PhD student (f_m_x) for the DFG-Project “AGORA”…

  • Contract
  • Germany
  • Posted 2 months ago

Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ)

Area of research:

PHD Thesis

Job description:The Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences is the national centre for geosphere research. As a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres we are part of the largest scientific organization in Germany. With approximately 1,400 employees our key mission is to secure a profound understanding of the systems and processes of solid Earth, to develop strategies and options for action in addressing global change and its impacts on a regional level, to understand natural hazards and to minimize associated risks, to ensure the sustainable provision of energy and raw materials for a high-tech society and to evaluate the influence of human activity on system Earth. As a partner in Geo.X, the GFZ has access to an excellent network of other geoscience institutions in Potsdam and Berlin. This largest regional concentration of geoscientific competence in Europe offers first-class cooperation and development opportunities. For Section 1.1: Space Geodetic Techniques (department “Geodesy”), we are looking for a:
Reference Number 7044

Besides the Earth Orientation Parameters, the space geodetic technique VLBI (Very Long Baseline Interferometry) provides the International Celestial Reference Frame (ICRF), current release ICRF3. For some years, the observing technique VLBI has been undergoing a modernization of its ground segment called VGOS (VLBI Global Observing System). ICRF3 contains the coordinates of extragalactic radio sources in three different radio frequencies. Since 2012, the European Space Agency (ESA) operates the Gaia satellite mission. At the moment the Early Data Release 3 (EDR3) is available from this mission. Gaia is a sky-scanning mission currently providing the most accurate star catalogue at optical wavelengths. The Gaia satellite orbits the Lagrange-2-point of the solar system and has no connection to the terrestrial reference frame ITRF (International Terrestrial Reference Frame) that represents the Earth surface; current version ITRF2020. In order to exploit Gaia data on the Earth surface or in Earth orbit, the data set needs to be transformed onto ICRF with highest possible accuracy.

Focus of the project is the determination of the transformation parameters between the Gaia data and the VLBICRF during the mission duration of Gaia and beyond. For this purpose, the current Celestial Reference Frame ICRF3 will be extended to include the VGOS and other VLBI observations, thereby providing the basis for the highly precise determination of the transformation parameters.

The position is part of a joint project with the Chair of Satellite Geodesy of the Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformation Science, Technische Universität Berlin. The project group led by Prof. Harald Schuh (Technische Universität Berlin and Director of GFZ department 1) and Dr. Robert Heinkelmann (Head of the VLBI group at GFZ) will also include a post-doctoral researcher. The two project scientists are expected to collaborate closely. The successful applicant will work together within this project group and with other VLBI scientists at GFZ Potsdam.

Your responsibilities:

  • Extension of the VLBI software PORT developed at GFZ in terms of VGOS data analysis and provision of the VGOS equation systems to the global solution to be implemented into PORT,
  • Application and optimization of the global solution for the combination of VGOS and standard VLBI data involving ties, such as local short baselines, local ties, global ties, and tropospheric ties in order to
  • Provide an improved Celestial Reference Frame during the Gaia mission duration and beyond on the basis of VLBI and VGOS observations.

Your qualifications:

  • University degree (Master, Diplom or equivalent) in geodesy, astronomy or a related discipline,
  • Scientists with a PhD degree („Post Doc“) can apply as well. However, the PhD degree is not a requirement.
  • Experience with data analysis of the space geodetic technique VLBI,
  • Favourably knowledge of astrometry and VLBI image processing,
  • Knowledge of programming languages such as MatLab and Python,
  • Very good command of English (written and spoken), and to be a team player.

Start date: As soon as possible
Fixed-term: The project duration is currently fixed to 30.06.2024. Thereafter we will extend the project and issue a contract to maximal duration within the remaining budget. Accordingly the actual fixed term depends on the available budget and the salary scale of the applicant.
Salary: The position is classed as salary group 13 according to “TVöD Bund (Tarifgebiet Ost)”. The salary group is determined on the basis of the Collective Wage Agreement and the respective personal qualifications.
Working hours: Part-time 75% (currently 29.25 h/week)
Place of work: Potsdam

What we offer:

  • Ambitious and varied tasks in a dynamic and international research environment
  • State-of-the-art equipment
  • Public service benefits
  • Extensive training opportunities
  • Professional career advice offered by our in-house Career-Centre
  • Flexible working hours and conditions
  • Support with finding a good work-life balance offered by [email protected]
  • Institute day-care centre on site
  • Working at the Albert Einstein science park on the Telegrafenberg in Potsdam
  • Work place within walking distance of Potsdam main train station, or just a short ride on the shuttle bus

Have we piqued your interest?
If so, we look forward to receiving your application by  15th February 2023. Please use our online application form only.

Diversity and equal opportunities are integral components of our human resources policy. The GFZ actively promotes diversity and explicitly welcomes applications from all qualified individuals, regardless of ethnic and social origin, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and identity, religion/belief, age and physical characteristics. Anyone who has been recognized as severely disabled, will be given preferential consideration in the event of equal suitability and qualification in accordance with the provisions of the German Social Code IX. If you have any questions, please contact our representative for the severely disabled at sbv[at], who will be happy to assist you in the further application process. In case of further queries regarding gender equality, please do not hesitate to contact our Equal Opportunities Officer at gba[at]

Your personal data will be processed for the purpose of conducting the selection procedure on the basis of Art. 6 para. 1 b, Art. 88 GDPR in conjunction with Art. 26 of the Data Protection Act for the State of Brandenburg. After completion of the procedure, application documents will be deleted in compliance with data protection regulations.

In case of any further queries relating to the field of activity, please contact Dr. Robert Heinkelmann either via email at robert.heinkelmann[at] or phone +49 (0)331 288-1144. If you have any general questions about the application process, please contact our recruiting team at our phone number +49 (0) 331-6264-28787.

This research center is part of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers. With more than 42,000 employees and an annual budget of over € 5 billion, the Helmholtz Association is Germany’s largest scientific organisation.

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