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Young Graduate Trainee for Exploration and Instrumentation

  • Organization: ESA - European Space Agency
  • Location:
  • Grade: F1 - Young Graduate Trainee - Junior level
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Scientist and Researcher
    • Innovations for Sustainable Development
    • Civil Society and Local governance
  • Closing Date: 2019-12-15

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Young Graduate Traineeship Opportunity in the Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality.

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 Exploration and Instrumentation

This post is classified F1.


ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands 

Our team and mission

The Mechatronics and Optics Division is ESA’s centre of competence in areas related to optics, optoelectronics, robotics and instrumentation development for microgravity experiments and exploration, ECLS design, engineering, verification and in situ resource utilisation. It provides support to projects, preparatory and technology programmes. Within this framework, the Life Support & Physical Sciences Instrumentation Section is in charge of development of advanced life support systems and support to operational activities in human spaceflight.

Candidates interested are encouraged to visit the ESA website:

Field(s) of activity

Within our team, you will be involved in the group of Life Support Systems engineers and will contribute to the MELiSSA (Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative) project (, both at scientific and engineering level. The project aims at developing a closed ecosystem, mimicking the Earth, for future long-duration space missions. Its scientific concept is based on an aquatic ecosystem, which performs organic matter degradation and consequently provides nutrients to oxygen and food-producing organisms (cyanobacteria and higher plants).

You will be investigating the food-producing compartment, more specifically higher plant production in a hydroponic system. Previous work performed on this compartment focused on development of a mathematical model (first principle) of plant growth. Such a model is structured in several modules addressing specific plant processes (photosynthesis, transpiration). The process of interest for the proposed traineeship is transpiration, which needs to be investigated further – in particular, its dependence on/correlation with atmospheric water content (i.e. relative humidity) and salinity of the plant culture medium. In this framework, you will be in charge of the experimental and eventual computer simulation work related to higher plant transpiration process study (water transport in/within/out the plant, water mass balance at plant growth chamber level, water salinity analysis).

Your tasks will include:

  • Studying the literature, including MELiSSA project data (technical notes, designs)
  • Defining a scientific investigations plan, as well as computer simulations plan (e.g. for mass balances, energy balance, stoichiometry, kinetics)
  • Studying and preparing a test set-up, including analytical tools whenever relevant, to perform the investigations with a simple higher plant specimen (infrastructure for higher plant culture in hydroponics is available) as well as the experimental procedures; performing the investigations and computer simulation
  • Concluding on other future work you may assess as needed.
  • Participating in the general life of the project (meetings, communication items, events organisation)
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 relevant 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. 

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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