Vacature Internal Research Fellow Postdoc

Internal Research Fellow Postdoc in Noordwijk Zh


Internal Research Fellow (PostDoc) in Water Ice Contamination in Spacecraft

Job Requisition ID: 18686

Closing Date: 11 June 2024 23:59 CET/CEST

Establishment: ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands

Directorate: Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality

Publication: External Only

Type of Contract : Internal Research Fellow

Date Posted: 21 May 2024

Internal Research Fellowship Opportunity in the Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality .

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.

The Internal Research Fellow will be based in the Materials and Chemistry Section, Technical Reliability and Quality Division, Product Assurance and Safety Department, Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality.

ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands

Our team and mission

The Materials Physics and Chemistry Section operates state-of-the-art space simulation facilities, relating for example to vacuum, temperature and EM and particle radiation, as well as instruments to characterise physical and chemical properties in the Materials and EEE Components Laboratory. It provides quality and engineering support to all ESA projects and development programmes in materials physics and chemistry, the associated processes and environmental effects.

The Section's activities include:

  • physical analysis and characterisation of materials, including phase transition thermo-mechanical analysis, thermo-optical analysis, thermal analysis, surface analyses such as electron-based imaging techniques, for example SEM/EDX/WDX, X-ray techniques, such as X-ray tomography, and other non-destructive evaluation techniques;
  • chemical analysis and characterisation of materials, covering all types of spectroscopy, for example UV-VIS-NIR,GCMS, NMR, FTIR, Raman, thermal analysis, surface analysis such as XPS, EDX, WDX, and contact angle;
  • cleanliness and contamination control, including lab work focusing on contamination monitoring, materials outgassing characterisation, surface analysis and evaluation of contamination impacts on performance;
  • environmental evaluation (ground/space effects), including lab testing work and support of non-conformance reviews and requests for approval; this includes the evaluation of degradation effects due to long-term storage, entry/re-entry assessment of physical/chemical processes and other processes;
  • performance prediction and verification, including in-orbit and post-flight analysis, of materials and associated processes.

You are encouraged to visit the ESA website:

Field(s) of activity/research for the traineeship

Water ice contamination has been a significant concern over the past number of decades for some of ESA's flagship Science and Earth Observation missions operating in cold conditions. Yet there remains little published research about precisely how ice forms on optical mirrors in vacuum and its impact on observations. Very thin layers of water ice contamination can cause critical impacts on mission performance, as has been recently highlighted with the Euclid space telescope ( begin_to_de-ice_Euclid's_vision ).

The problem may become even more significant for future space telescopes and cryogenic optical instruments due to the expected increase in performance requirements. Further research into the subject is urgently required to better understand the causes and effects of water ice contamination in spacecraft and to identify future mitigation strategies.

In particular, your research activities will involve:

  • performing state of the art literature reviews of water ice contamination in spacecraft, including the physics and chemistry of ice formation, the causes of water ice formation, such as materials outgassing, view factors and thermal conditions, and the associated effects, for example absorption and scattering;
  • implementing an experimental test programme to investigate and better understand the formation of water ice contamination on representative spacecraft optical surfaces, utilising state-of-the-art equipment available in the ESTEC Materials Laboratories (see for example: EuCLID ice contamination testing, S.Szmolka et al, ISMSE15/ICPMSE 13 IOP conference series 2023, doi:10.1088/1757-899X/1287/1/012028);
  • designing new experimental test set-ups and devising new test methods to improve the existing techniques;
  • performing theoretical predictions and modelling to compare with the experimental results;
  • investigating potential mitigation strategies, for example ice repellent coatings, moisture-free materials and optimisation of design.

You will have the opportunity to work with other colleagues and teams within ESA with an interest in the topic, such as contamination and materials engineers, optical performance engineers and project study scientists.

Further background information can also be found in the following articles:

Euclid preparation, XXIX. Water ice in spacecraft, Part I: The physics of ice formation and contamination, M.Schirmer et al, Astronomy and Astrophysics, 2023,

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 subject relating to materials physics and chemistry, contamination engineering or thin film optical coatings.
Preference will be given to applications submitted by candidates who have obtained their PhD in the past five years.

Additional requirements

  • sound knowledge of the physics and chemistry of optical coatings and thin films, vacuum physics, materials outgassing and contamination effects for space applications or related ground-based vacuum applications
  • general knowledge of optical instruments for space applications and contamination effects
  • strong experience with experimental testing and measurement techniques for thin film materials analysis, vacuum testing and optical performance testing and familiarity with the different types of relevant instrumentation, such as spectrometers, detectors, materials surface analysis and chemical analysis equipment and quartz crystal microbalances
  • strong experience with numerical modelling and simulation of thin film effects on optical surfaces, including experience with commercial thin film software and/or development of standalone software

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.

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.

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*.

Functie:internal research fellow postdoc
Salaris:onbekend – onbekend
Uren per week:1 – 40

Heb je interesse in deze vacature en wil je graag op deze functie solliciteren? Neem dan contact op met Unknown via Unknown of Unknown. Of bezoek hun website Unknown.

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  1. Internal Research Fellow Postdoc ARES – (Association of Retired ESA Staff in Nederland). 25-05-2024

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