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Internal Research Fellow (PostDoc) in Quantum Computing for Earth Observation

Italy (Italy)

  • Organization: ESA - European Space Agency
  • Location: Italy (Italy)
  • Grade: F2 - Research Fellowship - Mid level
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Scientist and Researcher
    • Environment
    • Information Technology and Computer Science
    • Outer space and satellite technology
  • Closing Date: 2021-09-30

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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.


Post (for 2 posts)
Internal Research Fellow (PostDoc) in Quantum Computing for Earth Observation


This post is classified F2.


ESRIN, Frascati, Italy  


Our team and mission

You will be based at Φ-lab at ESRIN, whose mission is to accelerate new developments in Earth observation (EO) by helping ESA, European industry, start-up and research communities rapidly adopt transformative technologies. You will be part of a multi-disciplinary team of researchers and data scientists passionate about innovation, and will work in an inspiring and collaborative environment.
Φ-lab is focusing on exploring the use and impact of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing (QC), Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain activities which have promise in terms of delivering visible impact in the field of Earth observation.
Find more information about research and innovation at Φ-lab here:


Interested candidates are encouraged to visit the ESA website:

Field(s) of activity/research for the traineeship

You will carry out applied research in quantum computing with particular emphasis on developing new methods applicable to Earth observation. You will define and lead research projects addressing the objectives of the Φ-lab Quantum Computing for Earth Observation (QC4EO) initiative, and more generally ESA’s objectives. You will work closely with the Φ-lab team and network of partners to explore new ideas at the intersection between AI, QC, and EO. You will support and contribute to Φ-lab activities in the community related to your expertise.

In particular, you will :

•    perform the agreed applied research, contributing to current and future Φ-lab QC4EO use cases or methodologies (e.g. SAR phase unwrapping by quantum annealing, pattern recognition in EO data, quantum machine learning, quantum solving of differential equations);
•    develop algorithms and tools to take account of the specific characteristics of EO data sets and physical measurement principles, and apply them to a variety of EO data applications, (e.g. translate EO problems into QC algorithms);
•    prepare, validate and maintain large-scale training data sets, to be used for the development and evaluation of QC algorithms by international research and industrial communities;
•    organise and lead QC4EO challenges on proposed topics;
•    collaborate with academia and industrial partners on transferring research results to applications;
•    support the team in rapidly prototyping and evaluating solutions for application to EO data sets and challenges, particularly those relevant to ESA EO missions;
•    publish your research in top-ranked, peer-reviewed journals and conferences;
•    communicate and disseminate widely your results and tools (through social media, blog posts, open-source repositories, etc.).

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
General interest in Earth Observation

Behavioural competencies

Result Orientation
Operational Efficiency
Fostering Cooperation
Relationship Management
Continuous Improvement
Forward Thinking


You should have recently completed, or be close to completing a PhD in a relevant field or engineering discipline, e.g. computer science, AI, geospatial.

Preference will be given to applications submitted by candidates within five years of receiving their PhD. 

A PhD (completed before take-up of duties) with a thesis subject of your thesis relevant to the description of the tasks outlined above.

Additional requirements

The following skills would be an asset:

•    An adequate network within the reference community
•    Proven experience of leading internationally recognised research
•    Experience with one or more general purpose programming languages e.g. Python, and with deep learning / quantum computing frameworks e.g. Tensorflow, PyTorch, Qiskit
•    Curiosity and passion for new topics and research areas, including AI, QC, and New Space
•    Ability to gather and share relevant information
•    Ability to think outside the box and explore new paths
•    Ability to focus on applied research delivering tangible short-term results.

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.     

Other information

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


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 and Slovenia, as Associate Member States, or Canada as a Cooperating State, can apply as well as those from Bulgaria, Cyprus, 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.

What does it mean?

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