Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship in Advanced EO for Earth Science

Updated: about 2 months 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 Data Applications Division within the Science, Applications and Climate Department of the Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes. In the execution of 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 science activities, in partnership with European and international scientific groups. Visit our website for an overview of what we do:

You will be part of the Earth System Science Hub, a new science facility at 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 a range of disciplines in EO and Earth system science to help develop the next generation of EO products and jointly address some of the major scientific challenges of this decade. 

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

The Hub will also help develop 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

The candidate will be responsible for a variety of activities including:

  • Undertaking advanced research addressing major observational gaps and scientific priorities in EO and Earth system science. The 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.
  • Helping 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 a range of domains in conjunction with ESA experts as well as international scientists and science teams.
  • 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.
  • Maintaining a continuous dialogue with the scientific communities, including major international programmes and initiatives and partner space agencies (such as NASA).
  • Preparing the scientific agenda driving future ESA activities and plans.
  • The candidate will be involved in the scientific activities of the Science Section,

    within one of the following thematic priorities:
    • Advanced SAR methods and techniques: advancing the development of novel retrieval techniques and algorithms for SAR based on multi-frequency and multi-polarimetric observations, with a particular focus on the new potential offered by new missions such as BIOMASS, NISAR and the upcoming ROSE-L.
    • Hydrology and water cycle research: advancing the use of EO for hydrology and water cycle research from global to basin scales with a particular focus on exploring and exploiting the novel capacity offered by existing and upcoming Sentinel missions. The priorities include novel high resolution products (precipitation, evaporation, soil moisture, etc.), water discharge, groundwater storage, high-resolution hydrological modelling, global water cycle analysis, hydro-climatic extremes and human impacts on the water cycle.
    • 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 (for example agriculture, forestry, energy and water consumption). The activities will focus in particular on the synergistic use of novel capabilities (such as Copernicus Sentinels, FLEX, BIOMASS, and novel national and international missions). You will also contribute to the coordination and implementation of the ESA carbon science cluster:
    • Biodiversity: advancing the development of a new generation of biodiversity observation products with a particular focus on the natural and anthropogenic pressures on terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems (including climate change), the integrity and resilience of vulnerable ecosystems, and the ecological processes of ecosystem degradation and restoration. You will also contribute to the coordination and implementation of the new ESA biodiversity science cluster:
    • Ocean science: with a 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. The priorities include the ocean carbon cycle, ocean extremes, coastal processes, polar oceans, ocean health, and marine biology and ecosystems. You will also contribute to the coordination and implementation of the activities of the ESA ocean science cluster:
    • Polar science and cryosphere research: with a focus on advancing our EO-based capacity to observe, understand and predict the onset and amplitude of changes in polar regions, the associated processes and the potential impacts: ice sheet, glacier and ice cap dynamics, ice shelves-ocean-atmosphere interactions, snow processes and SMB , active lakes and sub-subface processes, permafrost, sea-ice and polar ocean studies. You will also contribute to the coordination and implementation of the activities of the ESA polar science cluster:
    • Atmosphere research: advancing EO-based atmospheric observations from existing and heritage missions (such as Sentinel-5p, Aeolus, GOME, GOME-2, SCIAMACHY, GOMOS and MIPAS) and their use in atmospheric research and Earth system science. Special attention will be paid to new missions such as EarthCARE. Priorities include CO2, CH4 and other GHGs, aerosols and cloud interactions, high resolution air quality and preparation of future missions, including CO2M, Sentinel-4, Sentinel-5, Altius and FORUM. You will also contribute to the coordination and implementation of the activities of the ESA atmosphere 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 must have completed a PhD (or equivalent) in physics, engineering or Earth system science with research experience and peer-reviewed publications in relevant topics for the fields of research proposed.

    Additional requirements

    You should also have proven research experience based on the use of relevant satellite measurements. 

    Science software development experience and programming skills are also required.
    Additional experience in modelling would be an asset.

    You should have good analytical and communication skills and be able to work in a multicultural environment in an autonomous manner. 

    You must be fluent in English and/or French, the working languages of the Agency. Proficiency in English is required.

    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 .


    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.

    View or Apply

    Similar Positions