Internal Research Fellow Lunar Samples, Research and Application


Postdoctorate Position 2 years Noordwijk, The Netherlands

Uploaded 17 Jul 2018

Job Description

The appointee will do research using lunar samples and materials to produce new scientific results and provide data and lessons-learned to inform the preparation of ESA’s exploration programme. He/she will also support the maintenance and implementation of a Lunar Science, Research & Applications Plan (see below).

Research will be done which results in new and novel scientific results, published in peer-reviewed journals. Areas of particular interest are those which yield information having implications for: the origins, abundance and distribution of water on the Moon; potential resources (e.g. water, oxygen, metals) of lunar regolith, the physical properties of lunar regolith; approaches to handling, excavating and processing lunar regolith; sample curation and handling. An important aspect of the Fellowship will be the use of scientific and technical insights obtained through working with samples to support the definition of new and improved engineering approaches to working with lunar and Martian samples and materials on future exploration missions, both in situ and sample-return.

Samples will be obtained through proposals to appropriate authorities for access and through cooperation with research groups with existing research activities in this area. This may include new proposals for samples, involvement in ongoing activities and engagement in existing ESA activities and proposals. Activities may be with institutional and/or international partners. Work may also involve working with, and supporting, the development and characterisation of new and existing simulants and standards.

It is expected that most of the laboratory-based research will be performed using facilities found at ESTEC subject to agreement with laboratory management. For available facilities, see for example:

Facilities associated with other ESA centres may also be considered, as may those based at other institutions where relevant and accessible, e.g.:

A Lunar Science Research and Applications Plan

A Plan is in preparation to identify European priorities for fundamental and applied research enabled by lunar exploration and to address how this research can be enabled and implemented by ESA’s lunar exploration plans. This Plan includes science on, of and from the Moon. It looks for synergies with Mars, benefits for Earth and aims to generate knowledge that can enable and transform future exploration missions through the use of lunar resources.

An important aspect of the Research Fellowship will be to support the development and ongoing revision of the Plan, activities that implement the Plan and interactions/consultations with various research communities to ensure that it continues to represent community consensus on priorities and implementation approach.

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
  • 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 completing, a PhD in a related technical or scientific discipline. Preference will be given to applications submitted within five years of candidates being awarded their doctorate. Research experience in any of the following areas will be viewed favourably:

  • Scientific research using lunar samples
  • Handling and preparing lunar materials
  • Writing and publishing scientific papers
  • Leading or supporting proposals for accessing lunar samples
  • Working with international, multidisciplinary and multi-institution teams
  • Working in teams including both scientists and engineers

Additional requirements

Knowledge of the breadth and diversity of lunar science and research relevant to exploration, beyond the scope of the specific research to be done. Competence in the specific skills required to do the proposed research (laboratory, measurement and analysis, programming etc.). Applicants must demonstrate an ability to work in a multidisciplinary environment in diverse teams. A proactive approach to identifying opportunities, problem-solving and communication skills are also required.

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.

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