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HomeEuropeESA's postdoctoral Research Fellowship Programme 2021/2022 for early-career scientists and engineers.

ESA’s postdoctoral Research Fellowship Programme 2021/2022 for early-career scientists and engineers.

Application Deadline: September 27th 2021

ESA’s postdoctoral Research Fellowship programme offers early-career scientists and engineers the possibility to carry out independent research in a variety of disciplines related to space science, space applications or space technology. ESA Fellowships provide a unique opportunity to work with scientists and engineers at the forefront of space science, and experience first-hand how ESA works with communities across the Member States to maximise the scientific return from our missions.

Research Fellowships in Space Science specifically offer the opportunity to contribute to ESA’s endeavour to explore our Solar System and the Universe in the fields of heliophysics, planetary science, astrophysics and fundamental physics.

Approximately 12 ESA Fellowships will be offered this year in Space Science, joining the pool of about 25 Research Fellows.

Duration: Appointments are for a maximum of three years. The initial project is for two years. An extension for a third year requires a dedicated proposal and is frequently granted.


Research Fellowships in Space Science (SCI) can be taken at any of three locations:


  • 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 Slovenia, as an Associate Member, or Canada as a Cooperating State, can apply as well as those from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia 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. 
  • Applicants should have recently completed, or be close to completing their PhD in a technical or scientific discipline. Preference will be given to applications submitted by candidates with up to five years of experience after their PhD.


Research expenses: publication charges, attendance of conferences, participation in observing campaigns and/or research visits, etc. for the ESA Research Fellows are covered by their department’s budgets.

Science Visitor Programme: Science Research Fellows have access to the Science Visitor Programme, funded by the ESA Faculty, allowing invitation of external collaborators to the ESA sites.

Student/trainee supervision: Research Fellows have various opportunities to request funding for and/or supervise undergraduate or masters-level student trainees, for example through ESA traineeship programmes or Leiden/ESA Astrophysics Program for Summer Students.

Additional research funding: as faculty members, Research Fellows are eligible to request funding through the faculty for activities requiring substantial additional funding (e.g. for hardware, organisation of conferences and workshops, etc.).

Mentorship Programme: as independent early-career researchers, Research Fellows are more in need of guidance than supervision. New fellows are thus invited to select a main mentor who will guide and support with general issues, including those not necessarily related to the direct research field. Mentors are especially meant to support fellows with their future orientation and job search. Any member of ESA science faculty can take over the role of the mentor, including ESA permanent staff and scientists with the contracting companies located within the Science and Operations department. Candidates are welcome and encouraged to contact any scientist of the Department as a prospective mentor prior to their application.

How to Apply

There is a single opening for all 12 positions. There are no pre-defined projects, applicants are invited to prepare an independent research proposal of a project based on their interests and expertise. To apply, please visit the application interface operated by Human Resources.

All ESA vacancy notices can be seen under:

Required application Materials:
Three documents will need to be uploaded:

  • A Cover/Motivation letter;
  • Your CV (including a list of publications and other accomplishments). For publications that are not first-authored, please indicate the individual contribution.
  • A research proposal (4 pages max. including any figures or tables, minimum font size 11pt). It is expected to include sections outlining (1) the research rationale, (2) impact and past achievements, (3) research plans for the fellowship (with rough time line), (4) synergies with mission-related activities and scientists at ESA.

Official Website: ESA’s postdoctoral Research Fellowship Programme



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