Research Scientist

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
14 Jun 2022
End of advertisement period
12 Jul 2022
Contract Type
Full Time


Research Scientist

2. Job Purpose

  • To provide high quality research support and undertake internationally competitive research aimed at publication thereby contributing to the academic and research mission of the University.
  • Since the Research Scientist’s experience is transitional to becoming an independent researcher or faculty member, the Research Scientist tries their best to acquire the varied skills necessary to advance their career with guidance from the advisor. These skills include, but are not limited to, the ability to present research plans and findings in a convincing style, both in oral and written modes of communication, the ability to understand research group management and supervision of others, the ability to establish contacts and network with colleagues pursuing a similar research agenda, the ability to organize and teach a class or a course if more inclined towards a teaching career.

3. Key Roles & Responsibilities

Strategic Responsibilities

The successful applicant will expand Khalifa University (KU) expertise in space mission design and analysis by improving the simulation orbital propagation toolbox of the Astrodynamics Group under the supervision of Dr. Elena Fantino. These enhanced capabilities will boost UAE’s technical and scientific autonomy in the aerospace sector, represented by the UAE Space Agency and the local industry. They will also foster interest of the wider public towards scientific and engineering knowledge, and will contribute to the consolidation of the research group in Astrodynamics at KU. The Research Scientist will support the creation and consolidation of collaborations with foreign research and academic institutions

Operational Responsibilities

The successful candidate will develop improved analysis capabilities for the astrodynamics research group led by Dr. Elena Fantino. The applicant is expected to expand the functionality of the group’s orbital propagation and analysis software. The main lines of development will be:

  1. Improved simulation capabilities for long-term orbital propagation of n-body systems, including figure effects (i.e., non-spherical shapes)
  2. New methods for characterization of the dynamical structure of n-body systems, with an emphasis on the application of Lagrangian descriptors to the three-body problem.

The first line will complement the existing high-accuracy spacecraft orbit modelling toolbox. Using reduced-order modelling techniques, including propagators based on mean orbital elements, the new software will address long-term stability of planetary and stellar systems, and provide in-house ephemeris generation capability. These ephemerides will be used as input for determining third-body gravitational perturbations in high-accuracy spacecraft trajectory modelling. To improve the scope of application, coupled translational-rotational dynamics of non-spherical bodies will also be considered. Efficient methods for computing trajectories of large collections of bodies will be researched for long-term analysis of large satellite constellations as well as moons of giant planets, to assist in the design of lunar tours.

The second line of research concerns the complex dynamics of n-body systems bound by gravity which enable low-energy trajectories connecting the equilibrium points of the of the system. To improve upon the traditional approach, based on Poincarè maps of the CR3BP (Circular Restricted 3-Body Problem), the successful candidate will investigate the application of Lagrangian descriptors to gravitationally-bound systems (including, but not limited to, the CR3BP).

These developments will assist the ongoing efforts of the Astrodynamics group in spacecraft trajectory design and optimization. In addition, they will expand the scope of application to large satellite constellations, and system of astronomical interest, like moons and planet systems.

The successful applicant is expected to work independently on the assigned tasks, to collaborate with the rest of the research group, to guide graduate students in their research, to assist with preparation of research proposals, document research results in refereed journal publications and present them at conferences and to the general public. The expected total duration of the appointment is three years, with continuity conditioned to a successful performance review at the end of the first year. The expected start date is August 2022.


4. Qualifications & Experience

Required Qualifications

PhD Degree in PhD in Aerospace/Aeronautical/Mechanical Engineering, Applied Mathematics or equivalent

Required Experience

Min.(2+) years Postdoc experience with good research achievements/potential. Expertise in astrodynamics and celestial mechanics is a must. In particular, the successful candidate must hold proved research experience in several of the following areas: spacecraft trajectory design with gravity assist, multi-body dynamics (three-, four- and n-body problem), trajectory optimization, low-energy transfers, maneuver design, orbital propagation, orbit perturbations. An established, high-quality publications record in this field is required. Knowledge in the broader area of spacecraft and space mission design will constitute an advantage. Excellent written and oral communication skills are indispensable.

Should you require further assistance or if you face any issue with the online application, please feel to contact the Recruitment Team (

Primary Location: KUK – Khalifa University
Job: Research Scientist
Schedule: Regular
Shift: Standard
Job Type: Full-time

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