Advert. no. 2023_0053
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 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 Maintenance, Support, and Engineering Department, within the Directorate of Operations, at the La Silla Paranal Observatory, near Antofagasta, Chile; ESO is advertising an International Staff member position of

Photonics Engineer


Vacancy closed on 30/11/2023

Deadline 30/11/2023

The Optics Group is formed by 12 engineers and technicians and is responsible for the main optical systems like telescope mirror alignment and recoating at the La Silla Paranal Observatory. The group is responsible for 'Maintenance in Conditions of Operations' (MCO) of all Telescopes optics (including Adaptive Optics systems, VLTI delay lines, etc.), and for MCO of various labs and coating facilities. For further information about working at ESO, see the podcast 'Engineers at ESO' at:

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

The selected candidate will have the following main duties:

As Photonics Engineer:

  • Have the technical responsibility of one or more systems related to the VLT Interferometer (delay lines, relay optics, etc.)
  • Be responsible of all maintenance activities (corrective and planned) and obsolescence analysis of those systems.
  • Ensure the availability of the systems according to specification.
  • Propose and implement change requests (analysis, design, implementation, commissioning, documentation)
  • Interact with different stakeholders like managers and engineers at ESO headquarters, the Support and Quality Assurance group (planning, spare parts, maintenance plan optimization, documentation, and quality control), Science operations,

Support activities:

  • Responsible of the maintenance and calibration of the tools used for the optoelectronics activities.
  • Execute performance analysis when needed.
  • Integrated Operations Program (IOP) to include the ELT into operations.
  • 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 Optics Group Leader.


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

  • Strong experience in trouble shooting photonic and opto-electronic systems.
  • Managing a preventive and corrective maintenance plan.
  • Assembly, integration, and verification of photonic and/or opto-electronic systems like, but not limited, to laser metrology, interferometers, active optics.
  • Manufacturing and adjusting photonic and/or opto-electronic systems like, but not limited, to laser metrology, laser telemetry, interferometers, spectrometers, active optics, piezo actuators.

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

  • Design and analysis of photonic systems using lasers, optical fibers (multimode and single mode)
  • Optical and optomechanical alignment and verification
  • Use of metrology equipment in the field of optics (interferometers, lasers, sensors, laser trackers, spectrometers).
  • Adaptive and active optics and wave front sensors.
  • Experience in developing photonic systems using for micro displacement (hexapods, mirror mount actuated by piezo-electric actuators).

Key Competences:

The candidate has several of the following competences (technical and soft):

  • Ability to understand the 'big picture' and the details of complex opto-electronical systems, their interfaces, and their performance.
  • Ability to troubleshoot and solve problems under difficult working conditions and with tight deadlines.
  • Real interest to apply and learn operational, maintenance and trouble-shooting strategies and techniques derived from the industry, for example Lean, 5S, MCO.
  • Analytical skills to evaluate performance or troubleshoot issues using metrology from various sensors.
  • Ability to execute delicate procedures, 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 photonics, opto-electronic, physics, optical engineering or astronomy. Specialization in the field of opto-electronic instrumentation and/or system engineering, or equivalent, is desirable.

Language Skills:

ESO is an international organization where the official language is English. The position requires proficiency in oral and written communication in English. Spoken Spanish is highly desirable for communication in the day-to day business.

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 offer is for a fixed term duration of three years and is subject to medical clearance and successful completion of the probation period. There may be a possibility of extension(s) to the contact subject to individual performance and organisational requirements 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 our contract policy and in particular the regulations concerning fixed-term and indefinite contracts are 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 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 30 November 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.

Contact us