Advert. No. 2019_0069
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 its Maintenance, Support and Engineering Department at the La Silla Paranal Observatory, ESO is advertising two positions of

Software Engineer


Vacancy closed on 29/02/2020

Deadline 29/02/2020

The successful candidate will be responsible for the maintenance and support of the software applications on the distributed computing architecture that controls the telescopes and instruments, and the supporting systems.

See the ESO engineers podcast at:

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Maintenance and support of software written in C/C++, TCL/Tk, Python and different Web technologies.
  • Troubleshooting and following up on operational problems.
  • To be the software specialist in a multidisciplinary team performing commissioning/testing of new systems developed by external parties, and to act on the role of designer/developer for new internal applications.
  • Participate in general group activities and perform other tasks as assigned.
  • To maintain reliable configuration management of the software systems and applications.
  • To define, implement and execute test cases, automated whenever reasonable and document results.

Reports to:

The Software Group Leader within the Maintenance, Support and Engineering (MSE) Department of the Paranal Observatory.

Competences and Experience:

  • Minimum of two years of professional work experience in software development covering the full life cycle: design, implementation and test
  • Experience in a Linux development environment
  • Proficient in C/C++
  • Experience with Python development
  • Knowledge of standard software development processes
  • Knowledge of software engineering principles and tools for configuration management, bug reporting, testing, etc.
  • Experience in working in a team
  • Curiosity and eagerness to learn

Desirable competences and experience (one or more):

  • Experience in PLC development (Beckhoff/Siemens).
  • Experience in setting up continuous integration and continues delivery environments for software.
  • Experience in test automation.
  • Experience in real-time control systems development and testing.
  • Experience in VxWorks/VMEBus.


The candidate should have a university degree in Software or Electronics Engineering, Computer Sciences or equivalent.

Language Skills:

As ESO is an international organization where the official language is English, it is required that the candidate has a good command of written and spoken English, both for regular interactions and for technical discussions.

Remuneration and Contract:

We offer an attractive remuneration package including a competitive salary, comprehensive maternity-parental, educational, and other social benefits, as well as financial help in relocating the candidate's family, if needed. See a summary at

The initial contract is for a period of two years with the possibility of indefinite extension, subject to evaluation. The title or grade may be subject to change according to qualification and the number of years of experience.

Duty Station:

For the first six months:

Paranal Observatory, in the II Region, 150km South of Antofagasta. Working schedule will be 8 days on duty and 6 days off duty (8x6) with accommodation provided on site when on shift. Transportation arrangements from and to the official pickup points (Santiago, La Serena, Antofagasta) are provided by ESO.

After the initial six months, staff has the possibility to opt for a mixed shift schema, consisting in a cycle of two 8x6 shifts at the Observatory followed by two weeks of regular Monday to Friday work in ESO office in Vitacura, Santiago.

Career Path:



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, in English.

Deadline for applications is 29 February 2020

No nationality is excluded, however non-Chilean applicants must have the pertinent working permit, according to Chilean regulations, at the time of the application. The post is equally open to suitably qualified candidates irrespective of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, race or religion.

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