Advert. no. 2022_0014
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. 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.


Due to the need for additional resources associated with the ELT programme, for its Electronic Engineering Department (ELE), within the Directorate of Engineering (DoE) at its Headquarters in Garching, near Munich, ESO is advertising the position of

Detector Systems Electronics Engineer


Vacancy closed on 01/05/2022

Deadline 01/05/2022

We are looking for a new engineer to join the Detector Systems Group (EDES) within the Electronics Department of ESO, to cover a wide range of roles, but mainly working in all aspects of designing and delivering new detector systems and their electronics to our observatories and partner organisations. The Electronics Department comprises a group of 32 electronics engineers, physicists and technicians, who are responsible for the definition, design and implementation of complex control systems for advanced optical and infrared astronomical instrumentation, detectors and telescope systems required for ESO's Observatories in Chile.

As a Detector Systems/Electronics Engineer, you will be involved in defining the appropriate sensor technology and detector controller systems to fulfil the astronomical scientific requirements of visible and IR instruments and to design, modify, integrate and qualify these detector systems using proven calibration and test techniques. Therefore, we would be particularly interested if you have good relevant experience with optical detectors such as CCDs or their CMOS equivalent. You will also have responsibility for the final performance of the delivered detector systems and be able to provide support to the observatory staff for long term maintenance and problem-solving.

The top priority in the early days for this new position is to prove the performance of our new detector controller, which is in development now, carrying out performance verification with real detectors, operational in an astronomical environment. With a good electronics engineering background you may also be involved in some aspects of the detailed design of the electronics required to operate the latest generation of astronomical detectors. Depending on your experience of electronics, this might include the design of parts of the detector systems, such as using the very latest low noise analogue electronics circuit designs for preamplification and which are operated cryogenically.

As already stated, we are designing and developing a new detector controller based on the µTCA architecture with the use of multiple complex FPGAs, with 10 Gbit link technology and with low noise bias generation circuitry.

A good summary of the role of the new position would therefore be a mixture of the design, development, characterisation and test of optical detector systems as well as their associated analogue and digital electronics.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

The successful candidate will work on a subset of the below mentioned fields:

  • Develop, integrate, qualify and test visible imaging systems using ESO hardware and industry standard calibration techniques
  • Design, build and integrate complex astronomical detector systems, including the required electronics and hardware
  • Detailed design of new electronics for next generation detector controllers which might include, high voltage clock and bias circuitry, low noise electronics, high speed electronics and electronics for cryogenic operation
  • Provide support to observatory staff for maintenance and problem solving on optical/IR detectors systems already in operation
  • Define and flow down requirements for future astronomical detectors and detector systems, working in collaboration with detector manufacturers and the scientific community
  • Conduct technical assessments of instrument requirements and analyse detector system performance.

Duties and responsibilities are not limited to the above, and a flexible approach and willingness to adapt is required.

Key Competencies and Experience:

We are looking for a candidate who is already familiar with the main fields described, that is electronics design and detector systems. The essential and desirable competencies are as follows.

Essential competencies:

  • Development, integration and test of new detector systems (CCD and/or CMOS)
  • High-speed electronic schematic design and its corresponding PCB layout and/or analogue electronic circuit design with experience in design of low noise electronics (d.c. to 100 MHz)
  • Effective and committed team player with ability to look for pragmatic solutions
  • Excellent cross-disciplinary communication skills, both oral and written

Desirable competencies would be:

  • Electronics circuit design and PCB layout
  • Experience with software scripting languages, such as Python
  • Handling of sensitive and expensive opto-electrical components, clean room experience
  • Experience with FPGA based digital logic developments in VHDL, including a good understanding of FPGA design and architectural concepts for FPGA based SoCs.

For the position you should have at least three to five years of professional work experience within the area of the aforementioned essential competencies.


University degree (MSc) in preferably electronics or physics with proven electronics experience, or an equivalent educational level.

Language Skills:

A very good command of the English language - oral, reading and writing - is essential and a working knowledge of German or Spanish would be an advantage.

Reports to:

Head of the Detector Group of the Electronic Engineering Department.

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 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 ( Please note that the contract policy and in particular the regulations concerning fixed-term and indefinite contracts are currently under review which may lead to changes in the contractual conditions applicable to this position.

Starting Date:

As soon as possible

Duty Station:

ESO Headquarters in Garching, near Munich, Germany.

Career Path: V


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. 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 1 May 2022.

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, ethnicity or religion.

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