EO Future Missions Optical Payload and Performance Engineer

Updated: about 2 months ago

Vacancy in the Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes.

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 .

ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands  


Earth Observation (EO) Future Missions Optical Payload and Performance Engineer in the Optical Instruments Section, Future Missions and Instruments Division, Future Missions and Architecture Department, Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes.

Reporting to the Head of the Optical Instruments Section, you will be responsible for the end-to-end definition, engineering, technology breadboarding and pre-development of optical payload systems for future EO future missions, for both research missions (such as Earth Explorers, missions of opportunity and Scout missions) and operational missions (such as Copernicus and meteorology missions).

The above payloads include EO multispectral imagers, imaging spectrometers and Fourier-Transform spectrometers, as well as active laser payloads for Earth surface and atmosphere sensing, covering the full wavelength range from ultraviolet to far infrared. You will be engaged in the study and pre-development of one or several of them.


Your duties will include:

  • identifying and investigating new Earth observation principles, techniques and technologies in coordination with staff in your Department, the Science, Applications & Climate Department  and the Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality, including interfacing with research and technical groups, in particular with relevant Science Mission Advisory Groups;
  • maintaining knowledge of relevant technology status and instrument development programmes inside and outside ESA, including developments undertaken by other space agencies in Europe and worldwide, as well as commercial initiatives such as those under NewSpace, in close collaboration with the Division’s Technology Coordination and Frequency Management Section;
  • defining and assessing the performance and technological readiness of new EO optical payload systems in close collaboration with the staff of the Division’s Mission and System Studies Section, taking into account mission, system and programmatic objectives and requirements;
  • defining, negotiating, initiating and managing industrial contracts for the study and risk-retirement of new optical payload systems, according to the agreed activity plan;
  • defining, negotiating, initiating and managing risk-retirement activities through technology breadboarding and pre-development of optical payload systems for future EO missions (including Earth Explorer, Copernicus and meteorology) up to their completion, coordinating instrument pre-development activities with project teams when required;
  • defining, negotiating, initiating and managing the development of ground-based or airborne instrument models, according to the concepts’ maturity and performance-demonstration needs;
  • providing expert support to the Division for the optical payload aspects of missions undergoing evaluation or preparation, including for the evaluation of mission proposals, optical payload system support to Phase 0/A and mission architecture studies, and contributing to the preparation of technical and scientific dossiers on new EO research and operational missions;
  • supporting InCubed proposal evaluation and technical management of activities when related to EO optical payloads and technologies;
  • defining, developing, maintaining and upgrading optical payload system dimensioning and mission performance models and tools to assess new instrument concepts.

You will work closely with other staff from the Future Missions and Instruments Division and your Directorate and will also liaise with the Directorate of Technology, Engineering & Quality as well as with other directorates involved in optical engineering activities.

Technical competencies

Knowledge of technical domains and related R&D space industry trends

Knowledge of innovation-related processes

Experience in spaceborne optical instruments, including lidars

Experience in optical Earth observation mission and instrument performance modelling

Knowledge of optical remote sensing techniques and understanding of Earth observation user needs

Behavioural competencies

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


A master’s degree or PhD in engineering or physics is required for this post.

Additional requirements

At least five years of relevant experience in EO optical instrument preparation and/or development is required.

Experience in the development of mission and instrument performance analysis models/tools for EO optical instruments, including laser-based instruments, is required.

Experience of working in a team or project environment is required.

You should have good interpersonal skills and be able to work, coordinate and interact within small teams as well as autonomously.

You should be able to coordinate and iterate with Earth observation scientists and users for the definition of mission needs and requirements.

You will be expected to contribute to a dynamic and creative environment in preparatory phases of EO missions.

Other information

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

For further information please visit: Professionals ,What we offer  and FAQ    

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.     

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 [email protected] .


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. When short-listing for an interview, priority will first be given to internal candidates.

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.

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