PhD Research Fellowships on Small Satellite Systems for Ocean Applications

Trondheim, Norway
05 Apr 2017
End of advertisement period
24 Apr 2017
IE 046-2017
Contract Type
Full Time

The position’s field of research/research project

NTNU has established a new research program, with a concerted and unified cross-disciplinary focus on designing, building and operating small satellites (or SmallSats) as parts of a system of autonomous robots and agents for maritime sensing, surveillance and communication. Such ubiquitous cyber-physical systems enable not only significant reduction in costs, and increased safety, but even more importantly provide substantially more continuous information about the observed targets and features of scientific interest synoptically. This domain focus includes oceanographic studies, climate research, resource management, environmental monitoring, industrial exploration and exploitation of maritime resources, fisheries, surveillance of maritime transportation, search and rescue, among other applications. Our vision is that Smallsats should be affordable, single purpose with dedicated capabilities, software-centeric, and seen as an integral part of robotic agents coupled with in-situ presence using autonomous aerial, surface and underwater vehicles for a portable earth observation network that can be actively designed, configured, operated and controlled to fulfill specific mission objectives. The university already has an extensive field driven program marine robotics which includes aerial, surface and underwater vehicles. In addition, this program will leverage existing collaborations with Norwegian industry and government institutions as well as international collaborations with European and US partners, who can benefit from research outcomes of this proposed work.

Topics of the planned PhD research projects:

  1. Broadband software-defined radio systems for Smallsats. The project will include definition of relevant experiments for small satellites. This can range from adaptive communication services, frequency mapping/channel measurements and SDR hardware and front-end design. Contact: Professor Nils Torbjörn Ekman, Department of Electronic Systems, .
  2. Rapid mission systems engineering for Smallsats. The project will focus on creating a methodology for rapid integration of a scientific mission, including how to define, procure and integrate the space segment according to the mission definition and requirements. How to adapt COTS products into space-capable payloads and systems. Oceanographic observation with surface robots and imaging with Smallsats. Contact: Associate Professor Egil Eide, Department of Electronic Systems,
  3. Hyper-spectral imaging with precision attitude control and energy management in Smallsat. The project will research the iterative design and coordination of the attitude determination and control (ADC), imaging and energy systems, to achieve optimal conditions for imaging, especially during a slew maneuver, considered energy constraints and attitude determination and control performance. Contact: Professor Jan Tommy Gravdahl, Department of Engineering Cybernetics, .
  4. Coordinated oceanographic observation system with autonomous aerial/surface robots and hyper-spectral imaging in Smallsat. The research project will consider small satellites with a hyper-spectral camera as an intelligent agent in tightly controlled and coordinated missions involving also unmanned aerial vehicles and unmanned surface vehicles. The autonomous agents can exchange information to solve joint mission tasks. Oceanographic applications in marine biology will be developed together with collaborators to demonstrate the benefits of the research. Contact: Professor Tor Arne Johansen, Department of Engineering Cybernetics, .

The research will involve conceptual and theoretical design studies, design of payload system, implementation and testing in hardware and software in cube- and microsatellite systems, and experimental system studies in satellite missions at NTNU and partners. NTNU is also planning to design and operate our own payloads and cube-satellite systems in this research program.

The PhD positions are with the Department of Electronic Systems and the Department of Engineering Cybernetics. The research and education at these departments cover a wide range of relevant topics including electronics, sensors, signal processing, communication, embedded systems, robotics, autonomous systems, unmanned vehicles, artificial intelligence, radio systems, navigation, and automatic control. These departments also have extensive research on marine and maritime applications.

The research activity is associated with the Center of Excellence on Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems (AMOS) at NTNU ( The Center for Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems (NTNU-AMOS) contributes with fundamental and interdisciplinary knowledge on autonomous systems in marine applications.

The research activity is also associated with the Faculty for Information Technology and Electrical Engineering’s strategic research area Coastal and Arctic Maritime Operations and Surveillance (CAMOS). The aim of CAMOS is to accelerate the development of research activity within costal and maritime operations at NTNU.

Qualification requirements

Successful applicants must have a Master degree in electrical engineering, control engineering, aerospace engineering, electronics, cybernetics, or a related discipline. Applicants are required to justify their candidateship by explicitly explaining their personal motivation and academic aptitude for pursuing a doctoral degree within this research field. Applicants that expect to complete their Master degree studies by summer 2017 can apply. Applicants that expect to complete their master degree by summer 2018 in Electronic Systems or Cybernetics and Robotics at NTNU can apply for admission to an integrated PhD program, which is an alternative curriculum starting from the 9th semester.

Academic results, publications, relevant specialization, work or research experience, personal qualifications, and motivation and a desire to make an impact on critical societal problems will be considered when evaluating the applicants.

It is a prerequisite that the PhD scholar applies for and is granted admission to the NTNU PhD studies as soon as possible after employment. NTNUs PhD-rules require a Master degree or equivalent with at least 5 years of studies and an average ECTS grade of A or B within a scale of A-E for passing grades (A best). Applicants must be qualified for admission as PhD students at NTNU. See for information about PhD studies at NTNU.

Excellent English skills, written and spoken, are required. Applicants from non-European countries where English is not the official language must present an official language test report. The following tests can be used as such documentation: TOEFL, IELTS or Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) or Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE). Minimum scores are:

TOEFL: 600 (paper-based test), 92 (Internet-based test)

IELTS: 6.5, with no section lower than 5.5 (only Academic IELTS test accepted)

CAE/CPE: grade B or A.

Formal regulations

Appointments are made in accordance with the regulations in force regarding terms of employment for PhD candidates issued by the Ministry of Education and Research, with relevant parts of the additional guidelines for appointment as a PhD candidate at NTNU.

Applicants must undertake to participate in an organized PhD programme of study during their period of employment. The person who is appointed must comply with the conditions that apply at any time to employees in the public sector. In addition, a contract will be signed regarding the period of employment.

The successful candidate will be appointed for a period of 3 years, with possible extension to a fourth year if the candidate and department agrees on teaching related duties.

The research of this project has civilian objectives. However, equipment restricted by export licenses and ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) is being used in this research area. Applicants that are citizens of Norway, NATO countries, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, or Sweden are eligible. Other applicants must provide evidence of eligibility to use such equipment for their application to be considered.

Salary conditions

The position follows code 1017, salary grade 50 – 62 in the Norwegian State salary scale, gross NOK 435 100 – 535 500 per year, depending on qualifications. A deduction of 2% is made as a statutory contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.


NTNU can offer an informal and friendly workplace with dedicated colleagues, academic challenges and attractive schemes for home loans, insurance and pensions in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering wants to attract outstanding and creative candidates who can contribute to our ongoing research activities. We believe that diversity is important to achieve a good, inclusive working environment. We encourage all qualified candidates to apply, regardless of the gender, disability or cultural background.

Under Section 25 of the Freedom of Information Act, information about the applicant may be made public even if the applicant has requested not to have his or her name entered on the list of applicants.

Applicants are kindly requested to send a diploma supplement or a similar document, which describes in detail the study and grading system and the rights for further studies associated with the obtained degree.

The application with a CV and certified copies of diplomas and certificates must be sent electronically via this page with information about education and relevant experience (all in one combined PDF file). Please, specify which of the planned PhD research projects you are applying for.

Mark the application IME 046-2017.

Deadline for applications: 2017-04-24.

About this job

  • Deadline Monday, April 24, 2017
  • Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Website
  • Municipality Trondheim
  • Place of service Trondheim
  • Jobbnorge ID 136815
  • Internal ID IE 046-2017
  • Scope Fulltime
  • Duration Project

About applications

  • Applications on this job are registered in an electronic form on
  • You must complete: Standard CV
  • Please refer to where you first saw this job advertised!

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