ESAC supervisor(s): Michael Kueppers, Sebastien Besse

The successful Rosetta mission has observed comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko over several years and threfore numerous observations of the nucleus of the comet are available for scientific analysis. Over 1000 scientifc papers have been published using the data produced by the Rosetta mission. Many of these papers are concentrating on surface features, morphology and dynamic of this same surface. The objective of this project would be to integrate from the scientifc literature all those features, and new identified structures, in one single framework. Often, those features such as boulders, craters, pits, etc.. are identified on different shape models, different reference frame. The grouping of all those products within the same framework will open new research opportunities. Specific tools such as the Small Body Mapping Tool would be use to produce individual layers of all the morphological features into one single framework. It is envisioned that at the end of the project, those products will be made available to the community through archiving facilities such as the ESA Planetary Science Archive.   

Project duration: 3-6 months

Desirable expertise or programming language:

  • Interest in planetary science is a great addition.
  • Generic knowledge in geological/morphological processes is prefereable.
  • Knowledge on Geographical Information System (GIS) and reference system is anticipated to be needed towards the end of the project. 


ESAC supervisor(s): Georgina Graham, Andrew Walsh, Yannis Zouganelis

The Sun continuously releases a vast quantity of plasma into space - this outflow is known as the solar wind and the region of space that it encompasses is known as the heliosphere. This solar wind plasma flows at high velocities and is subject to forming shock waves when it encounters obstacles. In particular, interplanetary shocks will often develop when a stream of fast solar wind rams into a slower stream of plasma or when large, explosive releases of solar plasma, known as coronal mass ejections, propagate at high speeds through the surrounding solar wind. Heliospheric shocks are collisionless shocks, so unlike shock waves in the Earth's atmosphere, particle energy is transferred through electromagnetic fields instead of binary particle collisions. 

In this project, we will make use of high-resolution, in-situ particle and electromagnetic field data from the Cluster spacecraft quartet to examine and characterise the suprathermal solar wind electrons associated with interplanetary shocks.

The successful applicant will gain experience of research in heliophysics and practical knowledge of programming. If the project is successful, we anticipate publishing the results.

Project duration: 3 to 6 months

Desirable expertise or programming language:

  • Knowledge of Python and/or IDL. 
  • Applicants should be in their final years of a University course at Masters Level (or equivalent) in physics, astrophysics or space science.  


ESAC supervisor(s): Pedro Osuna, Andrew Walsh

ESA's Solar Orbiter Mission will launch in February 2020 and will study our star in unprecedented detail, answering the question "How does the Sun create and control the heliosphere?" It will fly on an eccentric orbit with perihelion inside the orbit of Mercury, and, later in the mission, with an inclination high enough to give us our first view of the Sun's poles. Solar Orbiter carries a comprehensive payload of 10 instruments, made up of a total of more than 30 telescopes, particle detectors and electromagnetic field sensors, that can measure the Sun and its environment in radio, visible light, UV and X-rays, can detect and characterise solar energetic particles and cosmic rays, the plasma of the solar wind, and the interplanetary magnetic and electric fields.

All data from Solar Orbiter's instruments will be available to the public via the Solar Orbiter Archive (SOAR), hosted at ESAC, Madrid, Spain. To make it as easy as possible to access the data, we want to provide a high level means of accessing Solar Orbiter data as part of the SunPy ( and HelioPy ( packages, used and maintained by the scientific community. The goal of this project is to provide modules for SunPy and HelioPy that can provide direct access to the Solar Orbiter data extracted from the SOAR using its available interface, a version of the IVOA TAP (

Initially, the project will consist of writing a module that can access the different data product types at file granularity level from the SOAR; seamless integration with the rest of routines from SunPy and HelioPy will be required. A further implementation could provide access at the database level using the functionality -under implementation- at the SOAR that will allow to search all the time series data as metadata in the database.

Project duration: 6 months

Desirable expertise or programming language:

  • a strong background (at his/her current study levels) on Software Engineering, in particular in the Python language,
  • some background on Science preferably related to space and plasma science, and/or solar physics