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Internal Research Fellow (PostDoc) in Water Ice Contamination in Spacecraft

European Space Agency


Posted 4 weeks ago


Join ESA's mission to pioneer space innovation as an Internal Research Fellow focusing on critical materials and chemistry research


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No salary declared 😔

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ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands

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Expires at anytime

The European Space Agency (ESA) is at the forefront of global space exploration and technology. Within the Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality, the Materials Physics and Chemistry Section offers cutting-edge space simulation facilities and expert support to all ESA projects, driving advancements in materials science that are essential for successful space missions. This is an exciting opportunity for a passionate researcher to contribute to groundbreaking studies that have a direct impact on the future of space exploration.

  • Conduct vital research on water ice contamination and its effects on space missions.
  • Utilize state-of-the-art space simulation facilities to understand and mitigate contamination in spacecraft.
  • Support ESA's flagship missions with quality and engineering expertise in materials physics and chemistry.
  • PhD in materials physics and chemistry, contamination engineering, or thin film optical coatings.
  • Strong research background with a publication record and ability to work autonomously.
  • Recent PhD graduates (within the past five years) preferred.
  • In-depth knowledge of optical coatings, vacuum physics, and contamination effects in space.
  • Proficiency in English or French, with additional language skills considered an asset.

The Internal Research Fellow will be based in the Materials and Chemistry Section, Technical Reliability and Quality Division, Product Assurance and Safety Department, Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality.

Our team and mission The Materials Physics and Chemistry Section operates state-of-the-art space simulation facilities, relating for example to vacuum, temperature and EM and particle radiation, as well as instruments to characterise physical and chemical properties in the Materials and EEE Components Laboratory. It provides quality and engineering support to all ESA projects and development programmes in materials physics and chemistry, the associated processes and environmental effects.

Field(s) of activity/research for the traineeship Water ice contamination has been a significant concern over the past number of decades for some of ESA’s flagship Science and Earth Observation missions operating in cold conditions. Yet there remains little published research about precisely how ice forms on optical mirrors in vacuum and its impact on observations. Very thin layers of water ice contamination can cause critical impacts on mission performance, as has been recently highlighted with the Euclid space telescope. The problem may become even more significant for future space telescopes and cryogenic optical instruments due to the expected increase in performance requirements. Further research into the subject is urgently required to better understand the causes and effects of water ice contamination in spacecraft and to identify future mitigation strategies.

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

Education You should have recently completed or be close to completion of a PhD in a subject relating to materials physics and chemistry, contamination engineering or thin film optical coatings. Preference will be given to applications submitted by candidates who have obtained their PhD in the past five years.

Additional requirements sound knowledge of the physics and chemistry of optical coatings and thin films, vacuum physics, materials outgassing and contamination effects for space applications or related ground-based vacuum applications

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.


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