Advert. no. 2022_0024
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 an International Staff member position of

Instrumentation Engineer


Vacancy closed on 15/08/2022

Deadline 15/08/2022

The Instrumentation Group is comprised of 15 engineers, physicists and technicians and is responsible for all astronomical instruments at the Paranal Observatory. The group is responsible for 'Maintenance in Conditions of Operations' (MCO) of all instruments (including Adaptive Optics systems like MACAO & CIAO, VLTI Instruments, Laser Guide Star Facility, Mask Manufacturing Unit), MCO of detector and opto-mechanical labs, MCO of technical equipment in New Integration Hall, and clean room for interface and follow-up of new instruments, and finally Work Package management of outsourced support maintenance contract. For further information about working at ESO, see the podcast "Engineers at ESO" at:

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

The successful candidate will have the following main duties:

As instrumentation engineer, have the technical responsibility of one or more instruments:

  • Be responsible of all maintenance activities (corrective and planned) and obsolescence analysis
  • Ensure the availability of the instruments according to specification
  • Interact with the Instrument Scientist to assess the performance of the instruments
  • Organize with the Instrument Scientist the Instrument Operation Team meetings and coordinate activities with the Science Operations Department.
  • Propose and implement change requests (analysis, design, implementation, commissioning, documentation)
  • Interact with the instrument experts at ESO headquarters and with the Support and Quality Assurance group (planning, spare parts, maintenance plan optimization, documentation and quality control)
  • Coordinate and supervise contractor activities in close coordination with the outsource contract manager

As instrumentation engineer, support activities:

  • Participate to the daily troubleshooting and corrective maintenance of instruments a required
  • Lead performance analysis and maintenance on instruments
  • Assembly Integration and Verification of new systems and ensure the transfer of knowledge from project to the dedicated team
  • Any critical Paranal observatory activities for which your competencies are requested by your manager

Reports to:

The Instrumentation Group Leader.


The ideal candidate has at least three years of professional experience in one or more of these areas:

  • The field of astronomical or scientific instrument development and operations, including optical analysis, by using a variety of engineering tools and standard methodologies
  • Assembly, integration, and verification of astronomical or scientific optical instrumentation.

Knowledge and experience, theoretical and practical, in at least two of the following domains will be an asset:

  • Interferometry
  • Optical design and analysis (optical quality and straylight)
  • Optical alignment and verification
  • Adaptive optics and laser guide star
  • Spectroscopy
  • Mechanism in cryo-vacuum conditions
  • Opto-mechanical design, analysis, and integration

Key Competences:

  • Ability to understand the 'big picture' and the details of complex systems, their interfaces, and their performance.
  • Ability to troubleshoot and solve problems under difficult working conditions and with tight deadlines.
  • Real interest to learn maintenance and trouble-shooting techniques.
  • Analytical skills to evaluate performance or troubleshoot issues using telemetry from various sensors
  • Having a fine grasp of practical work, in particular for optical alignment or AO calibration.
  • Strong sense of team spirit with the ability to work effectively in a multi-national and multi-cultural environment
  • Good self-organization
  • Constructively suggest improvements to work processes
  • Plan effectively and monitor progress of work, deliver results on time and to standards
  • Some project management skills and experience would be an asset to execute small improvement projects


University degree in physics, optics, engineering or astronomy. Specialisation in the field of astronomical instrumentation and/or system engineering, or equivalent, is desirable.

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. Good knowledge of Spanish would be an asset.

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 if needed.

ESO aims to support members of personnel in maintaining a good work-life balance ( between their professional and private life. ESO is also committed to offering family-friendly support (, creating a work environment and policies which allow staff to balance their professional and private responsibilities through flexible working arrangements and financial support for families.

The contract is for a fixed term duration of three (3) years. No extension is foreseen. 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.

Duty Station

Paranal Observatory located 120 km south of the city of Antofagasta, Chile. The working schedule will be 8 days on duty and 6 days off duty (8x6) with accommodation provided on site, after a probation period with the appropriate shift scheme.

Career Path:



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 should include a motivation letter and CV in English. Interviews will be held in English.

Deadline for applications is 15 August 2022.

Interviews are expected to start soon after this date.

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.

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.

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