Advert. No. 2020_0055
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 (VLT), 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 European 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 at the Headquarters in Garching near Munich, Germany, ESO is advertising the position of a

Instrumentation Engineer/Physicist


Vacancy closed on 16/01/2021

Deadline 16/01/2021

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 the future Extremely Large Telescope. Some of the instruments are developed in-house at ESO, 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 a highly motivated instrumentation engineer who will be responsible for the development, integration, and verification of astronomical instrumentation from the first concepts, to the final product delivered to and tested at the observatory. The successful candidate will be interested not only in new technical and managerial responsibilities but also in developing their interpersonal skills within an international environment.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

The successful candidate will

  • Work as the ESO Systems Engineer and manage the technical aspects for the follow-up of the external development of optical / near-infrared instruments for the VLT and ELT;
  • Collaborate with ESO engineers from other projects and departments, to define common approaches and standards for instrumentation projects;
  • Provide support to the Observatory staff for maintenance and problem solving for the delivered instruments.

Reports to:

Head of the Instrument Systems Group within the Systems Engineering Department


Essential Competencies and Experience

  • A few years of experience in the development of optical / near-infrared systems, ideally for astronomical applications;
  • A few years of experience in System Engineering and familiarity with Systems Engineering processes and tools;
  • Experience in working in multi-disciplinary and multi-national teams;
  • Experience in working with consortia of scientific institutes;
  • Work both on your own initiative and as part of a team;
  • 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; and
  • Capability to work for different projects and with different teams (matrix structure), also in parallel.

Desirable Competencies and Experience

  • A background in observational astronomy;
  • Familiarity with operational aspects at astronomical observatories; and
  • Experience in Model-Based Systems Engineering.


University degree in astronomy, physics, or an engineering discipline.

Language Skills:

Excellent command of the English language.

Remuneration and Contract:

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

The title or grade may be subject to change according to qualification and the number of years of experience.

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 ESO's conditions of employment (

Duty Station:

Garching near Munich, Germany with regular duty trips to ESO sites in Chile. Frequent travel to scientific institutes within Europe and to the observatories in Chile will be necessary. Temporary transfer or / and long missions to Chile might be needed.

Career Path: V


If you are interested in working in areas of frontline 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.

Closing date for applications is 16.01.2021.

ESO has established diversity as an important value of the Organization, is committed to providing an equal opportunities environment and is actively seeking to promote a diverse and inclusive workforce.

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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