European Space Agency (ESA)

Young Graduate Trainee (Flight Dynamics Operations)

European Space Agency (ESA)

Job Description

EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY Young Graduate Traineeship Opportunity in the Directorate of Operations. ESA is an equal opportunity employer, committed to achieving diversity within the workforce and creating an inclusive working environment. Applications from women are encouraged. Post Young Graduate Trainee for Flight Dynamics Operations This post is classified F1. Location ESOC, Darmstadt, Germany Our team and mission The Flight Dynamics Division is responsible for providing mission Analysis and flight dynamics operations support to ESA missions in the fields of orbit determination, manoeuvre optimisation, GNC monitoring and commanding. This includes several interplanetary missions (BepiColombo), astronomy missions at the Sun-Earth Lagrangian Points (Euclid) and Earth orbit missions (Sentinels fleet). The support covers the entire mission life cycle, comprising Design, development, implementation and validation of SW tools, mission preparation and critical/routine Operational Activities proper. Candidates interested are encouraged to visit the ESA website: Field(s) of activity Space debris poses a continuously increasing risk to operational Earth observation satellites that has made in-orbit collision risk assessment an integral part of routine operations. This process requires as essential input the orbit state vector and associated accurate uncertainties from the flight dynamics system where orbit determination is performed through a least-squares fit of the dynamic model to observation data. However; often the resulting covariance matrix provides unrealistic uncertainties. This can be caused by un-modelled correlations between consecutive observations or missing considered parameters to take into account dynamic model errors. During the Traineeship you will investigate how more realistic error values can be obtained. First, this requires systematic assessment of the actual orbit determination uncertainties for multiple Earth observation satellites and typical orbit determination scenarios (high and low drag depending on solar activity and orbit determination with/without calibration of a manoeuvre) by comparison with precise orbit determination solutions or with those from different orbit determination arcs. Then, these uncertainties can be compared with covariance matrix data obtained from different orbit determination approaches which could be based on:
  • the decrease in the signal-to-noise ratio of the measurement errors through the use of underestimated weights on the data to achieve error whitening

  • or a reduction in the used observations for the covariance matrix calculation

  • introducing additional covariance terms into the estimator to consider the model parameters errors

Technical competencies Knowledge of relevant technical domains Relevant experience gained during internships/project work Breadth of exposure coming from past and/or current research/activities Knowledge of ESA and its programmes/projects Behavioural competencies Self Motivation Communication Continuous Learning Cross-Cultural Sensitivity Teamwork Education You should have just completed, or be in the final year of a university course at Master' level (or equivalent) in a technical or scientific discipline. In particular in engineering, physics or mathematics. Additional requirements The education should have provided a solid knowledge of mathematics, classical mechanics, orbit mechanics, as well as C++/Python programming skills. Familiarity with estimation theory and open source publishing is an advantage. The working languages of the Agency are English and French. A good knowledge of one of these is required. Knowledge of another Member State language would be an asset. You should demonstrate good interpersonal skills and the capacity to work both independently and as part of a team. During the interview your motivation and overall professional perspective/career goals will also be explored. Other information For behavioural competencies expected from ESA staff in general, please refer to the ESA Competency Framework. The closing date for applications is  15 December 2019. If you require support with your application due to a disability, please email Please note that 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). Priority will first be given to candidates from under-represented Member States. In accordance with the European Space Agency’s security procedures and as part of the selection process, successful candidates will be required to undergo basic screening before appointment
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