Modelling tidal dissipation for Jupiter's moon Io

Modelling tidal dissipation for Jupiter's moon Io

Published Deadline Location
23 Jan 22 Feb Delft

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Jupiter's moon Io

Job description

Jupiter’s moon Io is the most volcanically active body in the solar system. With its extreme heat output and powerful volcanic eruptions it is an analogue for early Earth and exomoons close to their central body. Heat is generated in its interior by tidal dissipation, but it is not known how this heat gets concentrated and develops into hotspots that can be observed.

In this PhD you will simulate the tidal dissipation and heat transfer in Io using a numerical model. The model will be compared with heatflux observations from past and current missions and ground telescope observations. With the new model you will investigate how tidal dissipation can drive the observed pattern of volcanism. A challenge is to link the model to melt and magma intrusion and eventually to simulate an individual regional hotspot within the global model. The results will help to understand Io, but also the potential observability of volcanism on exomoons, and provide a unique window on terrestrial planets in their early evolution.

The project builds on an earlier PhD project in our group that developed a model based on finite element modelling and new code in Python. This model can be extended to simulate realistic interior structures including melt. Observations of Io by Galileo, Juno, JWST and earth telescopes should be compiled and a large-scale heatflow map produced, to validate the model. The PhD project is supported by a team of international scientists with expertise on observations and modelling of Io. Funding includes computer and necessary software and travel to conferences as well as research visits to project 


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


  • Obtained or soon to be obtain MSc degree (or an equivalent degree which allows you to start a PhD) in physics, engineering, earth or planetary science, or a closely related field
  • Strong background in numerical modelling and programming
  • Proficient in English. For information please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.
  • Experience in finite element modelling and Python is welcome but not a requirement.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1.5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2.5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!


Faculty Aerospace Engineering

The Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Delft University of Technology is one of the world’s most highly ranked (and most comprehensive) research, education and innovation communities devoted entirely to aerospace engineering. More than 200 science staff, around 250 PhD candidates and over 2,700 BSc and MSc students apply aerospace engineering disciplines to address the global societal challenges that threaten us today, climate change without doubt being the most important. Our focal subjects: sustainable aerospace, big data and artificial intelligence, bio-inspired engineering and smart instruments and systems. Working at the faculty means working together. With partners in other faculties, knowledge institutes, governments and industry, both aerospace and non-aerospace. Working in field labs and innovation hubs on our university campus and beyond.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD03384


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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