Advert. No. 2018_0001
Working at ESO

Are you interested in working in areas of frontline technology and in a stimulating international environment? Do you feel your profile matches our requirements? Learn more about our current vacancies and apply online. Read more..

The European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world's most productive ground-based astronomical observatory. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in northern Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor (home to ALMA and APEX), and the ESO Headquarters are located in Garching, near Munich, Germany. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world's most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, ESO is building the 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope, which will become "the world's biggest eye on the sky" and whose operations will be fully integrated into the Paranal Observatory.


For its Headquarters in Santiago de Chile, ESO is offering an

Internship in 3D Astronomical Data Visualization with Virtual Reality


Vacancy closed on 28/02/2018

Deadline 28/02/2018

Data visualization has always played a key role in Astrophysics: both for scientific analysis, and for outreach purposes. The advent of Virtual Reality, and in particular its recent expansion into the generic consumer world, is opening new data visualization opportunities for Astronomy: a field in which the vast majority of datasets are intrinsically multi-dimensional. We are offering an internship to help bridge the current gap existing between Astrophysical datasets and Virtual Reality systems nowadays available off-the-shelf. The successful applicant will work closely with Dr. Frederic Vogt at ESO headquarters in Santiago, Chile, to develop a dedicated VR experience to visualize real observations of supernova remnants, acquired with the MUSE integral field spectrograph mounted on one of ESO's 8.2m telescope at the observatory of Cerro Paranal. These state-of-the art datasets allow to reconstruct the full 3D structure of massive stars a few 1000 years after they exploded: the ideal case to build a demonstration VR experience using real scientific data.

During this internship, the successful applicant will be expected to:

- Interact with Dr. Vogt and other ESO astronomers to understand the data formats and visualization needs specific to Astrophysics.

- Identify suitable open-source solution(s) to transform real Astrophysical datasets (usually analyzed and dealt with in Python) into VR compatible content.

- Create a full VR experience "from scratch" for the MUSE observations of supernova remnants at hand, using open source software.

- Explore the possibility of creating "generic" VR solutions for other astrophysical datasets, in collaboration with the Education and Public Outreach Department (EPOD)

- Document the outcome of the project in a detailed report, give a presentation at ESO's headquarters in Santiago, and (possibly) write a dedicated article in ESO's Messenger journal. The successful applicant will have full access to a dedicated VR system (most likely an HTC Vive and its dedicated computer running Linux or Windows) for the duration of the internship. The project is expected to primarily make use of Python and Unity3D, although the successful applicant is also encouraged to suggest alternative (open source) tools if/where appropriate.


We are looking for someone who wants to gain experience in VR and scientific data visualization, by constructing full VR experiences for state-of-the-art, real 3D astronomical datasets. Ideally, the intern should have some prior experience with Virtual Reality, including the creation of custom VR content and experiences. The project will (most likely) make use of the HTC Vive: existing knowledge of this tool would be a plus. You should be fluent in English. Candidates currently studying or having recently completed a University degree in informatics, game design, or any scientific field with suitable experience in the visualization of complex, multi-dimensional datasets are preferred. No astrophysics background is required, but the willingness to learn about typical data formats, tools and analysis procedures in Astronomy will be expected.

Key Competences

  • Knowledge of Unity3D (to develop a VR experience from scratch) and Python (the prime language of professional astronomers)
  • Excellent personal strengths: creativity, eagerness to learn, self-motivation, ability to "think outside the box"
  • Ability to build good collaborative working relationships with people from different cultural backgrounds and disciplines.

Internship details

This internship is for 3-3.5 months period, with a monthly allowance to cover your living expanses and accommodation in Santiago. We also cover the cost of the airfare for your return trip to/from Chile. The project is expected to start in June 2018. Earlier/later starts are possible, but not later than mid-August 2018. For any further questions, please contact Dr. Frederic Vogt:


If you are interested in our internship opportunities you are invited to apply online at Applications must be completed in English and should include a motivation letter and your CV. Please include a list of prior experiences with VR.

Closing date for applications is 28 February 2018, or until the position has been filled.

No nationality is in principle excluded however, recruitment preference will be given to nationals of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom irrespective of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, race or religion.

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