Optics Engineer

ESO - European Southern Observatory

Optics Engineer

ESO - European Southern Observatory - Chile

Paranal, Chile

The European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries.

ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in northern Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor (home to ALMA and APEX), and the ESO Headquarters are located in Garching, near Munich, Germany.

At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world's most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory, and will host and operate the southern array of the Cherenkov Telescope Array, the world’s largest and most sensitive high energy gamma-ray observatory. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, ESO is building the 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), which will become "the world's biggest eye on the sky" and whose operations will be fully integrated into the Paranal Observatory.

For its Maintenance, Support, and Engineering Department, within the Directortate of Operations, at the La Silla Paranal Observatory, near Antofagasta, Chile; ESO is advertising an International Staff member position of Optics Engineer.

The Optics Group is comprised of 12 engineers and technicians and is responsible for the main optical systems and their maintenance like telescope mirror alignment andrecoating at the Paranal Observatory (and as support for the La Silla Observatory). The group is responsible for 'Maintenance in Conditions of Operations' (MCO) of all Telescopes optics (including Adaptive Optics systems, VLTI delay lines, etc), and for MCO of opto-mechanical labs.

For further information about working at ESO, see the podcast "Engineers at ESO" at: https://www.eso.org/public/videos/esocast186a/.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

The successful candidate will have the following main duties:

As optics engineer, within the Paranal Optics Group and responsible for telescope optics:

  • Align and maintain the optical alignment of the telescopes (and VLTI);
  • Lead and check optical performance of the telescopes after coatings and critical maintenance, and realign the systems if necessary;
  • Ensure the availability of the telescope optics to minimize technical downtime by performing maintenance activities (corrective and preventive) and obsolescence analysis;
  • Lead root cause analysis, recovery plans and write related reports and procedures;
  • Propose and implement change requests (analysis, design, implementation, commissioning, documentation);
  • Ensure that the documentation (manuals, procedures …) related to the job are up to date;
  • Create all missing documents and training necessary for the activities;
  • Interact with other system MCO responsible, and with the Support and Quality Assurance group (for planning, spare parts availability, maintenance plan optimization, documentation and quality control);
  • Act as MCO responsible for some systems when requested, suggest and implement the KPI for the system under her/his responsibility.

As optics engineer, support activities:

  • Participate to the daily troubleshooting and corrective maintenance of telescopes according to the issues reported;
  • Participate in cross-discipline performance analysis and maintenance on telescopes;
  • Participate to the AIV of new systems and ensure the transfer of knowledge from project to MCO responsible;
  • Any critical Paranal observatory activities for which your competencies are requested by your manager.

Reports to:

The Optics Group Leader.


The ideal candidate has at least a few years of professional experience in one or more of these areas:

  • Preventive and corrective maintenance including troubleshooting large optical instruments or telescopes;
  • The field of astronomical or scientific instrument development and operations, including optical analysis, by using a variety of engineering tools and standard methodologies;
  • Assembly, integration, and verification of astronomical (ground or space) telescopes;
  • Manufacturing and adjusting telescopes.

Knowledge and experience, theoretical and practical, in at least three of the following domains will be an asset:

  • Optical design and analysis (optical quality and straylight);
  • Optical alignment and verification;
  • Opto-mechanical design, analysis, and integration;
  • Use of metrology equipment in the field of optics (Interferometers, laser trackers, spectrometers…);
  • Producing coatings (technologies of sputtering, evaporation …);
  • Active optics and wave front sensors.

Key Competences:

  • Ability to understand the 'big picture' and the details of complex systems, their interfaces, and their performance;
  • Ability to troubleshoot and solve problems under difficult working conditions and with tight deadlines;
  • Real interest to learn operational, maintenance and trouble-shooting strategies and techniques derived from the industry, for example Lean, 5S, MCO;
  • Analytical skills to evaluate performance or troubleshoot issues using metrology from various sensors;
  • Having a fine grasp of practical work, in particular for optical alignment or AO calibration;
  • Strong sense of team spirit with the ability to work effectively in a multi-national and multi-cultural environment;
  • Good self-organization;
  • Constructively suggest improvements to work processes;
  • Plan effectively and monitor progress of work, deliver results on time and to standards;
  • Some project management skills and experience would be an asset to execute small improvement projects.


University degree in physics, optics, engineering or astronomy. Specialisation in the field of astronomical instrumentation and/or system engineering, or equivalent, is desirable.

Language Skills:

ESO is an international organization where the official language is English. It is required that the candidate has a good command of written and spoken English. Good knowledge of Spanish would be an asset.

Remuneration and Contract:

We offer an attractive remuneration package including a competitive salary (tax free), comprehensive pension scheme and medical, educational and other social benefits, as well as financial help in relocating your family, if needed.

ESO aims to support members of personnel in maintaining a good work-life balance (https://www.eso.org/public/jobs/conditions/intstaff/#work-life-balance) between their professional and private life. ESO is also committed to offering family-friendly support (https://www.eso.org/public/jobs/conditions/intstaff/#familyfriendly-support), creating a work environment and policies which allow staff to balance their professional and private responsibilities through flexible working arrangements and financial support for families.

The contract is for a fixed term duration of three years, and is subject to successful completion of the probation period. There may be a possibility of extension(s) subject to individual performance and organisational requirements, in particular for the ELT Programme, and as defined in the applicable policies and staff rules and regulations. For any further information, please visit ESO's conditions of employment. Please note that the contract policy and in particular the regulations concerning fixed-term and indefinite contracts are currently under review which may lead to changes in the contractual conditions applicable to this position.

Duty Station:

Paranal Observatory located 120 km south of the city of Antofagasta, Chile. The working schedule will be 8 days on duty and 6 days off duty (8x6) with accommodation provided on site, after a short initial period of 5 days on duty and 2 days off (5x2).

Career Path: V


If you are interested in working in areas of frontline technology and in a stimulating international environment, please visit (http://www.eso.org) for further details.

Applicants are invited to apply online at http://recruitment.eso.org/. Applications must be completed in English and should include a motivation letter and CV. Within your CV, please provide the names and contact details of three persons familiar with your work and willing to provide a recommendation letter upon request. Referees will not be contacted without your prior consent.

Deadline for applications is 8 October 2022.

Interviews are expected to start soon after this date.

ESO Values:

An important element in any successful employment relationship is harmony in values between an organisation and its people.

The ESO Values are:

ESO strives for excellence through innovation.

ESO provides outstanding services to its communities.

ESO fosters diversity & inclusion.

ESO believes in the key role of sustainability for its future.

Achieving the above are recognized as only possible on the basis of personal values and attitudes that we expect from our employees: respect, integrity, accountability, commitment, collaboration, and clear & open communication.

Applicants to any ESO role are asked to reflect on their affinity with these values and advised they may be asked about them if called for interview.


ESO has established diversity as an important value of the Organisation, is committed to providing an equal opportunities environment and is actively seeking to promote a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce.


No nationality is in principle excluded from employment at ESO, however, recruitment preference will be given to nationals of our Member States, host states and strategic partners: Australia, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Chile, irrespective of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity or religion.

Don't forget to mention EuroEngineerJobs when applying.

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© EuroJobsites 2022

EuroJobsites is a registered company number: 4694396 VAT number: GB 880 9055 04

Registered address: EuroJobsites Ltd, Unit 8, Kingsmill Business Park, Kingston Upon Thames, London, KT1 3GZ, United Kingdom

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