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Young Graduate Trainee for Software Engineering (XMM Newton)

  • Organization: ESA - European Space Agency
  • Location:
  • Grade: F1 - Young Graduate Trainee - Junior level
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Engineering
    • Information Technology and Computer Science
  • Closing Date: 2019-12-15

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Young Graduate Traineeship 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. Applications from women are encouraged.

Young Graduate Trainee for Software Engineering (XMM Newton)

This post is classified F1.


ESAC, Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain 

Our team and mission

The XMM-Newton Science Operations Centre (SOC) at ESAC is responsible for:

  • handling announcements of opportunity and proposals for observations of the XMM-Newton X-ray mission, including technical evaluation and support to the Time Allocation Committee. 

  • long- and short-yterm planning of observations, including instrument handling, calibration observations and targets of opportunity. 

  • scientific calibration and analysis software development.
  • pipeline processing and data distribution.  
  • scientific users support.

Candidates interested are encouraged to visit the ESA website:

Field(s) of activity

XMM-Newton is ESA’s X-ray space observatory, designed to study the most energetic cosmic phenomena from black holes to the origins of the Universe.

The XMM-Newton Science Analysis System (SAS) is a software package dedicated to the reduction, calibration and analysis of the scientific data collected with the mission instruments. SAS has been used by astronomers worldwide in over 5500 refereed scientific publications, contributing to the high mission success. The SAS also represents the core of the Pipeline Production System (PPS), the source of all official mission products.

The development of SAS started in a highly distributed manner two decades ago. Since then it has been maintained and further developed to cope with new requirements, to adapt to the evolution of instruments in space and to new observation and analysis techniques. For it is not only instruments that have evolved in 20 years;  computer operating systems, libraries and third-party software packages too have undergone enormous changes, to which the SAS needs to adapt. As of today, a small team centralised at ESAC is taking care of the whole system.

One of the team’s current main challenges is to ensure the longest possible life for the analysis package after end of mission, even if this is not yet on the horizon.  A migration to Python, the language of choice in modern astronomy, of certain important areas of the SAS is therefore seen as fundamental to this. The areas to migrate comprise all the graphical output and the interactive scripting. You will participate actively in this, working within the team of software specialists at the XMM-Newton SOC.

Over this project, you will gain deep real-world experience of the challenges of software development and maintenance within an evolving environment and will be able to contribute to tools which will be used by astronomers for many years to come. You will also learn about data analysis techniques, scientific uses of X-ray satellites and the challenges and procedures of operating a space mission. This project would be a strong stepping-stone if you are interested in preparing yourself for involvement in future X-ray satellites like ATHENA

Technical competencies
Knowledge of relevant technical domains
Relevant experience gained during internships/project work
Breadth of exposure coming from past and/or current research/activities
Knowledge of ESA and its programmes/projects
Behavioural competencies
Self Motivation
Continuous Learning
Cross-Cultural Sensitivity

You should have just completed, or be in the final year of a university course at Master's level (or equivalent) in a technical or scientific discipline.  

Additional requirements

Programming experience with Python is required; demonstrable experience with developing scripts or graphical output would be helpful.

Experience with X-ray, especially XMM-Newton, analysis would be desirable.

A basic astrophysical background is desirable, but not required.

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.

You should demonstrate good interpersonal skills and the capacity to work both independently and as part of a team.

During the interview your motivation and overall professional perspective/career goals will also be explored.

Other information

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

The closing date for applications is  15 December 2019.

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


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 Slovenia, as an Associate Member, or Canada as a Cooperating State, can apply as well as those from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia as European Cooperating States (ECS).

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

We do our best to provide you the most accurate info, but closing dates may be wrong on our site. Please check on the recruiting organization's page for the exact info. Candidates are responsible for complying with deadlines and are encouraged to submit applications well ahead.
Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.

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