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PhD Studentship in Geoscience: Mechanochemical-UV Generation of Perchlorates and Reactive Nitrogen on Mars (funded by the UK Space Agency)

Newcastle University

Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
Salary: £16,062 - please see advert
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 26th May 2023
Closes: 30th June 2023
Job Ref: SNES257

Award summary

100% of home tuition fees covered, and a tax-free annual living allowance of £16,062.

Overview

Interested in understanding the past and present habitability of Mars? This PhD will investigate the mechanisms and rates of perchlorate and nitrate generation on Mars, linking to past and future in situ measurements on the Martian surface.

Perchlorates and nitrates have been measured on the surface of Mars. Perchlorates lower the freezing point of water and expand the areas where life could survive today, or in the past. When heated, they react with organic molecules, potentially providing an explanation for some results of life detecting experiments carried out by the Viking lander missions in the 1970s. Figuring out when on Mars nitrogen in the atmosphere was 'fixed' into other forms such as nitrate is also important, as nitrogen is (after carbon) the second most important nutrient for life.

This studentship will use laboratory experiments to mimic wind-driven and ultraviolet radiation-driven chemical reactions on Mars. Results will be used to help interpret in situ analyses of perchlorate and nitrogen compounds on the Martian surface.

You will receive training and gain skills in experimental design, geochemical analyses (including stable isotopes) and modelling. The project involves collaboration with Aarhus University (Denmark), and the student will be expected to spend some time (one to two weeks) each year working in Aarhus.

Number of awards: 1

Start date: 18th September 2023

Award duration: 3 years

Sponsor: UK Space Agency

Supervisors

Dr Jon Telling (School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Newcastle University)

Dr Erli Lu (School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Newcastle University)

Professor Jan Kaiser (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia)

Eligibility Criteria

You must have, or expect to gain, a minimum 2:1 Honours degree (or international equivalent) or Master’s in a relevant science subject (e.g. Earth Sciences, Chemistry, Environmental Sciences, Physics, or similar).

Home and international applicants are welcome to apply. Successful international candidates will be required to fund the difference between the home fees and international fees. Applicants whose first language is not English require an IELTS score of 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in all sub-skills.

International applicants may require an ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) clearance certificate prior to obtaining their visa and to study on this programme.

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s Apply to Newcastle Portal

Once registered select ‘Create a Postgraduate Application.

Use ‘Course Search’ to identify your programme of study:

  • Search for the ‘Course Title’ using the programme code: 8314F
  • Select PhD Geoscience (full time)’ as the programme of study 

You will then need to provide the following information in the ‘Further Questions’ section:  

  • A ‘Personal Statement’ (this is a mandatory field) - upload a document or write a statement directly in to the application form  
  • The studentship code SNES257 in the ‘Studentship/Partnership Reference’ field  
  • When prompted regarding your research proposal - select ‘Write Proposal’. You should then type in the title of the research project from this advert. You do not need to upload a research proposal.

Contact details: Dr. Jon Telling (jon.telling@newcastle.ac.uk)

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