Postdoc: Exoplanetary Atmospheres

Job Summary

Post-doctoral Positions and Fellowships
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement
In-Person Location(s)

Pasadena, CA
United States

Job Description

Job Details


New ideas are all around us, but only a few will change the world. That’s our focus at JPL. We ask the biggest questions, then search the universe for answers—literally. We build upon ideas that have guided generations, then share our discoveries to inspire generations to come. Your mission—your opportunity—is to seek out the answers that bring us one step closer. If you’re driven to discover, create, and inspire something that lasts a lifetime and beyond, you’re ready for JPL.


Located in Pasadena, California, JPL has a campus-like environment situated on 177 acres in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and offers a work environment unlike any other: we inspire passion, foster innovation, build collaboration, and reward excellence.



JPL is unique among NASA Centers in that its staff are Caltech employees, yet can access NASA technical resources. Cross-discipline teamwork is standard here: colleagues across JPL's science and engineering organizations and on Caltech's academic campus often work together. Learning to speak and understand other disciplines' languages is a doorway to the creativity needed to do what has not been done before. JPL staff are encouraged to create mission concepts that address humanity's core questions through a combination of science and technology. They are supported in developing ideas into proposals and hardware, and in communicating funded missions' results to the scientific community and the broader public. JPL seeks to employ scientists and engineers who are passionate about lifelong learning and excited to both contribute to and lead team efforts. We emphasize the importance of partnering across discipline boundaries and creating a friendly, constructive work environment to overcome space exploration's challenges. The Postdoctoral scholars at JPL benefit from an informal mentoring network, an annual conference showcasing their results, a dedicated seminar series, exposure to diverse career paths, and social connections across the JPL and Caltech community for advice on housing, childcare, and other aspects of living in southern California.


The Astrophysics and Spaces Science section of JPL invites applications for one postdoc position on the studies of exoplanetary atmospheres.


With JWST’s revolutionary capabilities, we are acquiring spectroscopic observations of sub-Neptune-sized exoplanets as temperate as Earth and smaller exoplanets with a likely rocky composition. For example, JWST has obtained the transmission spectra of K2-18 b, LHS 1140 b, and TOI-270 d and will observe TOI-4336 b and many more such planets. These observations provide the opportunity to study their atmospheric chemistry in depth and assess their internal composition and potential habitability. JWST will also survey a handful of hotter, and likely rocky planets in the thermal infrared to determine their surface or atmospheric composition. These datasets provide an unprecedented opportunity to test the models of atmospheric evolution and retention, and eventually, inform the conditions to form Earth-like habitable planets. The new observations also demand atmospheric radiative transfer and chemistry models in unique temperature, pressure, irradiation, and redox conditions.


The successful candidate will work at the forefront of exoplanet characterization in collaboration with Dr. Renyu Hu and will have the opportunity to extract science results from multiple JWST programs, develop and apply advanced atmospheric models to interpret observations, and use a combination of observations and theories to investigate the evolution and climate of small exoplanets. The postdoc is also encouraged to leverage the team’s expertise to develop new science cases and observational techniques for future JWST cycles. This synergy between modeling and observations has a potential for groundbreaking discoveries.


The postdoc will also have the support to interact broadly with planetary scientists and astrophysicists at both JPL and Caltech, and will fully benefit from the intellectual environment in both institutions.


Required Qualifications:

  • A Ph.D. degree in Planetary Science, Astronomy, or a related field is required.


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Strong motivation and experience in conducting observational and theoretical studies of exoplanet atmospheres are encouraged to apply.

  • Relevant experience includes the science case development, data reduction, and science analysis for the observations of exoplanets from space (e.g., Hubble, Spitzer, and JWST) or from the ground, 1D and 3D modeling of exoplanet atmospheres, the studies of solar-system planets, as well as relevant modeling, data-intensive, or instrumentation studies in astronomy.

  • Knowledge of spectral retrieval or demonstrated experience in synergistically working with observers and modelers is a plus. Scientists who are from minority groups underrepresented in astronomy are strongly encouraged to apply.


A start date in the fall of 2024 is desirable. The initial appointment is for one year, renewable up to 3 years contingent on funding and performance. Applicants may be subject to additional program requirements by NASA.


Applicants should apply via the JPL Jobs website and submit a CV including a publication list, representative publications, and a cover letter that briefly describes research experience and achievements, future research interests, as well as how the candidate would support diversity and inclusion at JPL. The applications should also include the names and contact information of at least three references, and reference letters will be requested for shortlisted candidates. The deadline for applications is April 28, 2024. Questions should be directed to Dr. Renyu Hu ([email protected]).



JPL has a catalog of benefits and perks that span from the traditional to the unique. This includes a variety of health, dental, vision, wellbeing, and retirement plans, paid time off, learning, rideshare, childcare, flexible schedule, parental leave and many more. Our focus is on work-life balance, and living healthy, fulfilling lives as we Dare Mighty Things Together. For benefits eligible positions, benefits are effective the first day of the month coincident with or immediately following the employee’s start date.


For further benefits information click Benefits and Perks


The hiring range displayed below is specifically for those who will work in or reside in the location listed. In extending an offer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory considers factors including, but not limited to, the candidate’s job related skills, experience, knowledge, and relevant education/training. Hiring range for this job may be adjusted based on primary work location outside of Pasadena, California. This adjusted range will be provided to candidates by the Recruiter when applicable.


The typical full time equivalent annual hiring range for this job in Pasadena, California.


$82,180 - $83,680


JPL is an Equal Opportunity Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to sex, race, color, religion, national origin, citizenship, ancestry, age, marital status, physical or mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, pregnancy or perceived pregnancy, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, protected military or veteran status or any other characteristic or condition protected by Federal, state or local law.


In addition, JPL is a VEVRAA Federal Contractor.


EEO is the Law.

EEO is the Law Supplement

Pay Transparency Nondiscrimination Provision


The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a federal facility. Due to rules imposed by NASA, JPL will not accept applications from citizens of designated countries or those born in a designated country unless they are U.S. Citizens, Legal Permanent Residents of the U.S or have other protected status under 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3). The Designated Countries List is available here.

Compensation and Benefits

Compensation Type
Compensation Range
$82,180USD to $83,680USD

Application Details

Publication Start Date
2024 Apr 04
Application Deadline
2024 Apr 28


Dr. Renyu Hu