LE STUDIUM RESEARCH FELLOWSHIP - Cosmic Dust space instrumentation

Smart Loire Valley Programme

 (Open to experimented international researchers*)

Research Field: Cosmic Dust space instrumentation


For several years, the Planetology Research Group of the Laboratoire de Physique et Chimie de l'Environnement et de l'Espace (LPC2E, CNRS-Université Orléans) in region Centre-Val de Loire, France, is actively involved in the study of a new generation of space high-resolution mass spectrometry instrument based on the Orbitrap™ analyser. This project offers the prospect of a breakthrough in the performances of future space mass spectrometers as our goal is to reach at least M/∆M 50 000 at masses of 100 to 200 u.  Such instruments would allow the identification, by in situ mass spectrometry, of high mass, complex organic molecules in various planetary contexts considered as future prime targets for exobiology research, such as Mars, Saturn’s moons Titan and Enceladus, Jupiter’s icy moons Europa and Ganymede, comets and asteroids. The R&D programme undertaken by a Consortium of 5 French laboratories led by LPC2E is focused on the core of such future instruments (the analyser/detector and its immediate peripheral electronics, hereafter called Cosmorbitrap). Full instrument concepts based on the Cosmorbitrap coupled to front-ends specific to the targeted planetary environment are either under study or being designed in the framework of international collaborations. We are seeking a top-level scientist with extensive experience in mass spectrometry to strengthen the team involved in this very exciting and promising planetary science research effort identified as a strategic development by the French Space Agency, CNES.


LE STUDIUM fellow should have strong experience in mass spectrometry instrumentation and related science, in particular in sample ionisation technics. He/She will play a key role in the studies of the coupling between the Cosmorbitrap and the front-ends developed within one of our international collaboration focused on cosmic dust mass spectrometry. While the team has strong expertise in planetary science and space mass spectrometry development, it would strengthen and consolidate its strategy to optimise the Cosmorbitrap development if the STUDIUM fellow would have some expertise in laser-matter interaction.

LE STUDIUM Research Fellows meet on the first Thursday of the month for a seminar and are required to organise an international conference together with their host scientist and the logistics support of LE STUDIUM.


  • To perform research in the field of cosmic dust science
  • To perform laboratory experiments with the Cosmorbitrap prototype on planetary material analogs
  • To participate to the interface development between the Cosmorbitrap and the relevant ionisation subsystems
  • To participate in the definition of experimental protocols and their writing of technical documentation
  • To publish with the team results obtained from the undertaken work


The position is intended to attract candidates with at least five, but preferably ten years postdoctoral experience, with or without a permanent position. The successful candidate will have proven experience in planetary sciences, mass spectrometry instrumentation and laboratory experiment protocols. He/she will work within a research group dedicated to the development of a new generation of space instrumentation for future planetary missions. He/she should be motivated to contribute to the formulation of new goals and strategies for cosmic dust astronomy research that will be opened by the capabilities of the new high-resolution mass spectrometry instrument under development within an international collaboration.

Required skills are:

  • Planetary sciences and/or exobiology background
  • Experience in mass spectrometry instrumentation
  • Experience in laser desorption instrumentation and laser-matter interaction would be an advantage, although not required
  • Capability to work both independently and within a highly collaborative, interdisciplinary environment
  • Excellency in written and verbal communication skills, including the ability to make clear and concise presentations at international conferences
  • Fluent (both spoken and written) in English – French language would be an advantage but not required


(*) To be eligible, applicant researchers must be national or long-term resident of a country other than France. Long-term residents are researchers who spent a period of full-time research activity of at least 5 consecutive (without breaks in research) years in a country other than France. A selection committee working according to European Union Charter for Researchers will independently assess applications.

The position is based in Orléans, France and offers a non-renewable term of one year. The successful applicant will be encouraged to take up the post as from January 2017 and not later than end of June 2017.

Entitlements detailed in the contract of employment for the fellowship, include:

  • a monthly gross remuneration,
  • the rental costs of a fully furnished apartment adapted to his/her family situation. Utilities (water, heating, electricity, local council tax) remain at the charge of the fellow.
  • a contribution to a private medical protection scheme for all health costs complementing the French basic social security protection,
  • administrative assistance for all matters related to integration in France (schools, cultural, social and sports activities, income taxes…)
  • logistical and technical assistance for travels and housing.

Work hours, vacation and travel expenses are bound by the same regulations as those effective for the personnel of the host laboratory. Upon recruitment, an agreement will be signed between the Fellow, le Studium and the host laboratory, that will give details about mutual obligations and provide guidelines for activity reports, intellectual property and confidentiality.

The yearly gross salary amount is 48000 euros.

A member of LE STUDIUM operational team will assist the incoming fellow in all matters to make his/her experience in the region Centre-Val de Loire successful.

Conditions of application

Deadline for application is the 31st May 2016

  • Enter your candidate information
  • Complete the online application form
  • Upload your resume (no more than 2 pages) and motivation letter