Postgraduate research project

Utilize Martian resources for future exploration: Develop a game-changing plasma-based ISRU system

Competition funded View fees and funding
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree
View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences
Closing date

About the project

This exciting PhD project offers a unique opportunity to develop a high-efficiency, all-in-one in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) system for future crewed Mars missions. Your research will explore the cutting-edge potential of non-thermal plasmas for two crucial objectives:

  • Purifying Martian water: Removing biological and chemical contaminants from water extracted from the Martian surface, enabling its safe use for astronauts.
  • Generating essential resources: Dissociating Martian CO2 to produce oxygen and rocket fuel, eliminating the need to transport these vital supplies from Earth.

Water, oxygen, and fuel are the lifeblood of any Mars mission. Due to the immense distance and travel time, transporting these necessities is simply not feasible. Enter ISRU, the key to a sustainable and independent future on Mars. This project will be built upon the University of Southampton's proven expertise in plasma technology. Our innovative plasma micro-bubble water (PMW) reactor can already remove 99.8% of chemical contaminants and achieve an 8-log reduction in biological contaminants.

This PhD project will push the boundaries of plasma technology by developing a novel, compact ISRU system. This project is also part of the UK Space Agency's exploration program, offering you the opportunity to contribute to real-world space exploration endeavors.

Benefits for the candidate: Gain invaluable experience in interdisciplinary research at the forefront of advanced plasma technologies and be part of a team poised to revolutionize future space missions.