Internal Research Fellow (PostDoc) in Earth Observation (EO) and Computer Science for Climate

Job Req ID:  17067
Closing Date:  7 December 2022 23:59 CET/CEST
Establishment:  ESRIN, Frascati, Italy
Directorate:  Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes
Publication:  External Only
Vacancy Type:  Internal Research Fellow
Date Posted:  9 November 2022


Internal Research Fellowship Opportunity in the Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes.


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.


This post is classified F2 on the Coordinated Organisations’ salary scale.


ESRIN, Frascati, Italy  

Our team and mission

Our mission at ESA Φ-lab is to accelerate the future of Earth observation (EO) by embracing innovation and transformative technologies in the EO sector.


Our vision at the Explore Office is to become a pathfinder to explore the power (and limitations) of new computer science technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), as well as new computing paradigms including quantum computing (QC), space edge learning (SEL) and neuromorphic computing to extract the most meaningful insight possible from EO data and enhance our resilience to global change.


Our wide and multidisciplinary field of interest lies at the intersection between EO innovation and computer science. Our AI4EO methodological focus includes:


  • big data analytics, time series analysis and multisensor data fusion;
  • computer vision and natural language processing (NLP);
  • new learning mechanisms including meta learning and graph neural networks;
  • hybrid computing paradigms, including edge, quantum and neuromorphic computing;
  • immersive visualisation with AI and virtual reality.


Our AI4EO application focus includes:


  • quantifying the impact of climate change and improving its prediction;
  • enabling digital simulations of the Earth to perform what-if scenarios for natural hazard mitigation and adaptation plans (e.g. floods, heatwaves, wildfires, droughts, etc);
  • assessing the impact of disease outbreaks and air quality on population health;
  • using novel EO solutions to enhance the resilience of our society to economic and food crises linked to climate change;
  • enabling better human-machine interaction to ease decision-making.


We offer:


  • a stimulating multinational and interdisciplinary open work environment;
  • access to high-performance computing infrastructure and dedicated EO and technology expertise;
  • a unique opportunity to work on innovative solutions to address global problems;
  • considerable freedom and focus to conduct creative research while making an impact;
  • a wide network of relationships and collaborations with top academia, industry and research centres.  


You are encouraged to visit the ESA website:

Field(s) of activity/research for the traineeship

Your tasks will be to:


  • foster the use of innovative AI4EO applications, e.g. to better understand the impact of climate change and predict climate change applications; 
  • explore the use of state-of-the-art AI techniques to enable the development of novel EO products and quantify their benefits compared to traditional methods;
  • develop and curate training data sets and tools to enable the user community to develop their own data sets and AI4Climate applications;
  • engage with the user ecosystem to promote the uptake of new tools and capture the latest developments in EO and digital technologies;
  • publish research project outcomes in high-impact journals;
  • drive collaboration with the EO science community to promote the uptake of these new techniques and solutions;
  • contribute to the broader research aims and challenges of Φ-lab, supporting its efforts to prototype innovative EO solutions rapidly, while contributing to team spirit at the Φ-lab and supporting its community.


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 on AI, computer science, machine learning, Earth system science, climate studies, geography or geospatial analytics/data science with the subject of your thesis being relevant to the description of the tasks outlined above.

Additional requirements

You should also have:


  • the ability to present findings of research activities to technical and lay audiences;
  • the ability to think outside the box and explore new avenues, with natural curiosity and a passion for new subjects and research areas;
  • the ability to lead high-quality research and publish in high-level journals, with international recognition;
  • the ability to work in a multicultural environment as part of a team;
  • experience with one or more general purpose programming languages (e.g. Python) and with general purpose deep-learning frameworks e.g. Tensorflow, PyTorch.


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.     

Other information

For behavioural competencies expected from ESA staff in general, please refer to the ESA Competency Framework.


For further information on the Internal Research Fellowship Programme please visit: Internal Research Fellowship


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.

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 at


Please note that applications are only 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, and the United Kingdom. Nationals from Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia, as Associate Member States, or Canada as a Cooperating State, can apply as well as those from Bulgaria and Cyprus as European Cooperating States (ECS).

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 candidates from under-represented or balanced Member States*.(


In accordance with the European Space Agency’s security procedures and as part of the selection process, successful candidates will be required to undergo basic screening before appointment conducted by an external background screening service. 

*Member States, Associate Members or Cooperating States.