Internal Research Fellow in Earth Science for Polar, Ocean and Carbon

Updated: 11 days ago

Internal Research Fellowship Opportunity 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. 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 .

ESRIN, Frascati, Italy

Our team and mission

As the holder of this two-year post, you will report to the Head of the Science Section in the Green Solutions Division within the Climate Action, Sustainability and Science Department of the Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes. When performing your tasks, you will work in close cooperation with other staff in the Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes.

The Science Section is a dynamic R&D team leading Earth observation (EO) research and Earth system and climate science activities, in partnership with European and international scientific groups. Visit our website for an overview of our activities:

You will be part of the Earth System Science Hub, a new science facility in ESA and a centre for networking and scientific collaboration among world-class researchers in ESA Member States and worldwide. The Hub will bring together young and senior scientists from different disciplines in EO and Earth system science to help develop the next generation of EO products and jointly address some of the major science challenges of this decade.

The Hub relies on the latest advances in terms of open data science, cloud computing and HPC capabilities, offering collaborative advanced development environments for science and research.

The Hub will also contribute to the development of a solid scientific basis for the implementation and evolution of “Digital Twin Earth” (an advanced high-resolution replica of our planet, its processes and its interactions with human activities and ecosystems).

You are encouraged to visit the ESA website:

Field(s) of activity/research for the traineeship

You will be responsible for various activities, including the following:

1.    Undertaking advanced research addressing major observational gaps and scientific priorities in EO and Earth system and climate science. Your research will cover a wide range of innovative topics from the development and validation of novel methods, algorithms and EO products to innovative Earth system and climate research.
2.    Contributing to advance our understanding of the Earth and Climate system based on advanced EO data, models and AI, and its links with human activities and ecosystems. establishing a solid scientific basis for the implementation and evolution of Digital Twin Earth, by undertaking collaborative research across domains in collaboration with ESA experts and international scientists and science teams..
3.    Supporting the definition, technical supervision and coordination of scientific exploitation projects carried out by external teams of experts and scientists, in all areas of EO research and Earth system science.

4.    Maintaining a continuous dialogue with the scientific communities, including major international programmes and initiatives and partner space agencies (e.g., NASA) preparation of the scientific agenda driving future ESA activities and plans.

You will be involved in the scientific activities of the Science Section within one of the following thematic priorities :

  • Terrestrial carbon cycle: enhancing our capacity to observe, quantify and understand the terrestrial carbon cycle, its sensitivity to climate change and its interactions with human activities and land use (e.g., agriculture, forestry, energy, water consumption). Activities shall particularly focus on synergistic use of novel capabilities (e.g., Copernicus Sentinels, FLEX, BIOMASS, novel national and international missions). The candidate will also contribute to the coordination and implementation of ESA carbon science cluster:
  • Ocean science: with focus on exploiting the latest advances in EO satellite technology for enhancing our observation capacity and fundamental scientific understanding of the ocean’s role in the Earth and climate system. Priorities include e.g., ocean carbon cycle, ocean extremes, coastal processes, Polar oceans, ocean health and marine biology and ecosystems. The candidate will also contribute to the coordination and implementation of the activities of the ESA Ocean science cluster:
  • Polar science and cryosphere research: with focus on advancing our EO-based capacity to observe, understand and predict the onset and amplitude of changes in Polar regions, its associated processes and potential impacts: ice sheets, glaciers and ice caps dynamics, ice shelves-ocean-atmosphere interactions, snow processes and surface mass balance, permafrost, sea-ice and polar ocean studies. The candidate will also contribute to the coordination and implementation of the activities of the ESA Polar science cluster:

Please indicate your preferred theme in your proposal.

Technical competencies

Knowledge relevant to the field of research

Research/publication record

Ability to conduct research autonomously

Breadth of exposure coming from past and/or current research/activities

Ability to gather and share relevant information

General interest in space and space research

Behavioural competencies

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


You should have recently completed, or be close to completing, a PhD in physics, engineering or Earth system science, with research experience and peer-reviewed publications in relevant topics for the fields of research proposed.

Preference will be given to applications submitted by candidates having received their PhD within the past five years.

Additional requirements

You should also have:

  • proven research experience based on the use of relevant satellite measurements
  • science software development experience and programming skills
  • good analytical and communication skills and the ability to work in a multicultural environment in an autonomous manner.
  • Additional experience in modelling would be an asset.

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.

Other information

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 [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, 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.

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