Advert. no. 2022_0041
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..


Engineering PhD


Vacancy closed on 15/02/2023

Deadline 15/02/2023

The European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere has as its primary mission to build and operate state-of-the-art facilities for the advancement of astronomical research. A strong Research & Development (R&D) programme is therefore at the core of ESO's activities.

What are we looking for?

Dynamic young individuals ready to take an active part in the ESO R&D projects with a good deal of team spirit, curiosity and eagerness to learn.

What are we offering?

  • An engineering PhD Studentship of 1 to 3 years;
  • An international, multi-disciplinary environment, situated on the Garching science campus close to Munich, Germany, next to the best German universities, world-renowned research centres and 2 recent Nobel prizes;
  • Working in collaboration with ESO's partner institutes and high-tech industries in the ESO member states;
  • Three observatories at the forefront of ground-based astronomy and of technology: La Silla, Paranal and ALMA. And one of the most challenging telescopes under construction: the Extremely Large Telescope;
  • An attractive remuneration package and support for relocating families.

Current ESO active R&D projects:

  • Advanced visible and infrared detectors for astronomical instrumentation (modelling, testing, development of CMOS fast detectors, curved detectors...);
  • Gigahertz receivers, cryogenic first-stage amplifiers for ALMA (development & testing);
  • Adaptive optics and related components including laser guide stars, deformable mirrors, wavefront sensing, tomographic techniques, interactions with segmented mirrors...;
  • System simulation and modelling including deformable mirrors, telescope seeing effects, exposure time calculators, instruments, model-based system engineering;
  • Optical metrology and photonics for (sub-)micrometric large structure characterisation, interferometry;
  • Mechanics and cryogenics;
  • Real-time computing.

For more details and a list of PhD subjects see the following


If you are interested in enhancing your early career through an ESO Studentship, then please apply via our recruitment portal

Include the following documents in your application:

  • A motivation letter including why you wish to join one of the proposed subject projects (maximum one page);
  • A curriculum vitae with a list of publications, if any, your technical/practical experience and the names and contact details of three persons familiar with your research and/or engineering work and willing to provide a recommendation letter;
  • An outline of how you plan to develop the PhD project (maximum of two pages), with a timeline, the requested starting date and duration attached to your CV;
  • A letter from the formal supervisor at your home institute agreeing with the project plan, guaranteeing financial support (salary, health insurance, travel money) for the part of the PhD done at the home institute (if the studentship is requested for less than 3 years) and/or indicating that you (will soon) fulfil the pre-requisites for a PhD programme in that institute.

The closing date for applications is January 31, 2023.

The PhD studentship is expected to begin any time in 2023.

For any additional questions please contact: Francoise Delplancke-Ströbele, email:

The ESO Values are:

ESO strives for excellence through innovation.

ESO provides outstanding services to its communities.

ESO fosters diversity & inclusion.

ESO believes in the key role of sustainability for its future.

Achieving the above are recognized as only possible on the basis of personal values and attitudes that we expect from our employees: respect, integrity, accountability, commitment, collaboration, and clear & open communication.

Applicants to any ESO role are asked to reflect on their affinity with these values and advised they may be asked about them if called for interview.


ESO has established diversity as an important value of the Organisation, is committed to providing an equal opportunities environment and is actively seeking to promote a diverse, equitable 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, the United Kingdom and Chile irrespective of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity or religion.

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