Advert. No. 2018_0039
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 (ELT), which will become "the world's biggest eye on the sky" and whose operations will be fully integrated into the Paranal Observatory.


Due to the need for additional resources associated with the ELT programme, for its Electronic Engineering Department (ELE), within the Directorate of Engineering (DoE) at its Headquarters in Garching, near Munich, ESO is advertising the positions of

Detector Systems Engineer and Electronics Engineer


Vacancy closed on 27/01/2019

Deadline 27/01/2019

We are looking for two engineers to join the Electronic Detector Systems Group (EDES) to cover a wide range of roles, working in all aspects of delivering new detector systems to our observatories and partner organisations. The department comprises a group of 32 Electronic engineers and Technicians who are responsible for the definition, design and implementation of complex control systems for advanced optical and infrared astronomical instrumentation, detectors and telescope systems required for ESO's Observatories in Chile.

As Detector Systems Engineer, you may be involved in defining the appropriate sensor technology and detector controller systems to fulfil the astronomical scientific requirements of infrared and visible instruments and to design, modify, integrate and qualify these detector systems using proven calibration and test techniques. This might also mean working closely with the many different detector manufacturers and being able to specify the requirements of the devices and also to understand many of the complex semiconductor physics issues. You may also have responsibilty for the final performance of the delivered detector systems and be able to provide support to the observatory staff for long term maintenance and problem solving.

As Electronics Engineer you may be more involved in the detailed design of the electronics required to operate the latest generation of astronomical detectors. This might include VHDL design using the very latest FPGA technology with 10 Gbit link technology, or low noise analogue electronics circuit design, or the detailed design and development of the next generation of detector control systems which might include the development of ASICs etc. A list of some the responsibilities of the two possible position(s) are as follows.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

The successful candidates will work on a subset of the below mentioned fields:

  • Define and flow down requirements for future astronomical detectors and detector systems, working in collaboration with detector manufacturers and the scientific community;
  • Conduct technical assessments of instrument requirements and analyse detector system performance;
  • Provide technical direction to interdisciplinary teams to support the development of detector imaging systems;
  • Design, build and integrate complex astronomical detector systems, including all the required electronics and hardware;
  • Detailed design of new electronics for next generation detector controllers which might including high voltage clock circuitry, low noise electronic, high speed electronics, low noise bias generation circuitry and complex VHDL design;
  • Integrate, qualify and test IR/visible imaging systems using calibration techniques;
  • Collaborate with ESO Engineers from other projects and Observatories, to define common approaches and standards and share experiences;
  • Provide support to observatory staff for maintenance and problem solving on optical/IR detectors systems already in operation.

Reports to:

Head of the Detector Group of the Electronic Engineering Department.

Key Competencies and Experience:

We are looking for candidates at best already familiar with both fields, detector systems and electronic design.

For the Detector Systems Engineer the Essential competencies are:

  • Infrared/Visible detector system design, integration, qualification and test;
  • Semiconductor detector physics;
  • Signal and image processing concepts;
  • Radiometry and calibration techniques.

Desirable competencies, which are not mandatory, but considered an asset would be:

  • Experience with SW languages, such as IDL or Python;
  • Cryogenic/vacuum technology concepts and handling;
  • Handling of sensitive and expensive opto-electrical components, clean room experience;
  • VDHL design and implementation with latest generation of FPGAs;
  • Electronic circuit design.

For the Electronics Engineer the Essential competencies are:

  • High speed electronic schematic and corresponding layout design;
  • Good expertise with CAD schematic, simulation and PCB layout software and manufacturing constraints;
  • Design of very low noise electronics (d.c. to 30 MHz);
  • VDHL design and implementation with latest generation of FPGAs.

Desirable competencies, which are not mandatory, but considered an asset would be:

  • Handling of sensitive and expensive opto-electrical components, clean room experience;
  • Experience with electronic circuitry operational at cryogenic temperatures, Flex board design;
  • Infrared/visible detector system design.

For both positions you should have at least three years of professional work experience within the area of the aforementioned essential competencies.


University degree (MSc) in physics or electronics, or an equivalent educational level.

Language Skills:

A very good command of the English language - oral, reading and writing - is essential and a working knowledge of German or Spanish would be an advantage.

Remuneration and Contract:

We offer an attractive remuneration package including a competitive salary (tax free), comprehensive pension scheme and medical, educational and other social benefits, as well as financial help in relocating your family and the possibility to place your child/children in day care.

The contract is for a fixed term duration of three years, and is subject to successful completion of the probation period. There is a possibility of extension(s) subject to individual performance and organisational requirements, in particular for the ELT Programme, and as defined in the applicable policies and staff rules and regulations. For further information, please view ESO's conditions of employment.

Duty Station:

ESO Headquarters in Garching, near Munich, Germany.

Career Path: V


If you are interested in working in areas of frontline technology and in a stimulating international environment, please visit the ESO homepage for further details.

Applicants are invited to apply online via the ESO Recruitment Portal. Applications must be completed in English and should include a motivation letter and CV.

Deadline for applications is 27 January 2019.

Interviews are expected to start soon after this date.

No nationality is in principle excluded, however, recruitment preference will be given to nationals of Australia, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, 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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