Advert. no. 2021_0037
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.


Within its Maintenance, Support and Engineering Department (MSE) at the La Silla Paranal Observatory, within the Directorate of Operations, ESO is advertising a Local Staff member position of

Mechanical Engineer


Vacancy closed on 17/10/2021

Deadline 17/10/2021

See the ESO engineers podcast at:

The successful applicant will be part of the Mechanics Group within the Maintenance, Support and Engineering (MSE) Department at the Paranal site of the La Silla Paranal Observatory (LPO). The MSE Department of the Paranal Observatory with a workforce of 80 engineers and technicians provides maintenance and technical support to the four 8m VLT telescopes, to the VLT Interferometer with its auxiliary telescopes, the VST and VISTA survey telescopes and to all instruments available for scientific observations. Astronomical instruments are large, complex facilities involving advanced technologies in the fields of optics, precision mechanics, electronics, cryogenics, detector acquisition systems and software. In the future, the ELT will integrate the family of telescopes to be operated as part of the Paranal Observatory.

The Paranal Mechanical Engineering (PME) group is comprised of 19 engineers and technicians and is responsible to:

  • Primarily maintain and ensure the availability of all mechanical equipment o the Paranal Observatory (except Telescope Instruments), all cooling equipment (except Telescope Instruments cryogenics parts), large handling equipment, production of mechanical pieces, movement/lift of heavy equipment, and work package management of outsourced contract for mechanical services.
  • Support to other groups like Instrumentation, Optics and Electronics & Electrical groups in their fields of expertise, like Instrument movement, coaters operations and maintenance, power generation and other interdisciplinary projects in collaboration with project teams for integration and testing of new equipment.
  • Define, design and implement upgrades related to improvements on the above mentioned equipment, including management of outsourced resources eventually contracted for such improvements.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

The selected candidates will have the following responsibilities:

For the assigned system(s):

  • Be responsible of all maintenance activities and obsolescence analysis and perform troubleshooting and repair activities.
  • Ensure the availability and performance according to technical specifications.
  • Propose change request and implement once approved (technical analysis, design, implementation, commissioning, documentation).
  • Interact with Head Quarter Experts (In Munich) for new projects and important upgrades.
  • Interact with Support and Quality Assurance group for planning, spare parts definition, maintenance plan optimization, documentation and quality control.
  • Coordinate mid/long term activities (and short term when on site) of colleagues and contractors.
  • Lead root cause analysis, recovery plans and write reports in case of critical failures.
  • Coordinate and supervise contractor activities in close coordination with the Outsource Contract Work Package Manager.

Support activities:

  • Participate to the daily troubleshooting and corrective maintenance activities.
  • Assembly-Integration-Verification of new systems ensuring the transfer of knowledge from project team to the operational team.
  • Supports Instrumentation, Optics and Electronics & Electrical Groups in the mechanical field.
  • Any critical LPO activities for which mechanical competencies are requested.

Reports to:

Group Leader of the Paranal Mechanical Group.


The candidate has ideally a few years of professional experience in the field of advanced mechanical systems, preferably involving high precision mechanics and/or opto-mechanical systems with knowledge of pneumatic, hydraulics, cooling, and air conditioning system. Field experience and interest for maintenance of mechanical equipment. Experience in telescopes and in a multicultural environment would be an asset; experience in managing small projects would also be valuable.

Key Competences:

  • Ability to understand the "big picture" and the details of complex systems, their interfaces, and their performances.
  • Ability to troubleshoot and solve problems under difficult working conditions and with tight deadlines.
  • Real interest to learn or apply maintenance and trouble-shooting techniques.
  • Hands-on experience, in particular for mechanical assemblies.
  • Strong sense of team spirit with the ability to work effectively in a multi-national and multi-cultural environment, promoting the sharing of ideas and opinions, respecting, and accepting eventual differences.
  • Good self-organization.
  • Ability to constructively suggest improvements to work processes.
  • Plan effectively and monitor progress of work, deliver results on time and to standards


University degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Language Skills:

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.

Remuneration and Contract:

We offer an attractive remuneration package including a competitive salary and educational benefits, as well as financial help in relocating the candidate's family, where applicable. The initial contract is for a period of two years with the possibility of indefinite extension, based on technical and managerial achievements. Please see a summary at

Duty Station:

Paranal Observatory located 120 km south of the city of Antofagasta, Chile. The nominal working schedule will be 8 days on duty and 6 days off duty (8x6) with accommodation provided on site during the shifts.

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 should include a motivation letter and CV in English. Applications submitted in other languages will not be considered.

Interviews will be held in English.

ESO has established diversity as an important value of the Organisation; it is committed to providing an equal opportunities environment and is actively seeking to promote a diverse and inclusive workforce. The post is equally open to suitably qualified candidates irrespective of nationality, gender, age, disability, ethnicity, or religion.

Non-Chilean applicants to this role must reside in Chile and have a pertinent working permit, according to Chilean regulations, at the time of their application.

Deadline for applications is 17 October 2021.

Interviews are expected to start soon after this date.

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