Advert. No. 2019_0022
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, and will host and operate the southern array of the Cherenkov Telescope Array, the world's largest and most sensitive high energy gamma-ray 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 the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) in Chile, within the Directorate of the La Silla Paranal Observatory, ESO is advertising the position of

Senior Engineer/ Senior Scientist – APEX Station Manager

Sequitor, San Pedro de Atacama

Vacancy closed on 30/06/2019

Deadline 30/06/2019

The Atacama Pathfinder Experiment is a collaboration between the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie (MPIfR), the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and Onsala Space Observatory (OSO). APEX operations in Chile have been entrusted to the La Silla Paranal Observatory (LPO) on behalf of the APEX Board. APEX employs around 20 staff members (engineers, scientists, and support staff) who operate this single-dish, modified ALMA prototype antenna, located on the high-altitude site (5.100m a.s.l.) of Chajnantor near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

The Station Manager will be responsible for the successful execution of the project within budget and schedule in accordance with APEX Board's decisions. Working closely with the teams from the APEX partner institutes and other external partners involved in the project, the successful candidate will be responsible for a broad range of scientific and operational matters including, but not limited to, the operation of the antenna and its suite of state-of-the-art facility instruments and its/their continuing upgrades, including preventive and corrective maintenance, as well as managerial logistic and other administrative aspects. The main tasks of the successful candidate will include:

  • Managing technical and scientific operations and other operational issues of the antenna and its facilities;
  • Implementing overall Board science policies and strategic planning, and preparing reports required for the site's successful operations;
  • Participating in and supporting all installations at the telescope (facility and PI);
  • Participating in and supporting commissioning and science verification activities; performing acceptance reviews for all facility deliveries, provide acceptance reports for all facility deliveries to the Board;
  • Advising on and implementing improvements and optimizations of the sites' operations and its facilities through project follow-up;
  • Implementing and following-up safety issues as defined by the APEX Board;
  • Managing observing schedules, including technical time, and coordinating observing time;
  • Directing all aspects of the site's facilities ensuring full operability;
  • Managing personnel and budgetary matters, coordinating and optimizing the use of the manpower available at the site;
  • Regular reporting to the APEX Board and liaising with APEX partners and other interlocutors involved in the project.

Reports to:

S/he will report directly to the APEX Board and to the La Silla Paranal Observatory Director.

Key Competences and Experience:

Essential Competences and Experience The position requires the ability to manage and prioritise a variety of technical, logistical, astronomical and practical aspects. S/he must be able to base and justify decisions on technical as well as astronomical judgments. Excellent communication skills and a strong sense of team spirit are essential.

Desirable Competences and Experience

Ability to effectively lead, supervise, mentor, develop and evaluate staff and design training/skills enhancement initiatives to ensure effective staff development.


University degree in Engineering, Science or equivalent with five years of relevant "in the field" engineering and operation experience in competitive multi-discipline scientific or high technology projects. This position requires a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of submillimetre wavelength detector and antenna technology. Also, a thorough understanding of the operations of an astronomical submillimetre wavelength observatory, both from the engineering, scientific and operational point of view is essential. Experience in the management of collaborative international or inter-agency scientific projects would be an advantage.

Language Skills:

The position requires a good knowledge of English. Working knowledge of Spanish or willingness to learn it.

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. The contract is for a fixed term duration of three years and is subject to successful completion of the probation period. There may be 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 any further information, please visit

Duty Station:

The duty station is APEX site (Sequitor near San Pedro de Atacama). The working schedule is typically 8 days on duty followed by a 6 days rest period (8/6) with accommodation provided on site. The position requires regular duty travels to Europe. Place of residence shall be preferably Santiago.

Career Path:



If you are interested in working in areas of frontline science and technology and in a stimulating international environment, please visit and 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 30 June 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.

Contact us