ESO Engineering and Technology Research Fellowships / Studentships

ESO Engineering and Technology Research

Post-doctoral Fellowships, PhD Studentships,
Master Internships in various engineering fields


The European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere has as its primary mission to build and operate state-of-the-art facilities for the advancement of astronomical research.  A strong Research & Development (R&D) programme is therefore at the core of ESO's activities.

Sorry, but all positions are filled for 2022.

Please come back around the end of 2022 for available position in 2023.

What are we looking for?


  • Dynamic young individuals ready to take an active part in the ESO R&D projects with a good deal of team spirit, curiosity and eagerness to learn.


For 2022, all our positions for interns (5 to 6-months internships for students at Masters level), students (PhD studentships for up to 3 years) and fellows (fellowships for up to 3 years) are already occupied.


Please come back to this web page in October 2022 to see which positions will be opened for 2023



What do we offer?

  • A broad range of engineering research subjects and professional experience in software development, data mining, electronics, optics and high-resolution imaging.
  • An international, multi-disciplinary environment, situated on the Garching science campus close to Munich, Germany, next to the best German universities and world-renown research centers: Technical University Munich (TUM), Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) and its observatory, Maier-Leibnitz-Laboratory (MLL), Max-Planck Institutes for Astrophysics (MPA), for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE), of Quantum Optics (MPQ), for Plasma Physics (IPP), Walter-Meißner-Institute (WMI), Leibniz Supercomputing center (LRZ) and the Walter-Schottky-Institute.  ESO participates in the Excellence Cluster Universe, also based on the Garching campus.  A very active campus life takes place with many open lectures in all scientific fields.  Garching also attracts the high-tech research centers of worldwide companies like General Electric..  See
  • Working in collaboration with ESO's partner institutes and high-tech industries in the ESO member states.
  • Three observatories at the forefront of ground-based astronomy and of technology: La Silla, Paranal and ALMA. And one of the most challenging telescopes under construction: the Extremely Large Telescope
  • An attractive remuneration package for fellows and PhD students
  • Decent compensation of living costs for master students.
  • If available, a room in a shared ESO apartment for some months, when you arrive.

What kind of R&D is being done at ESO?

ESO is working on developments in many fields of engineering. Here are some examples of past and current research & development topics:

  • Advanced visible and infra-red detectors: development of new e-APD arrays and CMOS detectors in collaboration with the industry, modeling and advanced testing of the detectors, characterization and optimization, controller development…
  • Sub-millimeter receivers for ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter Array): development of cryogenic first-stage amplifiers, development of band 2+3 cartridges…
  • Adaptive optics: extreme adaptive optics testbench for exo-planet observation; development of new technologies for deformable mirrors in collaboration with the industry; advanced, extensive AO simulation tools; study and development of new wavefront sensor concepts …
  • Laser guide stars: solid state laser development in collaboration with the industry; testing of the laser guide star return flux; up-link and down-link tip-tilt correction for laser communications in collaboration with ESA; field experiments at la Palma (Canary Islands) …
  • Interferometry: fringe tracking; differential astrometry; data reduction for high angular resolution imaging …
  • Optics and photonics technologies: deflectometry feasibility studies; active phasing experiment; optical metrologies for the characterization at sub-micron level of large scale structures … in our 900 m2 of optical laboratories and integration halls
  • Mechanical engineering: opto-mechanics and cryogeny for astronomical instrumentation and telescopes, finite-element analysis and modeling of large structures including wind, gravity and temperature effects, vibration analysis and fighting…
  • Control software & engineering: PLC controllers for instruments and cryostats, Real Time Computing Systems for adaptive optics and for the ELT …
  • Systems engineering: Prototyping a model-based system engineering (MBSE) approach; verification and commissioning of complex systems; reliability & availability analysis for an VLT or ELT instrument…

The currently funded active R&D projects are:

  • Development of deformable mirrors for future ESO projects, with a very large number of actuators.
  • Development of a detector test bench for advanced and complete testing of the detectors that are being used in ESO instruments.
  • Development of a new generation controller for the ESO visible and infrared detectors.
  • Common Instrument Systems for the ELT: prototypes for the technical visible and infra-red cameras of the ELT, definition of the real time software toolbox.
  • PCS (Planetary Coronograph System) technology development: extreme adaptive optics.
  • Cryo-amplifiers for advanced ALMA receivers.
  • Field experiments with Pyramid WFS and pulsed lasers.
  • Advanced reflective coatings.
  • Large Saphira (e-APDs) Detector.
  • Curved detectors.
  • Laser Frequency Comb for astronomical applications.

Research subjects for Master's, PhD theses and fellowships

The candidates for a master's thesis can choose one (or a couple) of the subjects proposed in Table 1 according to their studies, experience and interests.

It is expected from the PhD studentship candidates that they develop and grow their research plan based on one of our original subjects (no subjects left currently in 2021, come back in 2022) in discussion with their supervisor in their home university and with the  ESO supervisor.

We do not propose specific subjects for the fellowship candidates as they have to come with their own original, personal research plan. Of course the candidates are free to take inspiration from the various research topics described here, as we have the infrastructure necessary to support them. But the personal research plan has to show the own ideas, imagination, initiative and structured approach of the candidates.


Information on how to apply and which documents to provide will be provided when positions are available again..