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Internal Research Fellow (Post-Doctoral) in AI and the use of Earth Observations for Climate


  • Organization: ESA - European Space Agency
  • Location: Esrin
  • Grade: Mid level - F2 - Research Fellowship
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Environment
    • Meteorology, Geology and Geography
    • Information Technology and Computer Science
    • Scientist and Researcher
    • Climate Change
    • Innovations for Sustainable Development
  • Closing Date: Closed


Internal 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.


This post is classified F2 on the Coordinated Organisations’ salary scale.


ESRIN, Frascati, Italy  


Our team and mission

This research fellowship is a joint collaboration between the ESA Φ-lab (in ESRIN, Frascati, Italy) and ESA Climate Office (in ECSAT, Harwell, United Kindgom). You will be based in the Φ-lab during the first year and in the Climate Office during the second year.
The ESA Φ-lab mission is to accelerate the uptake of Earth Observation (EO) by embracing innovation and be the catalyst for transformative innovation in the sector. Our vision is to become a “hub” connecting a growing ecosystem of transformative innovation across Europe, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the most relevant one. The power of AI for EO is today largely untapped. Many challenges still need to be tackled at scientific, applications and capability levels to deliver the maximum value from EO data from satellites for our climate, society and economy.

The ESA Climate Office is the focal point for climate activities in ESA and represents ESA’s interests in the international climate network, comprising policy makers, space agencies, international research organisations and national entities.  The Climate Office’s flagship programme, the Climate Change Initiative (CCI), addresses the Essential Climate Variables (ECV) as defined by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), through providing high-quality, validated, uncertainty characterised and cross-consistent long-term data records to further our understanding of a changing climate.   

This is a unique opportunity where the Research Fellow will have access to AI4EO and Climate experts from both ESA’s establishments to develop an agreed research project focused on AI4EO4Climate

Field(s) of activity/research for the traineeship

  • Explore the use of state-of-the-art AI techniques to enable development of high-quality EO-based climate data sets addressing Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) and quantify their benefits compared to traditional methods.
  • Demonstrate the skill of CCI’s climate data sets in developing AI based information.
  • Develop and curate training data sets and tools to enable the user community to develop their own data sets and AI4Climate applications.
  • Foster the use of innovative AI4EO applications enhancing resilience of our society to climate change, with particular interest in health, air quality applications and urban heat island, and transitioning from global to regional info.
  • Engage with the AI and CCI ecosystem to promote uptake of new tools and capture the latest developments in EO and digital technologies such as AI.
  • Publish the research project outcomes in high-impact journals.
  • Drive collaboration with the CCI science community, to promote uptake of these new techniques and solutions.
  • Contribute to the broader research aims and challenges of Φ-lab and the Climate Office, support efforts of rapid prototyping of innovative EO solutions, and support the AI4EO and AI4Climate communities.

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

Behavioural competencies

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


You should have recently completed, or be close to completion of a PhD in a related technical or scientific discipline. Preference  will  be  given  to applications submitted by candidates within  five  years of receiving their PhD. In particular for this position, the following is required:

PhD in AI, Computer Science, Machine Learning, Earth System Science, Climate studies, Geography, Geospatial Analytics/Data Science with the subject of the thesis being relevant to the description of the tasks outlined above.

Additional requirements

You should also have:

  • Ability to handle satellite and satellite-based EO datasets.
  • Ability to deliver high-quality research and publish in high-level journals
  • Ability to present findings of research activities to technical and lay audience
  • Knowledge of themes of interest, such as EO, AI, Climate, analytics, and New Space
  • Proven experience leading research, with international recognition.
  • Ability to think outside the box and explore new avenues, with natural curiosity and a passion for new subjects and research areas
  • Ability to work in a multicultural environment as part of a team
  • Experience with one or more general purpose programming languages (e.g. Python) and with general purpose deep learning frameworks e.g. Tensorflow, PyTorch;
  • Natural curiosity and a passion for new subjects and research areas, including AI, EO, and New Space


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.


For further information on the Internal Research Fellowship Programme please visit: Internal Research Fellowship


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

According to the ESA Convention, the recruitment of staff must take into account an adequate distribution of posts among nationals of the ESA Member States*. When short-listing for an interview, priority will first be given to candidates from under-represented or balanced 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 conducted by an external background screening service. 

*Member States, Associate Members or Cooperating States.

This vacancy is now closed.
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