Advert. No. 2018_0041
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.


For its Science Operations Software Department (SCS), within the Directorate of Engineering (DoE) at its Headquarters in Garching, near Munich, Germany, ESO is advertising the position of

Software Engineer

Dataflow Development


Vacancy closed on 31/12/2018

Deadline 31/12/2018

We are looking for a software engineer to join our Data Flow Infrastructure (DFI) group in the Science Operations Software (SCS) department of the Directorate of Engineering. The DFI group is responsible for the development and maintenance of software tools which are critical for the end-to-end operations of the ESO observatories and in particular associated with the ELT programme:

  • Phase 1 proposal specification, submission, validation, and refereeing;
  • Long-term and short-term observation scheduling;
  • Phase 2 observation specification in visitor and service mode, as well as night/shift reporting and run progress reporting;
  • Archive applications: transfer, archiving and distribution of raw and processed data;
  • Archive query interfaces (e.g.;
  • Data organization and pipeline processing infrastructure.
  • Quality control infrastructure.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

Your first assignment will be the development and maintenance of software tools supporting Science Operations at the La Silla Paranal Observatory and at the ESO Headquarters in Garching. You will frequently interact with the Project Scientists for the specification and the validation of the tools and with the Dataflow Project Manager for planning and scheduling the work. You will be able to operate independently, meet the agreed deadlines and proactively contribute to on-going process improvements. You will also participate in the development of the ELT dataflow system. Your main duties will be:

  • Interact with the Project Scientists for the specification and validation of the assigned software tools. This task involves the translation of scientific requirements to software requirements;
  • Maintain and further develop the existing operational tools, with an emphasis on supporting the VLT/ELT science archive and data handling infrastructure;
  • Collaborate with the software engineering and operational teams to integrate and deploy the software tools;
  • Participate in the general development activities in the Dataflow Infrastructure group.

Reports to:

Head of the Dataflow Infrastructure Group

Key Competences and Experience:

Essential Competences and Experience:

  • Demonstrated capability of conducting small to medium size software projects throughout the entire software lifecycle from requirements, analysis, design, implementation, up to successful deployment;
  • Strong conceptual and analytical skills;
  • Capability to adjust quickly to changing circumstances and being prepared to work on an already very advanced development;
  • Very good oral and written communication skills;
  • Right balance between maintaining the big picture and a hands-on attitude to get things done with a proactive can-do attitude;
  • Strong experience developing software in Java;
  • Sound knowledge of relational databases and SQL;
  • Good familiarity with the Linux environment and its command line usage;
  • Knowledge of standard software development processes, preferred agile or iterative;
  • Knowledge of software engineering principles and tools like configuration management and bug reporting.

Desirable competences and experience, which are not mandatory, but considered an asset:

  • Design and implementation of REST APIs;
  • Interfacing Java to relational databases using JDBC and high-level frameworks such as Spring and Hibernate;
  • Angular or other JavaScript MVC frameworks;
  • Scripting languages: Groovy, Python, Bash, etc.;
  • Elasticsearch;
  • Experience in scientific software and astronomical data formats (e.g. Flexible Image Transport System);
  • Experience in working in international/multicultural teams.


University degree in Computer Science, Astronomy, Physics, Engineering, or equivalent.

Language Skills:

Excellent command of the English language

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:

Garching near Munich, Germany with occasional duty trips to the ESO sites in Chile.

Career Path: V


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

Applicants are invited to apply online at Applications must be completed in English and should include a motivation letter and CV. Within your CV, please provide the names and contact details of three persons familiar with your work and willing to provide a recommendation letter upon request. Referees will not be contacted without your prior consent.

Deadline for applications is 31 December 2018

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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