Advert. no. 2023_0042
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. 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.


For its Systems Engineering Department, within the Directorate of Engineering at the Headquarters in Garching near Munich, Germany, ESO is advertising the position of an

Instrumentation Engineer / Physicist


Vacancy closed on 21/10/2023

Deadline 21/10/2023

The Systems Engineering Department is responsible for providing Systems Engineering expertise for the development of the future Extremely Large Telescope and its sub-systems. The Department is also responsible for the design and development of advanced optical and infrared instrumentation for the telescopes of ESO's La Silla-Paranal Observatory and for the ELT. 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/physicist, with a group-leader role. You 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. With an allocation of 30% of your time, you will also lead the Instrument Systems Group (SINSY), a group of 10 instrument engineers and physicists. You are interested not only in new technical and managerial challenges, but also in developing your interpersonal skills within an international environment.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

You will have the following main duties:

As Instrumentation Engineer:

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

As Group-Head:

  • Manage the personnel of the group (recruitment, training, feedback, etc.).
  • Prepare and monitor resource request and allocation for the different activities.
  • Foster and contribute to the further development of Systems Engineering at ESO.
  • Contribute to the harmonization of the development approach for different instruments and programmes.

Reports to:

The Head of the Systems Engineering Department


You have at least 5 years of experience in

  • Development and / or upgrade of Optical / Infrared or Interferometric Instruments.
  • Working in multi-disciplinary and multi-national teams or
  • Working with consortia of scientific institutes.

You have at least 2 years of experience in

  • Leading and / or coordination of a team, for example as lead engineer.

Key Competences:

  • Generate energy, enthusiasm and commitment to ESO's mission and goals within a pleasant and collaborative climate in the group.
  • Excel at building strong and effective links with other teams from different cultural backgrounds and disciplines, inside and outside of the organization, and be prepared to reach consensus without losing sight of the main goal of the project.
  • Ability to organise your team's activities and ensure a motivating work environment.
  • Constructively address disagreement and manage conflicts.
  • Demonstrate initiative, pro-activeness, flexibility and good negotiation skills.
  • Apply strategical thinking, taking into account the long-term perspective and anticipating future trends.


A university degree in engineering or physics, engineering or astronomy. Specialisation in the field of astronomical instrumentation and / or long-baseline interferometry and / or system engineering, or equivalent.

Language Skills:

ESO is an international organization where the official language is English. The position requires excellent oral and written communication skills in English.

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 support to place your child/children in daycare.

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.

Our Salary Structure

ESO's salary structure is based upon a range of career paths which reflect the nature and level of our jobs. Each career path is made up of two or three grades which are used to further reflect experience.

Please follow this attached link for more details

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.

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 21st October 2023.

Interviews are expected to start soon after this date.

ESO Values

An important element in any successful employment relationship is harmony in values between an organisation and its people.

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 from employment at ESO, however, recruitment preference will be given to nationals of our Member States, host states and strategic partners: 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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