Electronics Engineer

University of Bern Physics Institute

Electronics Engineer

The Space Research and Planetology Division at the University of Bern (WP, www.space.unibe.ch) offers a position as an intern to join its Space Science Group. The Space Science Group studies the chemical composition of tenuous upper atmospheres of Solar System objects using mass spectrometers. Over the past 50 years, our group has developed several instruments for major space missions. Advancing technology allows us to improve mass spectrometers constantly, especially regarding miniaturization. As the next step of miniaturisation, we are developing a high-performance CubeSat Time-Of-Flight mass spectrometer (CubeSatTOF, https://doi.org/10.1109/AERO53065.2022.9843767) that fits into 1U of a CubeSat, i.e., a volume of 1 litre.

CubeSatTOF mass spectrometer was selected as scientific instrument on board the Constellation of High-performance Exospheric Science Satellites (CHESS, https://doi.org/10.1109/AERO53065.2022.9843791) mission. The proof-of-concept of the ion optical system of the CubeSatTOF instrument was successful and outperformed its competitors regarding all assessed figures of merit. Laboratory electronics operated this ion optical system for these tests. We designed a breadboard version of the instrument containing the main subsystems. The next step is to reach a technical readiness level of the instrument that corresponds to engineering models, i.e., providing a stand-alone system with equivalent functionality, size, weight, and power consumption.

The goal of this ESA-funded project is to provide a miniaturised, operational electronics including low and high voltage power supplies for operation of the ion optical system, a filament controller providing electrons for electron ionization, power generation (DC/DC converters, filtering, LCL, etc.), a high-voltage pulser and read-out electronics. The design of the high-speed electronics is driven by a front-end containing a high-speed ADC (~1.6 GHz) interfacing the FPGA, which requires low-noise, low-intensity, low-power signal acquisition and processing. On the other hand, the design implements an ultra-fast high-voltage pulser (200 V in 1 – 2ns). The selected candidate will:
  • Develop, adapt, evaluate, and improve concepts for operation of the instrument and its Earth ground support equipment
  • Provide the schematics by adapting and merging existing blocks from evolved flight designs
  • Design, order, populate, commission, and test the electronics implementing the design
  • Develop and archive the according documentation
  • Prepare and perform tests in the according facilities and on board uncrewed aerial vehicles (drones)
  • Perform minor adaptations on the FPGA code, depending on the applicant's abilities and interests
  • Adapt existing code on the Earth ground reference model or the instrument ensuring operation
  • Support of / reporting to project management and systems engineering
The work will be carried out in close collaboration with other engineering disciplines, universities, universities of applied sciences and ESA. This position is available starting 1 January 2023, but could also be started earlier, and ends by 31 January 2024. Experience in the design of PCBs is necessary, preferred with Altium Designer. The candidate has an MSc in electronics engineering or is about to obtain such a degree, or similar experience. Experience with coding (FPGA, python) is a benefit, but not necessary. English language is necessary, German or French knowledge is an asset.

You will be part of a dynamic, cross-functional team whose mindset enables the realization of state-of-the-art space instrumentation on major ESA and NASA missions. The goal of this compelling project is to deliver the instrument to space within the next few years. We provide insights into the complex world of developing space instrumentation and introduce you to strategies to master such challenges.
Remuneration is in accordance with the personnel regulations of the Canton of Bern.
We welcome interested candidates to contact us for more information or directly submit an application:

Dr. Rico Fausch
+41 31 684 44 16

Prof. Dr. Peter Wurz
+41 31 684 44 26