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The Group for Optical Astronomy of the Astronomical Institute, University of Bern is inviting applications for a

PostDoc / Research Associate position

in the field of

Space Debris Research / Space Situational Awareness


The Optical Astronomy group of the Astronomical Institute of the University of Bern (AIUB) has a world-leading position in the domain of optical surveys and characterization of space debris. AIUB operates the Zimmerwald Observatory equipped with a 1-m multi-purpose astronomical telescope (ZIMLAT) and a small-aperture robotic survey telescope ZimSMART. AIUB partici-pates in several civilian space debris tracking networks such as the International Scientific Opti-cal Observation Network (ISON) and the DLR-AIUB network of small robotic telescopes SMARTnet. With its research focus on space debris, space surveillance, and space situational awareness (SSA), the group is deeply involved in various ESA-funded studies and performs space debris surveys with the ESA 1-m telescope at Tenerife on behalf of ESA.

Job description

The successful candidate will be responsible for the AIUB participation in ESA-funded studies on space debris, space surveillance and space situational awareness with major focus on opti-cal observations. He/she will be responsible for the preparation of the study proposal and for the project management. In addition he/she will be required to actively participate in the plan-ning, data acquisition and processing of space debris observations for the Zimmerwald Obser-vatory and for the ESA’s 1m telescope in Tenerife/Spain.

Main tasks

  • Active work on ESA studies on space debris, space surveillance and space situational awareness
  • Preparation and leading ESA studies, project management
  • Software engineering, including architecture and algorithm design, coding, software integra-tion and tests
  • Perform hands-on tests and experiments in Zimmerwald
  • Assist in education of bachelor and master and PhD students


  • University degree (PhD or master or equivalent) in astronomy, physics, mathematics, aero-space engineering, geodesy, or a similar discipline.
  • Proven experience of working in project-driven environments.
  • Demonstrated computer skills.
  • Capability to work independently and timely, as well as in small and large (geographically distributed) teams, enjoying to participate actively in meetings of international teams and to present complex research matter concisely and appealingly (oral and written).
  • Willingness to work occasionally according to astronomical constraints (nightshifts, week-ends).
  • Fluent English

Appointment: Open until filled
Application: August 31, 2017
Salary: Based on the regulations of the university and the canton of Bern
Contract: The initial contract will be limited to one year, with the option to extend the contract after the first year
Contact: Head of the Optical Astronomy Group, Prof. Dr. Thomas Schildknecht (Tel. 031 631 85 94, email, Office 209)