SnT is a leading international research and innovation centre in secure, reliable and trustworthy ICT systems and services. We play an instrumental role in Luxembourg by fueling innovation through research partnerships with industry, boosting R&D investments leading to economic growth, and attracting highly qualified talent.

The Centre is rapidly expanding its research activities and is seeking highly motivated PhD candidates who wish to pursue research in close cooperation with our partners. For further information you may check: www.securityandtrust.lu  

You will join the new Space Systems Engineering group ( Together, we will design breakthrough space systems and cutting-edge systems engineering methods within the highly dynamic and rapidly growing Luxembourg space ecosystem. The PhD will be on the following topic: Miniaturized Laser Intersatellite Link System Design

We’re looking for people driven by excellence, excited about innovation, and looking to make a difference. If this sounds like you, you’ve come to the right place!

Your Role

CubeSats are proposed for forming satellite networks. Satellite networks are increasingly popular for missions requiring wide-area coverage, such as gravity mapping, wildfire tracking, or improved spatial and temporal resolution for threat-detection capabilities. For these applications, enabling satellites in the network to communicate by introducing intersatellite link capabilities would have benefits such as persistent connection, or reducing the waiting time for satellites to be in the range of a ground station, resulting in faster transfer speeds, higher bandwidth, and lower latency, enhancing time-sensitive data operations. Currently, the preferred technology for intersatellite links (ISL) is optical communication (in particular laser-based), due to its higher speed and data transfer capacity, higher modulation bandwidth and smaller and lighter antennas, in comparison to traditional radio frequency (RF) and microwave systems. Moreover, unlike RF and microwave technologies, laser intersatellite links (L-ISL) do not require spectrum licensing or frequency coordination, as the point-to-point laser signal is safe from interference. Advancements in L-ISL technology enabled the development of terminals with reduced size, weight, and power requirements to the degree that they can be integrated into kg-sized satellites. Miniaturized L-ISL terminals are an enabling technology for numerous space applications with numerous benefits such as shorter time-to-market (or time-to-science) and lower cost, reducing or eliminating the use of extensive ground-based relay systems and tracking systems, formation flying for high-quality data and services, increased temporal resolution and revisit rate, and unprecedented satellite missions such as opportunistic (on-demand, fast to deploy and decommission) missions for weather and agricultural data collection, disaster monitoring, or other forms of Earth observation.

The objective of this PhD thesis is to develop the system architecture and prototype of a miniaturized L-ISL communication terminal for 1U or smaller (subnano) satellites.

The planned research will explore how small a L-ISL terminal can be made to serve in a satellite network, how that network would look like and how it would serve various mission objectives.

A major outcome of this project is a prototype L-ISL terminal for subnano satellites ready to be tested in orbit in a technology demonstration mission. We will address this objective by conducting the following work:

  • Benchmarking, use cases and function model generation
  • Laser intersatellite link design exploration and conceptual design
  • Model-based Systems Engineering design of laser intersatellite link terminal and mission
  • Intersatellite link terminal prototyping and evaluation
  • Manufacturing, verification and potentially launch
Your Profile

Experience: The ideal candidate should have some knowledge and experience in some of the following topics:

  • Hands-on experience with the design of electronic components and small spacecraft, e.g. CubeSats, PocketQubes, etc.
  • Experience with spacecraft communication (ideally optical)
  • Systems engineering: Processes, methods, tools for developing complex systems
  • Model-Based Systems Engineering
  • Fundamentals of astronautics

You should have the following aptitudes:

  • Like to “build things”
  • Pragmatic and hands-on
  • Systems thinking: Holistic thinking, keeping the “big picture” in mind
  • Team player
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills

The position holder will be required to perform the following tasks:

  • Carrying out research in the predefined areas
  • Carrying out lab activities and maintenance in collaboration with other team members
  • Disseminating results through scientific publications
  • Assisting in the organization of relevant workshops

Qualification: The candidate should possess an MSc degree or equivalent in Engineering, Computer Science, Applied Mathematics or affine.

Programming Skills: Experience with programming spacecraft software or other embedded systems is an asset. Experience with Matlab, LabView, or another programming language is an asset.

Design tools: Experience with Eagle or other PCB design software is an asset. CAD software experience is also an asset.

Systems Engineering Tools: Experience with one or more MBSE tools (Cameo, MagicDraw, Capella, etc.) is an asset.

Language Skills: Fluent written and verbal communication skills in English are required.

Here’s what awaits you at SnT
  • A stimulating learning environment. Here post-docs and professors outnumber PhD students. That translates into access and close collaborations with some of the brightest ICT researchers, giving you solid guidance
  • Exciting infrastructures and unique labs. At SnT’s two campuses, our researchers can take a walk on the moon at the LunaLab, build a nanosatellite, or help make autonomous vehicles even better
  • The right place for IMPACT. SnT researchers engage in demand-driven projects. Through our Partnership Programme, we work on projects with more than 55 industry partners
  • Multiple funding sources for your ideas. The University supports researchers to acquire funding from national, European and private sources
  • Competitive salary package. The University offers a 12 month-salary package, over six weeks of paid time off, meal vouchers and health insurance
  • Be part of a multicultural family. At SnT we have more than 60 nationalities. Throughout the year, we organise team-building events, networking activities and more
  • Boost your career. Students can take advantage of several opportunities for growth and career development, from free language classes to career resources and extracurricular activities

But wait, there’s more!

In Short
  • Contract Type: Fixed Term Contract 36 Month (extendable up to 48 months if required)
  • Foreseen starting date (negotiable): End of 2022 / Early 2023
  • Work Hours: Full Time 40.0 Hours per Week
  • Employee and student status
  • Location: Kirchberg
  • Job Reference: UOL05850

The yearly gross salary for every PhD at the UL is EUR 39953 (full time)

How to apply

Applications should be submitted online and include:

  • Full CV, including list of publications and name (and email address, etc.) of three referees
  • Transcript of all modules and results from university-level courses taken
  • Research statement and topics of particular interest to the candidate (300 words)

All qualified individuals are encouraged to apply.

Early application is highly encouraged, as the applications will be processed upon reception. Please apply formally through the HR system. Applications by email will not be considered.

The University of Luxembourg embraces inclusion and diversity as key values. We are fully committed to removing any discriminatory barrier related to gender, and not only, in recruitment and career progression of our staff.

About the University of Luxembourg

University of Luxembourg is an international research university with a distinctly multilingual and interdisciplinary character. The University was founded in 2003 and counts more than 6,700 students and more than 2,000 employees from around the world. The University’s faculties and interdisciplinary centres focus on research in the areas of Computer Science and ICT Security, Materials Science, European and International Law, Finance and Financial Innovation, Education, Contemporary and Digital History. In addition, the University focuses on cross-disciplinary research in the areas of Data Modelling and Simulation as well as Health and System Biomedicine. Times Higher Education ranks the University of Luxembourg #3 worldwide for its “international outlook,” #20 in the Young University Ranking 2021 and among the top 250 universities worldwide.

Further information

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