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Young Graduate Trainee for Contamination Effects Analysis

  • Organization: ESA - European Space Agency
  • Location:
  • Grade: F1 - Young Graduate Trainee - Junior level
  • Occupational Groups:
  • 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 Contamination Effects Analysis

This post is classified F1.


ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands 

Our team and mission

The Materials Physics & Chemistry Section operates state-of-the-art space simulation facilities (vacuum, temperature, EM and particle radiation) as well as instruments to characterise physical and chemical properties within the materials and EEE components laboratory. It provides quality and engineering support to all ESA projects and development programmes in the areas of materials physics and chemistry, associated processes and environmental effects.

What we do:

  • physical analysis and characterisation of materials including phase transitions, thermo-mechanical analysis, thermo-optical analysis, thermal analysis, surface analyses such as electron-based imaging techniques (SEM/EDX/WDX), X-ray techniques such as X-ray tomography and other non-destructive evaluation techniques;
  • chemical analysis and characterisation of materials (all types of spectroscopy such as UV-VIS-NIR, GCMS, NMR, FTIR, Raman, thermal analysis, surface analysis such as XPS, EDX,WDX, contact angle);
  • cleanliness and contamination control, including lab work focused on contamination monitoring, materials outgassing characterisation, surface analysis and evaluation of contamination impacts on performance;
  • environmental evaluation (ground/space effects) including lab testing work and support for nonconformance reviews, requests for approval; includes evaluation of degradation effects due to long-term storage, entry/re-entry assessment of physical/chemical processes and other processes;
  • performance prediction and verification (incl. in-orbit & post-flight analysis) of materials and associated processes.

Candidates interested are encouraged to visit the ESA website:

Field(s) of activity

The loss of performance due to contamination is a widespread phenomenon frequently identified over the years on various space missions. While the consequences may be minor (slight throughput loss), they may also extend to complete mission failure due to the affected sub-systems incapacity to comply with requirements (thermal, optical, even scientific). The field of Contamination & Cleanliness Control progressively faces more stringent requirements as future missions demand better efficiency, lower acceptable losses and simultaneously challenge the limits of technology while subjecting materials and components to much harsher conditions than ever before.  Analyses that are more precise and tailored to specific objectives must therefore be performed on the ground, to ensure success and quality throughout the lifetime of any mission. Of particular interest for the activity is the outgassing behavior (gaseous release from solids when exposed to a vacuum) of different compounds, capable of producing molecular contamination on sensitive surfaces and affecting the performance of the collecting surface. Actual effects may be unwanted absorption of light, enhancement of stray-light, change of thermo-optical balance, amongst many others.

The main goal here is to improve ground testing techniques and characterisation capabilities with respect to molecular contamination and related performance loss of optical surfaces. Different state-of-the-art and unique vacuum testing facilities will be at your disposal as YGT throughout the internship. With these, you will recreate the space environment, replicating on the ground the conditions experienced by spacecraft materials (vacuum, temperature, UV irradiation).

Your expected contributions as a YGT are:

  • contributing to development of testing capabilities by e.g. designing new optical test set-ups  to incorporate in vacuum chambers;
  • characterising and quantifying molecular contamination levels using different techniques such as Fourier Transformed Infra-red Spectroscopy, Quartz Crystal Microbalances, absorption coefficient of known species, confocal microscopy, and cross-correlate information from each of them;
  • designing and executing hands-on experiments, taking advantage of existing vacuum test chambers and support instruments/equipment (microscopes, spectrometers);
  • analysing test data with currently available tools and contributing to development of new models/characterisation techniques (of particular interest is characterisation of molecular contamination depositing in droplets vs thin films);
  • modelling contamination optical properties;
  • using models to predict the effects of molecular contamination on different sensitive surfaces;
  • writing test procedures and reports to document activities throughout the Traineeship.
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

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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