PhD Studentship in Spacecraft Engineering

Imperial College London - Department of Aeronautics

Title: Deployable aero-decelerators for manned missions to Mars

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship in the field of spacecraft engineering within the Department of Aeronautics, Imperial College London.

This PhD will investigate the design, simulation and test of a deployable Martian lander engineering model (EM). The aim is to demonstrate repeated successful deployment and retraction, and to characterize the structural response to aerodynamic loading representative of the descent to the Martian surface. Specific tasks will include: (1) design and testing of candidate deployment mechanism architectures; (2) deployment and stowage tests with the lander in a gravity-offloaded (zero-g) environment using videogrammetric motion tracking; (3) wind tunnel tests of the fully-deployed lander architecture using time-resolved photogrammetry, and force and pressure measurements. These activities will be supported by the Department’s in-house manufacturing capabilities and extensive available instrumentation. The project builds on ongoing research at Imperial and the successful applicant will join an active research team working on adaptive systems for high-speed aerodynamic environments.

Imperial College London consistently ranks amongst the world’s top universities. The Department of Aeronautics has a strong track record for producing world leading research and is home to a number of unique world-class experimental facilities, two of which — the flight arena and 10´5 wind tunnel — will be utilized in this project.

Applicants should have a keen interest and solid background in Spacecraft/Aerospace engineering, including a strong grasp of structural mechanics and high speed aerodynamics. Experimental experience is highly preferred. Familiarity with Python and finite element analysis is desirable.

Applications are invited from candidates with (or who expect to gain) a first-class MEng (or equivalent) degree in Aerospace Engineering (for more details, see

Funding is available for UK citizens and EU citizens who have resided in the UK for the past three years. The studentship is for 3.5 years and covers tuition fees and an annual tax-free stipend of approximately £16,553.

Informal enquiries regarding this position should be made to both Dr Paul Bruce ( and Dr Matthew Santer (, who will be the co-supervisors for this project.

Queries regarding the application process should be directed to Ms Lisa Kelly (

Closing date for applications: 15 May 2018

Start Date: 01 October 2018

Committed to equality and valuing diversity. We are also an Athena SWAN Bronze Award winner, a Stonewall Diversity Champion and a Two Ticks Employer.

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