Research Fellowships - Space Science Faculty
Research Fellowships in Space Science
Join us at the forefront of unveiling the mysteries of our Solar System and the Universe!
ESA's postdoctoral Research Fellowship programme offers early-career scientists and engineers the possibility to carry out research in a variety of disciplines related to space science, space applications or space technology.
Research Fellowships in Space Science specifically offer the opportunity to contribute to ESA's endeavour to explore our Solar System and the Universe in the fields of heliophysics, planetary science, astrophysics and fundamental physics. ESA Fellowships provide a unique opportunity to work with scientists and engineers at the forefront of space science, and experience first-hand how ESA works with communities across the Member States to maximise the scientific return from our missions.
In the sections below you can find detailed information about the fellowship programme and the application process.
ESA's postdoctoral Research Fellowship programme offers early-career scientists and engineers the possibility to carry out independent research in a variety of disciplines related to space science, space applications or space technology. ESA Fellowships provide a unique opportunity to work with scientists and engineers at the forefront of space science, and experience first-hand how ESA works with communities across the Member States to maximise the scientific return from our missions.
Research Fellowships in Space Science specifically offer the opportunity to contribute to ESA's endeavour to explore our Solar System and the Universe in the fields of heliophysics, planetary science, astrophysics and fundamental physics.
Approximately 13 ESA Fellowships will be offered this year in Space Science, joining the pool of about 25 Research Fellows.
Duration: Appointments are for a maximum of three years. The initial project is for two years. An extension for a third year requires a dedicated proposal and is very frequently granted.
Research Fellowships in Space Science (SCI) can be taken at any of three locations:
- European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) in Villafranca del Castillo near Madrid, Spain
- European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands
- The ESA office at Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, USA
The European Space Agency maintains a world-leading Science Programme with missions in heliophysics, planetary science, astrophysics and fundamental physics. The Department for Science and Operations (SCI-S), within ESA's Directorate for Science, hosts the scientists and engineers that oversee the space missions from study to end of operations; it develops the science operation systems for the missions and conducts their science operations in flight; it archives and curates their data during operations and beyond. The main objective of the department is to maximise the scientific return of the missions for the benefit of humankind. The Science and Operations Department also supports research activities, which are coordinated by the ESA Science Faculty. Research Fellows are encouraged to take leading roles in Faculty research programmes and initiatives, in close collaboration with scientific staff. The Research Fellowship programme nurtures and strengthens the links between ESA and the scientific communities in the Member States.
Research Fellows in Space Science spend their time on their independent scientific research and can choose to spend up to 20% of the time on scientific activities in support of ESA science-related activities (e.g., archive/data science, citizen science, operations, calibration, communication). Research Fellows have no teaching obligations, but do have various opportunities to supervise undergraduate or masters-level student trainees.
Within the Science Directorate, we are welcoming all independent proposals for innovative research associated with one or more of our missions. The Space Science fellowships can be taken at any of the three sites ESAC, ESTEC or STScI and we encourage applicants to choose a site that allows for best local collaborations. To learn more about the research conducted by the ESA scientists at different sites, please visit the Faculty Member Directory and the pages for the Faculty research groups. There is a separate page for research at the ESA Office at STScI (see also the research of non-ESA scientists at STScI).
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, and the United Kingdom. Nationals from Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia, as Associate Member States, or Canada as a Cooperating State, can apply as well as those from Bulgaria, Croatia, and Cyprus as European Cooperating States (ECS).
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.
Applicants should have recently completed, or be close to completing their PhD in a technical or scientific discipline. Preference will be given to applications submitted by candidates with up to five years of experience after their PhD.
ESA is an equal opportunity employer, committed to achieving diversity within the workforce and creating an inclusive working environment. For this purpose, we welcome applications from all qualified candidates irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, beliefs, age, disability or other characteristics. Applications from female scientists are encouraged.
There is a single opening for all 13 positions. There are no pre-defined projects, applicants are invited to prepare an independent research proposal of a project based on their interests and expertise. To apply, please visit the application interface operated by Human Resources: https://jobs.esa.int/job/Villanueva-de-la-Cañada-Internal-Research-Fellow-%28PostDoc%29-in-the-Directorate-of-Science-at-ESTEC%2C-ESAC-or-STScl/975347301/
All ESA vacancy notices can be seen under: https://career2.successfactors.eu/career?company=esa.
Required application Materials:
Four separate documents will need to be uploaded:
- A motivation letter;
- Your CV
- A list of publications. This needs to be separate from the CV. For publications that are not first-authored, please indicate the individual contribution.
- A research proposal (4 pages maximum including any figures or tables, minimum font size 11pt). It is expected to include sections outlining (1) the research rationale, (2) impact and past achievements, (3) research plans for the fellowship (with rough time line), (4) synergies with mission-related activities and scientists at ESA.
Further information useful to be prepared for the online application form are the contact information of three persons willing to provide references and a prioritised list of one or more establishments that you would like to join (ESAC, ESTEC, or STScI). Note that at the time of application, reference letters are not required, only the contact information of three persons.
The review committee will consist of members with diverse areas of expertise. Therefore the application should be written for a general audience of space scientists and astrophysicists. The application will be evaluated with respect to scientific excellence of the candidate (past achievements), proposed research at ESA (feasibility, future impact), and synergies with existing ESA research activities at the selected site. See also Further Questions, Tips and Hints
Inquiries regarding the application process can be sent at any time to the fellowship coordinator.
Long-listed candidates will be contacted early November for a recorded video interview and they will be invited to a science jamboree for an exchange with the Faculty scientists and the current fellows. The jamboree will take place on 20-22 November 2023.
Short-listed candidates will be invited mid-December to a short online interview taking place on 15-16 January 2024.
Offers are expected to be made by the end of January 2024.
Start of the fellowship: autumn 2024 (special arrangements for an earlier or later start can be made).
Research expenses: publication charges, attendance of conferences, participation in observing campaigns and/or research visits, etc. for the ESA Research Fellows are covered by their department's budgets.
Science Visitor Programme: Science Research Fellows have access to the Science Visitor Programme, funded by the ESA Faculty, allowing invitation of external collaborators to the ESA sites.
Student/trainee supervision: Research Fellows have various opportunities to request funding for and/or supervise undergraduate or masters-level student trainees, for example through ESA traineeship programmes or Leiden/ESA Astrophysics Program for Summer Students.
Additional research funding: as faculty members, Research Fellows are eligible to request funding through the faculty for activities requiring substantial additional funding (e.g. for hardware, organisation of conferences and workshops, etc.).
Mentorship Programme: as independent early-career researchers, Research Fellows are more in need of guidance than supervision. New fellows are thus invited to select a main mentor who will guide and support with general issues, including those not necessarily related to the direct research field. Mentors are especially meant to support fellows with their future orientation and job search. Any member of ESA science faculty can take over the role of the mentor, including ESA permanent staff and scientists with the contracting companies located within the Science and Operations department. Candidates are welcome and encouraged to contact any scientist of the Department as a prospective mentor prior to their application.
For terms and conditions we refer to the General Description.
Typical net monthly remuneration varies between circa 3500 and 4800 Euros depending on the local purchasing power at duty station (ESAC or ESTEC) and years of experience after the PhD. The net monthly remuneration is around $5000 for the fellows at STScI. Additional allowances are provided for family members (registered partners and children), subject to conditions.
Health coverage under ESA’s social security scheme includes medical expenses, invalidity and death benefits. However, pension benefits are not covered by ESA and need to be arranged separately.
Research Fellows working at STScI (Baltimore, USA) will be issued a G4 visa.
For further inquiries, feel free to contact the Head of the Science Research Fellowship Programme.
The Space Science Faculty Directory lists all the members and their interests.
To contact any person by email, please use the address given on their profile page, or use:
Current Space Science Research Fellows will be happy to share any experience with you.