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Call for ESA HRE Research Fellows (Postdocs) will be opened soon - SciSpacE

Call for ESA HRE Research Fellows (Postdocs) will be opened soon

This call is for ESA’s Human and Robotic Exploration

ESA’s postdoctoral Research Fellowship (RF) programme offers early-career scientists the possibility to carry out research in a variety of disciplines related to space science, space applications or space technology. Job offers willl be published on ESA career web page.

Research Fellowships in Human and Robotic Exploration specifically offer the opportunity to contribute to ESA’s Human and Robotic Exploration programme [link to terrae novae].

  1. Scope of the Research Fellowship

ESA’s postdoctoral Research Fellowship programme offers early-career scientists the possibility to carry out independent research in a variety of disciplines related to space science, space applications or space technology. ESA RFs provide a unique opportunity to work with scientists and engineers at the forefront of space science, and experience first-hand how ESA works with (scientific) communities across the Member States to maximise the scientific return from our missions and activities.

Research Fellowships in HRE specifically offer the opportunity to contribute to ESA’s Human and Robotic Exploration programme in the fields of Human Exploration Science, Biology, Physical, and Moon and Mars Sciences. Targeted topic for this call are listed in the table below.

2. Appointment

ESA’s postdoctoral Research Fellowship programme offers early-career scientists and engineers the possibility to carry out independent research in a variety of disciplines related to Human and Robotic Exploration science, applications or technology. ESA Fellowships provide a unique opportunity to work with scientists and engineers at the forefront of Exploration science, and experience first-hand how ESA works with communities across the Member States to maximise the scientific return from our missions.

Duration: Appointments are for a maximum of three years.
The initial project is for two years. An extension for a third year requires a dedicated proposal and is granted if considered relevant.

Location:  Research Fellowships at HRE can be located in either ESTEC (Noordwijk, The Netherlands) or EAC (Cologne, Germany).

3. Application process

The JRs will not be coupled to a specific topic. Within the HRE Directorate, all independent proposals for innovative research associated with one or more of HRE missions are welcomed. The applicant should define a research proposal linked to HRE activities and in line with the HRE Explore 2024 strategy  [link to terrae novae]. Job offers and application process is published on ESA career web page.

3.1 Who can apply

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, Croatia, 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.

Applicants should have recently completed, or be close to completing their PhD in a technical or scientific discipline. Preference will be given to applications submitted by candidates with up to five years of experience after their PhD.

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 female scientists are encouraged.

3.2 How to apply

There is a single opening for all offered positions. There are no pre-defined projects, applicants are invited to prepare an independent research proposal of a project based on their interests and expertise. To apply, you will have to use the interface operated by ESA Human Resources that will become available with the official call.

All ESA vacancy notices can be seen under: ESA career web page.

Required application Materials:

Four separate documents will need to be uploaded:

  • A motivation letter;
  • Your CV
  • A list of publications. This needs to be separate from the CV. For publications that are not first-authored, please indicate the individual contribution.
  • A research proposal (4 pages maximum including any figures or tables, minimum font size 11pt). It is expected to include sections outlining (1) the research rationale, (2) impact and past achievements, (3) research plans for the fellowship (with rough time line), (4) synergies with mission-related activities and scientists at ESA.

Further information useful to be prepared for the online application form are the contact information of three persons willing to provide references and a prioritised list of one or more establishments that you would like to join (EAC, ESTEC). Note that at the time of application, reference letters are not required, only the contact information of three persons.

The review committee will consist of members with diverse areas of expertise. Therefore the application should be written for a general audience of scientists. The application will be evaluated with respect to scientific excellence of the candidate (past achievements), proposed research at ESA (feasibility, future impact), and synergies with existing ESA-HRE research activities at the selected site.

3.3 What happens after applying?

Inquiries regarding the application process can be sent at any time to the fellowship coordinator.

  • Short-listed candidates will be invited to a short online interview.
  • Offers are expected to be made end 2024 /early 2025.

3.4 Conditions and benefit

For terms and conditions we refer to the [Link General Description].


DisciplinesThemesHRE activities and missions related to the themes
Human ExplorationDeep Venous Thrombosis: literature review of data, research on risk factors and mitigation strategies [Top Priority for human research]Ground-based Facilities, Space analogues (e.g. bedrest or dry immersion), ISS, Gateway
 Countermeasures to mitigate impact of space-associated risks to crew health and performanceGround-based Facilities, Space analogues (bedrest, dry immersion, isolation studies, Concordia research station, etc.), ISS, Gateway
 Behavioural health and mental well-being of crewIsolation and confinement studies, ISS, Gateway
Cross disciplineSpace Habitation, including Biological Life Support SystemsGround-based Facilities, Space analogues (bedrest, dry immersion, isolation studies, Concordia research station, etc.), ISS, Gateway
 Advanced biological models and applied tissue engineering (e.g., synthetic biology, organoids, 3D bioprinting)Ground-Based Facilities, IBPER (ground accelerator) facilities, ISS, Gateway
 Radiation BiologyGround-Based Facilities, IBPER (ground accelerator) facilities, ISS, Gateway
Physical sciencesFundamental physics in space: measurements of time and gravity, High energy cosmic ray and atmosphere physicsACES, ISOC, Gravitational waves detector on the Moon ASIM, EUSO, other ISS payloads
Physical sciencesAdvanced manufacturing, solidification in reduced gravity and Material sciences, Fluid , soft matter and plasma physics. EML, MSL, Transparent alloys, X-ray facility , Soft Matter Dynamics, PK4
Moon science  Mapping and reporting potential lunar resourcesPROSPECT, EMS, Small missions call.
Moon science  The integrated environment on and around the Moon and its effectsERSA, IDA, HADES, NILS, ASTERIA
Mars scienceApplying machine-learning/AI to the analyses of Mars analogue and extraterrestrial materials with a focus on X-ray tomography and/or life detection data reductionMars Sample Return (MSR)
Mars ScienceScience exploitation from Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), including TGO and Mars Express (MEX) radio-occultation past and future campaigns  ExoMars/Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO)
Mars ScienceOptimizing strategic science planning for the ExoMars/Rosalind Franklin Mission  ExoMars/Rosalind Franklin Mission (RFM)
Mars scienceParticipation in ExoMars/Rosalind Franklin Mission analysis of mission reference samplesExoMars/Rosalind Franklin Mission (RFM)
In Situ Resource UtilisationMolten salt electrolysis and associated processes for reduction of lunar regolith to produce oxygen and metals.ESA ISRU ground based research laboratories in preparation for and ISRU Pilot Plant
Studies and TechnologiesMoon/Mars Analogues Development and Solar System Analogues Studies: Sample Preparation, Curation & CharacterisationVULCAN (Top Priority)
 Shielding & Protection from Radiations (primarily artificial & natural) for Systems and CrewsMoon & Mars (Top Priority)
 Lunar Surface Construction Techniques Assessment and Demonstration for LUNA External ElementsLUNA (Second Priority)
 European Analogues Landscape: Key Concepts Definition and Standardisation, Preparation for Returned Samples: Extraterrestrial Sample Curation & CharacterisationVULCAN (Tertiary Priority)
 Scientific Surface Activities Preparation, Tools and Concepts of Operations in the LUNA Facility, Lunar Navigation and Communications Simulation in LUNALUNA (Tertiary Priority)
 Generating Synthetic Data for AI Training using VR Spaceships (Tertiary Priority)
List of targeted topics for Research follow