XMM Newton Operations Scientist [J 3161]



We have a great opportunity for a well-qualified astronomer who is experienced in space observatories and space borne instrument calibration to work for Telespazio VEGA onsite at ESAC.


The scientist will work in the XMM-Newton Users Support Group (USG) support the scientific users of the mission from proposal submission until the analysis of their data for scientific interpretation. The scientist must have strong background in astronomical research and excellent communication skills.

Responsibilities / Duties

The service is required to support any of the following tasks:

  • Support to the Observing Time Allocation Committee (OTAC): The OTAC reviews all incoming observation proposals and determines which observations should be assigned observing time.
  • Optimisation to the observations of accepted proposals: The USG scientists assist astronomers in optimising the set-up of the instruments to carry out the desired observation and assure the safety of the instruments.
  • Maintenance of user support documentation and helpdesk service: Users are kept informed about the status of the mission and about support services through extensive support documentation offered on the XMM-Newton web pages. A helpdesk service operates to assist individual users with queries.
  • Long-term mission planning: To ensure that all high priority observations are performed, a long term observing plan is maintained and regularly updated. This includes arranging coordinated observations with other observatories
  • The scheduling process and the scheduling of Targets of Opportunity: The USG scientists participate in the process of observation scheduling. They have to be able to support, or replace, the scientific scheduler. In case of special astronomical events the schedule of observations may have to be changed at short notice. Therefore one community support scientist must always be contactable, including outside normal office hours, through an on-call service. This task is organised on a rota.
  • Calibration and monitoring of the scientific instruments: The scientific instruments are calibrated regularly and their behaviour is monitored continuously by the SOC Instrument Dedicated Teams (IDT). The USG scientists participate in these IDT activities, this in turn helps them also to gain competence to help users interpret and understand their data.
  • Participation on the activities related to the systematic processing of all scientific mission data as they become available through a pipeline in order to produce high-level products of direct use by the scientific community and for ingestion the archive. In particular, the USG scientists are responsible for the quality control of the pipeline products.
  • Participation in the production and regular updating of the XMM-Newton source catalogues, most importantly in the definition of their content and in their scientific validation.
  • Provision of user requirements for the Science Archive, checking their implementation, monitoring and improving its performance and its use by the community and interacting with the Scientific Archives Team at ESAC, with the aim of maximizing the value of the XMM-Newton Science Archive, the tool for the astronomers to get access to the data and the main legacy from XMM-Newton to the astronomical community. This is done by provision of the Archive Scientist as one of the members of the USG, who shares this responsibility with other team responsibilities.
  • Performing scientific research using available scientific tools. The policy established within the XMM-Newton team for assigning time for research will be applied, as determined for all personnel, by ESA line management.

Qualifications / Experience

  • PhD. or equivalent in astrophysics, physics or mathematics or related field, in the later cases with an astrophysical orientation.

Essential Skills

  • Suitable candidates must have a strong background in astronomical research with a good record of science publications in the astronomical refereed literature and with part of those signed by the candidate as first author. A few years working in research institutes or universities at post-doctoral level will be an advantage, as well as experience in satellite operations, support to astronomers using space observatories and space borne instrument’s calibration. Experience in international working environments is desirable.
  • A scientific background in X-ray astronomy in particular and experience in analysis of X-ray data are required. Background in other astronomy areas will be an asset.
  • Suitable candidates should have a good command of commonly used astronomical software, like IDL, and of the XMM-Newton
  • Science Analysis Software and the X-ray specific software tools like XSPEC or FTOOLS in particular. Good knowledge of the XMM-Newton instruments is expected.
  • The candidate should be comfortable using computers and modern operating systems and have a background in developing small software programs to support the routine tasks of the group.


  • The selected candidate must be willing to operate in an international team environment.
  • Communication, relationship, management and teamwork competences are considered important for the post holder, together with good planning and organisational skills.
  • The engineer should be comfortable in an international working environment and be fluent in English, one of the official languages of ESA.

Further Details

All roles within Telespazio VEGA have a defined closing date, however if a successful candidate is found before the advert expires the role will be closed early. We would therefore advise any candidate to apply as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

Location of the position is ESAC, Near Madrid, Spain.

Closing Date for applications is 14th September 2018                                  


In line with Asylum & Immigration Legislation, all applicants must be eligible to live and work in the EU. Documented evidence of eligibility will be required from candidates as part of the recruitment process. Furthermore, in view of the nature of the work the company is in, all potential employees will undergo stringent reference and identity checks.

Click To Apply With CV in WORD format.  By clicking to apply you agree to your personal details being held and processed by Telespazio VEGA for the purpose of your application.

2018/08/10 11:38