ETH Zürich

PhD Position: The Origin of Lunar Crustal Magnetization

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PhD Position: The Origin of Lunar Crustal Magnetization

We are looking for a highly motivated PhD student interested in studying the lunar magnetic fields and crustal structure. Your research will be part of an SNSF funded project “Using magnetic fields to explore terrestrial bodies in our Solar System” and offers a PhD position with PI Dr. Anna Mittelholz. The position is expected to start in spring/summer 2024. 

Project background

As an increasing number of missions are heading to the Moon, this PhD will focus on understanding the evolution of lunar crust, with a particular focus on its magnetic and gravity signatures. 

Magnetic dynamos are result of vigorously convecting iron in the core and thus, their presence or absence serves as window into the deep interior. The crust provides a record of ancient dynamo fields because when rock gets emplaced, e.g. in volcanic eruption, or heated/shocked, e.g., during an impact, it can get magnetized in the presence of a dynamo field. At the same time rocks get demagnetized if any of those processes happen in the absence of a dynamo field. As such, the Moon’s geodynamic evolution, beginning with a magma ocean, subsequent bombardment and extensive mare volcanism has left imprints in the crustal record that can be identified at the surface from imagery and topography, and the subsurface via gravity and magnetic field records. 

Job description

The PhD project aims to leverage existing and publicly available satellite data to investigate the Moon's evolution recorded in its crust. The central inquiries involve understanding the longevity and evolution of the lunar dynamo and identifying sources responsible for observed crustal magnetization and density anomalies. This knowledge is instrumental in unraveling the underlying geological and geophysical processes that have shaped the Moon's evolution. By accurately determining the origin and distribution of magnetization, we can better interpret the Moon's history, tectonic activities, and magnetic dynamo behavior, contributing to a holistic comprehension of its geological past and dynamic characteristics.

Further, we are currently working on a lunar mission proposal and this PhD work will directly aid in understanding interpretability of data collected at the surface. As such it will help our mission to hopefully get to the Moon! 

Your profile

  • You are an enthusiastic researcher interested in planetary sciences
  • You enjoy programming and have experience with Python in data analysis and/or numerical modeling
  • You hold a MSc in geophysics or planetary sciences

We offer

The Institute of Geophysics group at ETH Zurich is embedded in a vibrant Earth Science department, which will offer many opportunities for collaborative projects. The department itself hosts a variety of groups interested in planetary evolution and has a strong presence in the NASA InSight mission. Your research will be part of an ongoing effort to unravel related questions. 

We further offer training in teaching through teaching assistantships, as well as access to state-of-the-art laboratories and research equipment. ETH Zurich is a family-friendly employer with excellent working conditions.  

Working, teaching and research at ETH Zurich

We value diversity

In line with our values, ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our Equal Opportunities and Diversity website to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.

Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:

  • A brief cover letter summarizing your motivation to apply for the position
  • Your CV 
  • Names and e-mail address of two referees
  • Your transcripts

For more information on this project, you may contact, Dr. Anna Mittelholz (, however please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered. 

If you are interested, please submit an application by Feb 29, 2024. We will start evaluating applications by February 15, 2024. 

About ETH Zürich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.


PhD Position: The Origin of Lunar Crustal Magnetization
Rämistrasse 101 Zürich, Schweiz
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ETH Zürich is well known for its excellent education, ground-breaking fundamental research and for implementing its results directly into practice.

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