Advert. No. 2019_0038
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 Systems Engineering Department in the Directorate of Engineering (DoE) at the Headquarters in Garching near Munich, Germany, ESO is advertising the position of

Instrumentation Engineer/Physicist


Vacancy closed on 16/09/2019

Deadline 16/09/2019

The Systems Engineering Department is responsible for the design and development of advanced optical and infrared instrumentation for the telescopes of ESO's La Silla-Paranal Observatory and for the future Extremely Large Telescope. Some of the instruments are developed in-house at ESO - when manufacturing is usually sub-contracted to industry - but most are developed and built by consortia of Institutes in the community, with ESO being the customer for these instruments.

We are looking for an instrumentation engineer who will be responsible for the development and building of astronomical instrumentation from the first concepts to the final product delivered to and tested at the observatory.

The successful candidate will be motivated not only by new technical and managerial challenges but also in developing her/his interpersonal skills within an international environment.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

The successful candidate will

  • Work within the core teams responsible for in-house instrument development fulfilling the formal role of system engineer and/or project manager, and leading the team of engineers working on the project; or
  • Work within the core teams collaborating with/supervising external instrumentation consortia, supporting project management and/or system engineering from the ESO side;
  • Collaborate with ESO engineers from other projects and observatories to define common approaches and standards; and
  • Provide support to the Observatory staff for maintenance and problem solving for delivered instrumentation.


Essential Competences and Experience

  • At least three years of experience in the development of instrument systems, ideally for astronomical applications;
  • Several years of experience in system engineering and instrument system integration;
  • Experience in working in multi-disciplinary teams;
  • Work both on your own initiative and as part of a team;
  • Contribute ideas for improvements and developments to the working of the team;
  • Take over responsibility and take decisions;
  • Build strong collaborative working relationships with people from different cultural backgrounds and disciplines;
  • Flexibility in adapting to changes of requirements and priorities as well as of assignments;
  • Capability to work for different projects and with different teams (matrix structure), also in parallel.

Desirable Competences and Experience

  • A background in astronomy and experience with astronomical observations;
  • Skills in modelling instrument performance and calibration.


University degree in astronomy, physics or an engineering discipline

Language Skills:

Excellent level of English (working 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 any further information, please visit ESO's conditions of employment.

Duty Station:

The position is based in Garching, Germany. Frequent traveling to contractor sites in Europe and to construction sites in Chile is required. The jobholder will be required to work at high altitudes above 3000m. Temporary transfer or/and long missions to Chile might be needed.

Career Path: V


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

Applicants are invited to apply online via our ESO Recruitment Portal. 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.

Closing date for applications is 16 September 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, the United Kingdom and Chile irrespective of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, race or religion.

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