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Vigil Mission Scientist

European Space Agency
Noordwijk, Netherlands
Posting live until
20 Jul 2024

Job Details

Vigil Mission Scientist

Job Requisition ID:  18734

Date Posted:  19 June 2024

Closing Date:  10 July 2024 23:59 CET/CEST

Publication:  Internal & External

Type of Contract:  Fixed-Term

Directorate:  Directorate of Operations

Workplace:  Noordwijk, NL

Grade Band:  A2 - A4

​This is a non-renewable post for a limited duration of 4 years.

ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands 


Vigil is a Space Safety Programme cornerstone mission that will position a satellite at the fifth Lagrangian point (L5) with the objective of performing continuous observations of the Sun, and the space between the Earth and the Sun, to provide measurement data for space weather nowcasting and forecasting and for event-based warnings and alerts of solar events. The observations from L5 will complement space weather monitoring from the Sun-Earth line and enable more accurate space weather impact predictions and early warnings of the emergence of potentially hazardous solar weather conditions. ESA is cooperating on space weather monitoring with the US (NOAA and NASA) which is planning to continue maintaining operational space weather monitoring on the Sun-Earth line through missions to the first Lagrangian point (L1) and with instruments on-board satellites orbiting the Earth. 

You will report to the Head of the Space Safety Programme Office within the Directorate of Operations.


Your tasks and responsibilities will include:

  • ensuring, as a goal, that the maximum operational and scientific return from the Vigil mission is achieved throughout the study, development, operations and archiving phases within technical, financial, programmatic and safety constraints; 
  • working in coordination with the ESA Space Weather Office to:
    • ensure that the Vigil Mission, Vigil Mission requirements, is fit for purpose with respect to the required/target return;
    • ensure the coherence of traceability, apportionment and justification of requirements between the Space Weather System and the Vigil Mission requirements;
  • coordinating the definition and refinement of scientific and operational requirements with the corresponding Mission Advisory Group (MAG) and/or Payload Advisory Group (PAG) and monitoring their implementation during all phases;
  • coordinating, together with the MAG/PAG, the analysis of the impact on scientific and operational products of any deviations in the instrument performance from that specified in the Vigil Mission Requirements Document (MRD); in this context, the Mission Scientist is supported by the Mission/Payload Advisory Groups in discharging their responsibilities;
  • management of the Vigil Space Segment mission requirements and maintenance of the Vigil Mission Requirements Document (MRD); 
  • acting as the interface for all Vigil related scientific matters between internal study, development, and operations teams and external scientific teams and the space weather community;
  • coordinate interfacing with the ESA Space Weather Service Network with the Space Weather Service Coordinator;
  • convening and co-chairing or chairing the advisory groups (MAG/PAG);
  • preparing and disseminating relevant scientific documentation and reporting to ESA management and interfacing with the advisory structure (MAG/PAG);
  • with the aid and support of the MAG, promoting the mission to the wider space weather community through conferences and electronic means, and supporting broader Directorate and Agency communications, outreach and education activities;
  • maintaining personal scientific research activity, to ensure up-to-date knowledge and credibility at individual and departmental level with respect to the external scientific community; 
  • in cooperation with the Space Weather Office, assessing the maturity of the mission throughout its nominal lifetime using the science readiness levels in order to scope and/or adjust support activities and supporting the Vigil Science Plan:
    • establishing and implementing the science activities (identified in the Science Plan) that need to be conducted throughout the mission nominal lifetime to meet the mission requirements and to achieve the mission objectives as defined in the MRD;
    • preparing the inputs to the development of the mission Level 1 data processing algorithms and preparing the data user community for the mission data exploitation, for example by running data utilisation studies supporting this development where needed in accordance with the Vigil Science Plan;
  • supporting the Mission Manager during Phase E2 to ensure that:
    • the mission data are fully exploited such that mission requirements are met;
    • mission objectives are achieved within the nominal mission lifetime;
    • algorithms and data products evolve;
    • new operational data products are developed;
    • feedback is gathered from the mission exploitation phase that may be useful for the preparation of future missions.

Technical competencies

Strong scientific understanding of heliophysics, magnetosphere/ionosphere physics and Sun-Earth interaction

Knowledge of space projects, including space-based space weather instrumentation and measurement techniques

Knowledge of space weather data processing for operational models, particularly for space weather services, nowcasting and forecasting

Heliophysics or space weather scientific research experience and established contact with the European heliophysics and scientific community would be an asset

Knowledge of ground-based space weather observations would be an asset

Behavioural competencies

Result Orientation
Operational Efficiency
Fostering Cooperation
Relationship Management
Continuous Improvement
Forward Thinking


A PhD in the field of space physics or space environment modelling is required for this post.

Additional requirements

Particular importance will be attached to your experience and ability to coordinate and manage external scientific and industrial teams conducting studies and model development activities, to communicate, and to behave with tact, diplomacy and discretion.

You should be familiar with the current state-of-the-art in space weather or heliophysics research or the development of operational space weather applications.

A vision of how the European and international space weather service landscape will look in 5 - 10 years will be considered an asset.

Strong problem-solving skills to deal with day-to-day operational challenges, together with demonstrated planning and organisational skills, as well as good communication skills will be considered an asset.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusiveness 
ESA is an equal opportunity employer, committed to achieving diversity within the workforce and creating an inclusive working environment. We therefore welcome applications from all qualified candidates irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, beliefs, age, disability or other characteristics. Applications from women are encouraged.

At the Agency we value diversity, and we welcome people with disabilities.  Whenever possible, we seek to accommodate individuals with disabilities by providing the necessary support at the workplace.  The Human Resources Department can also provide assistance during the recruitment process. If you would like to discuss this further, please contact us via email at

Important Information and Disclaimer
In principle, recruitment will be within the advertised grade band (A2-A4). However, if the selected candidate has less than four years of relevant professional experience following the completion of the master’s degree, the position may be filled at A1 level.

Applicants must be eligible to access technology and hardware which is subject to European and US export control regulations.

During the recruitment process, the Agency may request applicants to undergo selection tests. Additionally, successful candidates will need to undergo basic screening before appointment, which will be conducted by an external background screening service, in compliance with the European Space Agency's security procedures.

Note that ESA is in the process of transitioning to a Matrix setup, which could lead to organisational changes affecting this position.

The information published on ESA’s careers website regarding working conditions is correct at the time of publication. It is not intended to be exhaustive and may not address all questions you would have. 


Nationality and Languages 
Please note that applications can only be 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, the United Kingdom and Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia. 

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*. When short-listing for an interview, priority will first be given to internal candidates and secondly to external candidates from under-represented Member States*. 

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.  

*Member States, Associate Members or Cooperating States.



Image credit: ESA/Science Office

We are the European Space Agency (ESA). Our mission is the peaceful exploration and use of space for the benefit of everyone. We watch over Earth, develop and launch inspiring and unique space projects, train astronauts and push the boundaries of science and technology, seeking answers to the big questions about the universe. We are a family of scientists, engineers and business professionals from all over Europe working together in a diverse and multinational environment. We are dedicated to united space in Europe and united Europe in space. 

Why work for us
Are you enthusiastic, curious, a team player and eager to work in an international setting? With its 22 Member States and more than 2700 staff members working across Europe in nine different locations, ESA is the only space agency of its kind and a unique place to work. Joining ESA means working together on pioneering missions in a diverse and friendly environment with great benefits as well as numerous services and activities provided on site.

Training and development
Once you become an ESA employee, you will have access to a wide range of courses on many different topics as well as the opportunity to exchange and network with experts and other colleagues.

Graduate schemes
There are six entry-level and research programmes open to students and recent graduates who are nationals of ESA Member States or Cooperating States:

  • Student Internships are open to students still enrolled at university. Priority is given to Master’s students, but Bachelor’s students can also apply. Applications open in November each year.
  • The Young Graduate Trainee Programme is open to recently graduated Master’s students. Applications open in February each year.
  • National Trainee Programmes are offered to Master’s graduates through bilateral agreements between ESA and certain participating countries. Selection rounds are announced and managed by those countries. 
  • The Junior Professional Programme is designed for Master’s graduates with 2–3 years of professional experience. Selections take place every three years with the next one planned for 2024/2025.
  • Researchers can apply to ESA for co-funding for space-related PhD and postdoc research activities. Apply all year round at
  • The Research Fellowship Programme accepts applications from postdocs. Vacancies are published throughout the year, except for the Research Fellowships in Space Science, which open for application in August each year.

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Who we are looking for
ESA offers a number of entry-level programmes targeting students (Master or PhD), recent graduates and young professionals alongside its vacancies for experienced professionals. One of them could be your path to space! In line with our core business as a space science and technology organization, most ESA staff positions are in engineering and scientific disciplines. However, we also recruit for the business support services that are essential in helping us to achieve our goals.

France, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, UK

Number of employees

Main areas of research
All engineering and science disciplines related to the space sector are covered at ESA but also more. Check out our main website and our Science page to find out what we are doing. You may be surprised by the domains we cover and find something there for you too

Desired degree disciplines/class
The majority of professional roles at ESA require a Master as a minimum. For specific vacancies, a PhD may be necessary

How to apply
Apply online at

Closing date
Vacancies are regularly published on our recruiting website. Most standard vacancies remain open for three weeks from the date of publication, while vacancies for specific programmes are usually open for four weeks and roster positions remain open for several months

Tel +33 01 53 69 76 54

Company info
ESA Headquarters
8-10 rue Mario Nikis
CS 45741
75738 Paris Cedex 15

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