Intern in the Data Science and Archive Division

Updated: 3 months ago

Internship Opportunity 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.


Our team and mission

This position is based at the European Space Astronomy Centre  (ESAC) - Near Madrid, Spain

Under the direct authority of the Director of Science, the Science and Operations Department is responsible for ensuring that maximum scientific return, within applicable constraints, is maintained as an objective for the Directorate’s missions through their lifetime, by providing scientific oversight of the Directorate’s missions throughout their lifecycle, managing and being responsible for the operation of the Directorate’s missions once successfully commissioned, and curating the scientific data in their legacy phase, while establishing and maintaining the necessary science interfaces to the community. These responsibilities are discharged in full coordination with the Directorate’s Departments and Offices and, as appropriate, with the Directorate of Operations.

In implementing its duties, the Science and Operations Department is supported by the:

  • Science Division
  • Mission Operations Division
  • Science Operations Development Division
  • Data Science and Archive Division
  • Mission Support Office

For further information visit our web site:

Field(s) of activity for the internship

You can choose between the following topics:

1) Topic 1: Periodicity in billions of Gaia astrometric timeseries

Gaia's fourth data release (GDR4) will contain series of highly-accurate positional measurements for more than 2 billion astronomical sources. These astrometric timeseries carry a wealth of information of astrophysical and technical nature, but only a small fraction are searched for periodic patterns beyond parallax by the Gaia data processing pipelines. The goal of this project is to enable the source-specific discovery of periodic astrometric signals across the entire GDR4 dataset, which will make it possible to discover and study phenomena related to binary stars, black holes, exoplanets, instrumental effects, survey artefacts, and much more.

As an intern, you will develop a robust and scalable approach for computing periodograms of large amounts of astrometric timeseries in the Gaia archive, using the computational and scientific resources available at ESAC. Depending on your interest and expertise, it will be possible to shift the project's focus between the possible astrophysical exploitation (e.g. initial classification) of the results, performance and interface improvements, and data visualisation. In accordance with Gaia consortium policies, no publication based on the analysed Gaia data will be allowed before GDR4.

For more information on this topic, please visit: Periodicity in billions of Gaia astrometric timeseries


2) Topic 2: Exploring the early Universe and finding the first galaxies with the James Webb Space Telescope

Understanding the formation of the first sources that reionised the early Universe is one of the major goals of contemporary astronomy. The last decade since the installation of the Wide Field Camera 3  on the Hubble Space Telescope has seen the frontier of galaxy evolution studies pushed well into the epoch of reionisation, with galaxies being discovered out to z= 11. With the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) on Christmas day in 2021, we have entered another period of revolution in this field with a wealth of distant galaxy candidates been reported from the Early Release Observations, the Early Release Science programs and the Guaranteed Time Observations.

To this end, this project will focus on finding and studying the ultra-high redshift galaxies in the first billion years after the Big Bang using the public imaging data stored in the the European JWST Science Archive (eJWST) at the ESAC Science Data Centre (ESDC) in Madrid, Spain. This would involve learning and applying photometry techniques to construct multiwavelength photometry catalogs, as well as deriving galaxy properties such as photometric redshifts, luminosities, stellar masses and star-formation rates. The study will also potentially provide targets for spectroscopic observations with JWST and it is therefore an excellent opportunity to get involved with JWST work and planning JWST observations. The results of the project could also potentially lay the foundation of a paper.

For more information on this topic, please visit:  Exploring the early Universe and finding the first galaxies with the James Webb Space Telescope


3) Topic 3: How to hunt for an asteroid - with JWST

While the main scientific objectives of missions such as the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), Euclid or the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) do not primarily focus on capturing images of solar system objects (SSOs), these objects often appear incidentally in the foreground of other observations. In previous research (Racero et al. 2022), we have introduced techniques to cross-reference the orbits of existing asteroids in the Minor Planet Center database, the most extensive database of SSOs, with archival observations from some ESA science missions. Additionally, we have developed AI and crowdsourcing-based methods to identify over one thousand asteroids appearing serendipitously in HST images (Kruk et al. 2022), while in JWST archival images we have visually identified the smallest asteroid in the Main Belt (Mueller et al. 2023). As the data volume archived at the ESAC Science Data Center from these observatories continues to expand, there is a growing demand for innovative tools capable of systematically searching these archives for asteroids. The objective of this internship is to adapt existing techniques and develop new ones to detect serendiptous Solar System Objects appearing in public archival JWST images using the ESA Datalabs platform.

For more information on this topic, please visit: How to hunt for an asteroid - with JWST

Behavioural competencies

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


You must have student status and be enrolled at university for the entire duration of the internship. You should preferably be in your final or second to last year of a university course at master’s level in a technical or scientific discipline.

Additional requirements

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.

Additional Requirements:

1) Topic 1:

  • Programming experience with a scripting language, e.g. python, is essential
  • Experience in computer science is beneficial
  • Experience in data science is beneficial
  • Experience with model fitting and signal processing is beneficial

2) Topic 2:

  • Astrophysics background and understanding of statistics
  • Some experience with coding languages (like Python, Matlab, IDL etc) is essential
  • Some experience with Unix is beneficial
  • Knowledge of image analysis software like SExtractor, IRAF and photometric redshift fitting codes such as EAZY, would be an asset

3) Topic 3: 

  • Programming experience in Python
  • Interest and experience in data mining is a plus

Other information

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

If you require support with your application due to a disability, please 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, 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).

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