Vacancy: Science Operations Scientist for the Solar Orbiter Mission

Science Operations Scientist
Job Requisition ID: 18169
Closing Date: 8 December 2023 23:59 CET/CEST
Publication: Internal & External
Vacancy Type: Permanent
Date Posted: 17 November 2023

You can apply here.

Vacancy in the Directorate of Science.

ESA is an equal opportunity employer, committed to achieving diversity within the workforce and creating an inclusive working environment. We therefore welcome applications from all qualified candidates irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, beliefs, age, disability or other characteristics. Applications from women are encouraged.

This post is classified A2-A4 on the Coordinated Organisations’ salary scale.

ESAC, Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain

The European Space Agency maintains a world-leading Science Programme with missions in heliophysics, planetary science, astrophysics and fundamental physics. Its mission is to ‘Empower Europe to lead space science’.

The Department for Science and Operations (SCI-S), within ESA’s Directorate of Science, hosts the scientists and engineers that oversee the space missions from study to end of operations, develops the science operation systems for the missions and operates the missions in space. It also archives and curates their data during operations and beyond. Our main objective is to maximise the scientific output of the missions for the benefit of humankind.

You will be assigned as Science Operations Scientist, initially for the Solar Orbiter mission under the direct responsibility of the Mission Manager in the Mission Operations Division within SCI-S.

You will be responsible for various aspects of the planning and execution of instrument and science operations as described below to ensure the Solar Orbiter mission meets its scientific objectives. You will work in close collaboration with the Solar Orbiter Instrument Teams, Archive Scientist, Project Scientist, Flight Control Team and the rest of the Science Operations Centre (SOC) team.

You will be expected to strive for innovation and excellence in your specific responsibilities, which will initially include:
* serving as the interface between the Principal Investigator teams and the Science Operations Centre, focusing on optimising the science return of the remote sensing instruments in the Solar Orbiter payload;
* supporting the Principal Investigator teams in the scheduling and execution of the onboard calibration of their instruments;
supporting the simulation and validation of instrument commanding, including the maintenance of SOC instrument models, in coordination with the Instrument Teams and Flight Control Team;
* assisting in the evolution of the SOC systems to ensure proper adaptation to new modes of operating the payload as required by the evolution of instrument flight software and the mission profile;
* working with the rest of the SOC to arrive at a conflict-free schedule for the science operations of the Solar Orbiter payload, striving towards optimal use of the available resources to maximise the science return;
* helping in the definition and validation of the instrument’s data products in coordination with the Archive Scientist;
* supporting the development and evolution of the instrument data analysis software.

Technical competencies:
Active researcher in a relevant field of space science
Experience in defining, setting up and/or operating space science projects
Experience in coordinating internal/external stakeholders on scientific projects

Behavioural competencies:
Result Orientation
Operational Efficiency
Fostering Cooperation
Relationship Management
Continuous Improvement
Forward Thinking

A PhD in solar physics or space physics is required for this post.

Additional requirements
Applicants must be eligible to access technology and hardware which is subject to European and US export control regulations.

One or more of the following would be additional assets for the position:

experience in science operations in the context of solar or heliospheric missions;
experience in analysing the science performance of solar or heliospheric missions;
experience with Agile Development Methodology, preferably in the role of Product Owner;
proficiency with at least one scripting or programming language (IDL, Python or MATLAB);
experience with media and outreach activities;
experience with contracts involving scientific institutions and instrument teams.
Other information

For behavioural competencies expected from ESA staff in general, please refer to the ESA Competency Framework.

The working languages of the Agency are English and French. A good knowledge of one of these is required. Knowledge of another Member State language would be an asset.

Applicants must be eligible to access technology and hardware which is subject to European and US export control regulations.

The Agency may require applicants to undergo selection tests.

At the Agency we value diversity and we welcome people with disabilities. Whenever possible, we seek to accommodate individuals with disabilities by providing the necessary support at the workplace. The Human Resources Department can also provide assistance during the recruitment process. If you would like to discuss this further please contact us email

Please note that applications are only considered from nationals of one of the following States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

According to the ESA Convention, the recruitment of staff must take into account an adequate distribution of posts among nationals of the ESA Member States*. When short-listing for an interview, priority will first be given to internal candidates and secondly to external candidates from under-represented Member States*.

In accordance with the European Space Agency’s security procedures and as part of the selection process, successful candidates will be required to undergo basic screening before appointment conducted by an external background screening service.

In principle, recruitment will be within the advertised grade band (A2-A4). However, if the selected candidate has less than four years of relevant professional experience following the completion of the master’s degree, the position may be filled at A1 level.

*Member States, Associate Members or Cooperating States.