Internal Research Fellow (PostDoc) in Radio Occultation Measurements with ExoMars TGO


Postdoctorate Position Permanent Noordwijk, The Netherlands

Uploaded 6 Jun 2019

Job Description

Our team and mission

The Internal Research Fellow will be based in Directorate of Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration and he/she will receive tutoring from the ExoMars Project Scientist, from the Science Support Office, Directorate of Science.

Interested candidates are encouraged to visit the ESA website:

Field(s) of activities/research

The radio occultation technique, to send a signal from a spacecraft to a ground station on Earth through the atmosphere of the other planet, is a powerful tool to probe planetary atmospheres and ionospheres from orbit. It is used regularly by many spacecraft in orbits around planets in the solar system, in order to provide high-resolution profiles of electron densities in ionospheres and neutral densities in atmospheres. It does however suffer from some inherent limitations; the coverage is very limited at low and equatorial latitudes, the signal is affected by the Earth ionosphere and atmosphere and by the interplanetary plasma during the propagation from the planet to the Earth ground station, the signal to noise ratio can be low when the planet is far away, and it is only possible to measure in seasons, when occultations actually take place.

Overview of the field of research proposed

In order to get around the limitations described above we are planning to make a set of innovative observations with ExoMars-TGO, using a UHF signal sent by Mars Express. This is what we call a Mutual Radio Occultation Measurement. The objective is to probe the ionosphere and the atmosphere in a much more flexible and accurate way than the conventional S/C to Earth occultation technique.

These measurements will be the first regular observations of its kind at Mars.

The main tasks of the Research Fellow will therefore cover:

  • forwarding modelling of the measurements, using actual flight parameters, and inversion of modelled data to derive profiles and compare with input data;
  • planning of real observations, selecting the best opportunities;
  • analysis of the measured data and derive atmospheric and ionospheric profiles. Further process the results and study effects with respect to atmospheric and ionospheric processes.

The detailed tasks will depend on the background and the interests of the individual candidate

The Research Fellow is also expected to create research and collaborative links as needed with other areas of the Directorate of Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration as well as the ESA Science Directorate and ESA Technical Directorate in order to profit from existing expertise and for exploiting synergies within ESA’s various activity areas.

Information on the ExoMars-TGO project can be found here:

The closing date for applications is 26 June 2019.

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. Candidates are asked to arrange for 3 reference letters, to be sent by the referees themselves, before the closing date to [email protected] Please ensure your name is mentioned in the subject of the e-mail.

If you require support with your application due to a disability, please email [email protected].

Person Specification

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 space and space research
  • Ability to gather and share relevant information

Behavioural competencies

  • Innovation & Creativity
  • Continuous Learning
  • Communication
  • Relationship Management
  • Self Motivation
  • Problem Solving
  • Cross-Cultural Sensitivity


Applicants 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 candidates are expected to have research experience in at least one of the following areas, with a demonstrated interest in others: Radio signal propagation, planetary atmospheres and ionospheres, spacecraft instrumentation, space instrumentation data analysis.

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.     

Applicants are required to be able to demonstrate an ability to work in a multidisciplinary environment as part of diverse teams. A proactive approach to identifying opportunities, problem solving and communicating is required.