ESA/AURA Astronomer

Job Summary

Scientific / Technical Staff
Space Telescope Science Institute
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement

Job Description

Astronomer positions are available at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA). The ESA Office at STScI provides scientific and technical personnel at STScI as part of ESA’s collaboration with NASA on the Hubble and Webb missions.

There are currently openings for astronomers to support HST or JWST science operations at STScI, funded by the ESA Directorate for Science, through a contract with AURA at STScI. These scientific positions are three-year term contracts, renewable, with salaries and benefits commensurate with those of AURA employees at STScI.

For HST, the ESA/AURA astronomer position will provide direct support to all major aspects of science operations. In general, functional duties encompass all activities associated with support of the instruments currently on board HST: WFC3, COS, ACS, STIS and FGS. These duties include, but are not limited to, support of the calibration, data reduction and analysis of HST data, on-orbit performance verification and monitoring of the health of the scientific instruments, direct support to the user community during the preparation, implementation and execution of the observing programs, and documentation.

For JWST, initial assignment for the ESA/AURA astronomer position will be in direct support of the JWST Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI). These duties include, but are not limited to, support of the calibration, data reduction and analysis of imaging and Integral Field Unit (IFU) data, on-orbit performance verification and monitoring of the health of the mid-infrared detectors, direct support to the user community during the preparation, implementation and execution of the observing programs, and documentation.

The primary qualifications we are seeking are excellence in observational or instrumental research in any area of astrophysics. Expertise with imaging, spectroscopy, or IFU data, and previous experience in science operations of astronomical space or ground observatories are considered key assets. For MIRI, experience in any of the following areas is an asset: mid-infrared detector characterization and calibration; data reduction and analysis of infrared imaging data, particularly in areas such as flux calibration, precision photometry or astrometry; or calibration, data reduction and analysis of IFU data. Knowledge of the MIRI instrument would be a plus.

For all positions, intermediate (or higher) level coding experience in Python is required, including: experience working with common libraries such as astropy, performing astronomical data reduction and analysis, jupyter notebooks, familiarity with object-oriented programming and collaborative coding practices such as Github. Experience working with the JWST or HST ecosystem of tools and packages, such as the Astronomers Proposal Tool, Exposure Time Calculator, and the JWST calibration pipeline, would be an advantage.

Astronomers spend 50% of their time providing functional support to the ESA-NASA partnered missions (HST or JWST) at STScI, and 50% of their time on personal research. Therefore, the successful candidates are expected to maintain an active program of research in astronomy, in addition to carrying out functional tasks related to the missions they support within STScI for ESA. Efforts are made to suitably match the background and experience of qualified candidates to current mission needs.

Candidates for these positions must have a Ph.D. or equivalent degree in astronomy or physics or related discipline, with a strong, established record of active, independent research and scientific publications, excellent technical skills, and demonstrated interpersonal and communication skills, in order to provide first-class support to the multi-faceted needs of our missions within STScI’s international environment.

Applications are encouraged from both junior and senior astronomers, as the experience and accomplishment of the successful applicants will determine the level of the appointment. As these positions are sponsored by ESA, applications from European researchers are encouraged.

STScI occupies multiple sites surrounding the campus of the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in Baltimore, MD. It maintains close connections with the JHU Physics and Astronomy Department and is a partner in both the Pan-STARRS and LSST consortia. STScI values diversity and has a research staff mentoring program and access to annual training programs. The research environment engages, stimulates and supports an international research staff with over 100 members. Research projects ( span a wide range of topics and include collaborations with postdoctoral researchers, research instrument analysts and JHU graduate students, as well as researchers from other institutions. Researchers lead the organization of annual workshops and larger-scale meetings, and participate in the activities of the very successful office of public outreach.

Applicants should submit the following materials in a single PDF file: 1) a cover letter, 2) a curriculum vitae and bibliography, and 3) a summary including current and future research interests and a description of their technical skills (maximum 3 pages). Candidates should take advantage of the cover letter to describe their particular interest in working for ESA at STScI and specify the preference for the HST or JWST position as relevant to them.


(Do not use the green "Apply Now" tab at the top right. Applications will ONLY be accepted through the link above.)

Applications received by March 15,2024 will receive full consideration. Position inquiries may be directed to: [email protected]

The diversity of the ESA and STScI staff enhances the dynamic and collegial atmosphere of our scientific community, and reflects our commitment to inclusivity in the broadest sense. Accordingly, women, minorities, veterans, and disabled individuals are strongly encouraged to apply for these positions.

As an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, STScI does not discriminate because of race, sex, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, lawful political affiliations, veteran status, or mental or physical handicap. Veterans, disabled or wounded warriors needing assistance with the employment process can contact us at [email protected]. Salaries and benefits are commensurate with those of AURA member universities.

Compensation and Benefits

Compensation Notes

Our Robust and Competitive Benefit Programs

Application Details

Publication Start Date
2024 Feb 02
Application Deadline
2024 Mar 15


Dawn Costigan