals for advancing research and instrument/mission development in the areas of planetary habitability, subsurface exploration, hydrology, energetics, thermodynamics, geodynamics and astrobiology.


  • Ph.D. degree in Earth or Planetary Sciences or related scientific or technical discipline.
  • Demonstrated working knowledge at the forefront in the fields of planetary habitability, geophysics, geodynamics, aqueous geochemistry, modeling and biology/astrobiology, including but not limited to the Mars subsurface.
  • At least 5 years experience following the Ph.D. in research in one or more of the aforementioned fields.
  • Peer-reviewed publications in high-impact journals in the aforementioned fields.
  • Well-established record in obtaining funding as PI for scientific research and/or mission/instrument development.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills, with the ability to both work as part of a team and lead a team.


Desired Skills

  • Experience in design/development/operation of missions, technology or instruments flown to space (preferably as PI or other leadership role).
  • Experience with mission concept development (preferably in a leadership role).
  • A track record of leadership in the scientific community, such as a history of: (i) organization of workshops, conference sessions and academic courses; (ii) invited talks and keynote lectures; (iii) fellowships and awards; and (iv) participation in panels and reviews for publications and proposals.
  • A record of teaching and/or mentoring the next generation of planetary scientists.

Complete applications will include a cover letter describing the applicant’s vision for their role at JPL as a leader and contributor in planetary science research, a curriculum vita including a bibliography of refereed and other work, a statement on research experience and research objectives, and contact information for at least three professional references.


Applications received by June 8, 2020 will receive full consideration. 


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JPL is an Equal Opportunity Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to sex, race, color, religion, national origin, citizenship, ancestry, age, marital status, physical or mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, pregnancy or perceived pregnancy, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, protected military or veteran status or any other characteristic or condition protected by Federal, state or local law.

In addition, JPL is a VEVRAA Federal Contractor.

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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 here.