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Uni Bern: Research Associate position

Research Associate position
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 participates in several civilian space debris tracking networks such as the International Scientific Optical 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.


  • 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 integration and tests
  • Perform hands-on tests and experiments in Zimmerwald
  • Assist in education of bachelor and master and PhD students

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 optical 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 planning, data acquisition and processing of space debris observations for the Zimmerwald Observatory and for the ESA's 1m telescope in Tenerife/Spain.


  • University degree (PhD or master or equivalent) in astronomy, physics, mathematics, aerospace engineering, space 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, weekends).
  • Fluent English

We offer

The University of Bern is an equal opportunity employer and encourages in particular women to apply for open positions. The initial contract will be limited to one year, with the option to extend the contract after the first year.

The salary follows the guidelines of the University of Bern and depends on the qualification of the successful candidate. Applications (including CV, University diploma copies, possible reference) should be received until April 15th, 2020.

Prof. Dr. Thomas Schildknecht
Head of the Optical Astronomy Group
Phone ++41 31 631 8594
University of Bern
Sidlerstrase 5
CH-3012 Bern