Research Fellowships in Space Science 2018, Spain and Netherlands


October 02, 2017


Opportunity Cover Image - Research Fellowships in Space Science 2018, Spain and Netherlands


The ESA Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Programme is aimed at providing scientists in the early stages of their career, holding a PhD or the equivalent degree, with the means to perform research in space science. The programme is open to suitably qualified applicants who have completed their PhD (or equivalent) or will have completed it by the start of the fellowship (autumn 2018). Preference will be given to applications submitted by candidates within five years of receiving their PhD.

About 8 positions shall be offered for this call, shared between ESAC (Spain) and ESTEC (Netherlands).


The Research Fellow Programme is open to nationals 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, the UK, and Canada; Bulgaria, Latvia, Slovakia and Slovenia as European Cooperating States (ECS).

Appointments for an ESA research fellowship are for two years, with a possible third year extension. The fellowship in space science is tenable at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, or at the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) in Villafranca del Castillo near Madrid, Spain.

The Fellowship Programme does not currently grant fellowships in institutions outside of ESA.


As part of their mandate, the Scientific Support Office at ESTEC and the Science Operations Department at ESAC conduct research programmes covering many areas of space science. These research activities are coordinated by the ESA Science Faculty, a body made up by the scientists in both places. Research Fellows are encouraged to participate in these programmes, which are led by the scientific staff (with the appropriate engineering, technical and administrative support). Research Fellows are in principle fully dedicated to scientific research and have no functional duties. However they may choose to spend up to 20% of their time on scientific activities in support of an ESA mission. Additionally they encouraged to take an active part in the scientific life of the establishments.

The research projects proposed by applicants for an ESA Fellowship should be related to ESA's scientific missions, to the space research programmes of the ESA member states or to the scientific activities of the ESA Science Faculty. A brief summary of the research activities carried out by Faculty members can be found :

  • For ESAC on the ESAC research areas page and the ESAC Faculty research groups web page
  • For ESTEC on the ESTEC faculty research and the ESTEC research programme overview page.

Candidates should consult these pages to identify which of the two establishments offers the most relevant environment for the candidate’s research proposal and to identify one or more staff members who could act as mentors. While certain research programmes can be pursued at both centres, in most cases the location of the mentor defines where a fellowship can be held.

Candidates are strongly encouraged to contact the identified staff members to discuss their research proposals before submitting an application.


Fill in the online application form attaching to it uploading,your CV, your motivation letter and your research proposal. Your research proposal must clearly state:

  • Section 1: Title of Research Project (provide a short title for your research  project)

    Please make sure that you identify a staff member as a mentor. 

  • Section 2: Purpose of Fellowship at ESA (in about 250 words, give a very brief summary of your research programme and explain why it is relevant to ESA's science activities. In other words, why is it important that you do this at ESA?)
  • Section 3: Current and past research and future plans for the fellowship (use up to about 1500 words and a couple of figures, plus any references, to provide a detailed description of your current and proposed research)
  • Section 4: List of publications (list separately refereed and unrefereed papers, give authors, title and bibliographic reference but no abstract, unless the paper is unpublished)

For your research proposal, please use this Word template or this LaTeX template.

Take into account that applications wll be reviewed by a panel of space scientists who may not all be expert in your area. The evaluation criteria will be the scientific value of the proposal, the value for ESA, the realism and the productivity of the applicant.

Candidates must also arrange for up to three letters of reference to be sent by e-mail, before the deadline, to The letters must be sent by the referees themselves. The candidate's name must be mentioned in the subject of the email.

Applications satisfying the general conditions for eligibility, to be submitted by 2 October 2017,  will be evaluated and successful applicants will be invited for an interview.


Enquiries on the scientific aspects of the programme can be sent at any time to the fellowship coordinators.

Within six to eight weeks of the application deadline, candidates selected for an interview will be notified. Interviews will take place within two months.  Besides an interview, candidates are asked to give a short talk (15 min + 5 min for questions) to present their current and proposed research programme at a jamboree open to the whole science faculty.

During their visit, normally lasting two days, candidates are encouraged to interact with other fellows and staff members, to familiarise themselves with the ESA science faculty. Successful candidates will be notified by early February and normally fellowships commence in the autumn (September/October).

Note that it is required to have obtained a PhD before starting the fellowship.

For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.

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Publish Date
September 28, 2017
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