EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY
Internal Research Fellow (PostDoc) in Quantum Remote Sensing
Job Requisition ID: 18222
Closing Date: 3 January 2024 23:59 CET/CEST
Establishment: ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands
Directorate: Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality
Publication: External Only
Vacancy Type: Internal Research Fellow
Date Posted: 6 December 2023
Internal Research Fellowship Opportunity in the Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality.
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 women are encouraged.
This post is classified F2 on the Coordinated Organisations’ salary scale.
ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands
Our team and mission
This research fellowship will be undertaken in both the ESA Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality (D/TEC) and the Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes (D/EOP). In this way, as a Research Fellow you will benefit from the blue-sky, theoretical focus of the Advanced Concepts Team within D/TEC at ESTEC during your first year, transferring in your second year to the D/EOP Future Missions Division (EOP-FM) to enable the practical application of your research.
The Advanced Concepts Team (ACT) is a team of postdoctoral research fellows and young graduates from a broad variety of academic fields. Its task is to monitor, perform and foster research on advanced space systems, innovative concepts and working methods. It interacts externally almost exclusively with academia and operates as a truly interdisciplinary team bound by high scientific standards. Through its research, the team acts as a cross-departmental pathfinder to explore novel, potentially promising areas for ESA and the space sector, ranging from applied to basic fundamental research topics.
The Future Missions Division thrives on advanced system architecture design, robust mission performance analysis and ground-breaking technology developments, vital for ESA’s pioneering Earth observation missions. Here, you will leverage your insights from your first-year experience, applying theoretical concepts to specific applications, contributing significantly to mission advancements and gaining hands-on experience in an innovative environment.
You are strongly encouraged to familiarise yourself with the research done by the ACT, in particular in the field of quantum technologies, as well as the work performed in FutureEO.
You are encouraged to visit the ESA website: https://www.esa.int/
Field(s) of activity/research for the traineeship
You will carry out research in the field of quantum sensing with a particular emphasis on developing new methods applicable to Earth observation. Your areas of research will be chosen both on the basis of your own expert judgement and insight into trends and developments and on the basis of team requirements so as to ensure alignment with the strategic directions of the Agency.
Scientifically, you will in particular:
- propose and conduct rigorous research in the field of quantum sensing and formulate novel techniques and applications for Earth observation systems. This research will be performed, where appropriate, in collaboration with universities in ESA Member States;
- analyse various quantum platforms, such as nitrogen-vacancy centres in diamond, Rydberg and/or cold atoms, entangled photons and opto-mechanical systems, and their potential uses in observational instruments and propose new quantum sensor architectures;
- study quantum limits to measurement precision and investigate how quantum entanglement and squeezing can be technically implemented to enhance the precision of observational instruments;
- contribute to or begin the open-source development of a quantum sensor model library for future use in system studies.
As an ACT researcher, you will:
- publish results in peer-reviewed publications and use modern communication tools to communicate with the broader audience within and external to ESA;
- lead and assist in interdisciplinary projects with other ACT researchers;
- participate, together with the team, in the assessment of proposed space system concepts – not restricted to quantum sensing – and propose new concepts and assessment studies;
- perform and participate in assessments on topics of strategic interest of ESA, providing in-house expertise towards strategy development;
- benefit, in your research, from the technology and engineering expertise available at ESTEC.
In your second year, as a member of EOP-FM, you will:
- transfer the findings and project results from the research performed in your first year into a more applicative environment in close coordination with EOP-FM and in accordance with its resources and strategic directions;
- interact with the Earth observation teams to understand their requirements, applying the developed quantum sensing techniques to address specific challenges. This may include improving the resolution of magnetometers, accelerometers, microwave radiometers, imaging sensors or other instruments for enhanced Earth observation applications;
- derive instrument requirements for promising mission architectures;
- benchmark quantum-enhanced missions with missions carrying traditional instruments;
- support the evaluation of quantum sensing-related proposals.
Knowledge relevant to the field of research
Research track record
Ability to conduct research autonomously
Breadth of exposure obtained from past and/or current research
General interest in space and space research
Ability to gather and share relevant information
You must have:
- a degree in physics or engineering;
- a PhD, completed before taking up duty, in quantum technology, quantum physics or space instrumentation, with a thesis topic relevant to the tasks outlined above;
- experience in scientific modelling;
- proficiency in a programming language.
Experience in space mission design, Earth observation and system engineering is considered a strong asset.
You should be aiming toward a career in academia or research.
- Aptitude for and interest in prospective interdisciplinary research;
- Ability to contextualise specialised areas of research and quickly assess their potential with respect to other domains and applications;
- Academic networking skills to create functioning links with universities and research institutes;
- Ability to work in a team as well as independently in accordance with your own research plans and directions;
- Natural curiosity and a passion for new subjects and research areas.
The position of Research Fellow (RF) at ESA is similar to a regular academic postdoctoral placement, but with a number of notable differences:
- RFs have no teaching obligations. However, you will likely be involved in the mentoring of Young Graduate Trainees and student interns within the teams.
- As there are no professor or similar roles within the teams, RFs are academically more independent than most postdoctoral researchers. This implies greater freedom, but also greater responsibility for research directions and approaches.
- ACT RFs join a diverse, evolving and interdisciplinary research team embedded in a large space agency, in contrast to a more specialised, focused research group with similar competences.
- RFs are required to actively reach out to other disciplines in order to bring their competences to bear in interdisciplinary research projects and to encourage other researchers to join them in their core, cross-disciplinary research projects.
- RFs need to communicate their expertise and research results, including their potential implications and importance for ESA’s long-term strategy, both internally and externally.
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.
For behavioural competencies expected from ESA staff in general, please refer to the ESA Competency Framework.
For further information on the Internal Research Fellowship Programme please visit: Internal Research Fellowship
The Agency may require applicants to undergo selection tests.
In addition to your CV and your motivation letter, please add your proposal of no more than 5 pages outlining your proposed research in the "additional documents" field of the "application information" section.
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 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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, 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*. When short-listing for an interview, priority will first be given to 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.
- Member States, Associate Members or Cooperating States.
How to apply
European Space Agency
2201 AZ Noordwijk, Niederlande
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