European Space Agency (ESA)

Young Graduate Trainee (Hardware Development for Planetary Exploration Tools)

European Space Agency (ESA)

Job Description


Young Graduate Opportunity in the Directorate of Human and Robotic Exploration Programmes


ESA is an equal opportunity employer, committed to achieving diversity within the workforce and creating an inclusive working environment. We therefore welcome applications from all qualified candidates irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, beliefs, age, disability or other characteristics. Applications from women are encouraged.


This post is classified F1 on the Coordinated Organisations’ salary scale.



EAC, Porz-Wahn, Germany


Our team and mission

The Space Training CAVES & PANGAEA team is based at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC).


EAC’s task is to focus on the ”human” component of human spaceflight: astronaut selection, training and medical support and surveillance, as well as support for astronauts and their families in preparation for and during space missions to the International Space Station (ISS).


The CAVES & PANGAEA team specialises in training programmes that equip astronauts and mission developers with scientific, expeditionary and behavioural skillsets for current and future space exploration. The group’s primary output is focused on two training programmes:

  • CAVES (Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behaviour and performance Skills) reinforces astronauts’ human performance and behavioural skills for exploration tasks through an expedition into a natural cave system. Cave systems present environments and situations very similar to spaceflight, making them ideal for this type of training.
  • PANGAEA (Planetary ANalogue Geological and Astrobiological Exercise for Astronauts) is a geological and astrobiological field training course for astronauts and mission developers. It develops fundamental knowledge and skills in these disciplines, as well as observational and decision-making skills, by teaching astronauts how to identify important geological features in the field, conduct efficient sampling and effectively communicate with scientists on Earth.


The CAVES & PANGAEA team has been working on several tools to enhance these training programmes and support the next phases of human spaceflight to planetary surfaces. This includes the Electronic Field Book (EFB) suite of tools to support scientific field activities. This suite of tools is composed of software running on tablets and laptops that interface with external instruments, such as COTS spectrometers, 360° cameras, microscopes and bespoke 3D-printed hardware, to gather scientific information in the field and then distribute it to mission support elements. The EFB incorporates the PANGAEA mineralogical database and Machine Learning tools, which enable accurate mineral recognition from analytical tool data collected on Earth, the Moon, and Mars. The development and testing of these tools during CAVES and PANGAEA has branched into several studies and industrial contracts, with work now under way to develop a range of capabilities for the next generation of missions to the Moon and Mars.


You are encouraged to visit the ESA website: and


Field(s) of activity/research for the traineeship

As a Young Graduate Trainee, you will be integrated into the CAVES & PANGAEA project team supporting the development, testing and maintenance of tools for planetary exploration, centred around the EFB tools suite. You will work on a range of tools for current training activities and for supporting technological development for future surface and subsurface planetary exploration.


You will be involved in the following activities:

  • Designing enclosures in CAD for 3D printing;
  • Circuit Design and soldering of circuits for prototype equipment;
  • Assembly and testing of prototype equipment;
  • Contributing to advancing the EFB tools suite for CAVES & PANGAEA;
  • Supporting technical reviews of projects related to the advancement of human technologies and tools for lunar exploration;
  • Supporting the execution of CAVES & PANGAEA field training and test campaigns;
  • Managing the inventory of the EFB tools suite and electronic equipment;
  • Preparing and maintaining documentation, operating instructions and user training.

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

Result Orientation

Operational Efficiency

Fostering Cooperation

Relationship Management

Continuous Improvement

Forward Thinking


You should have just completed, or be in the final year of your master’s degree in in electronic engineering, mechanical engineering, physics or a similar technical or scientific field.

Additional requirements

Experience in the design and construction of prototype devices, including enclosures and electronics, is highly desirable. This experience may have been acquired as part of a university degree, internships or work experience, or through personal projects. Experience using Raspbian or other Debian-based operating systems, and with the Raspberry Pi platform, would be beneficial.

The specific requirements for this traineeship are:

  • practical experience in hand-soldering for construction of prototype equipment;
  • experience in CAD design and 3D printing, ideally with Autodesk Fusion 360;
  • familiarity with Arduino systems and ESP32s;
  • experience collaborating on projects remotely;
  • proficiency in using Microsoft Office packages.


You should have good interpersonal and communication skills and should be able to work in a multicultural environment, both independently and as part of a team.

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.

During the interview, your motivation and overall professional career goals will also be explored. 

Other information

For behavioural competencies expected from ESA staff in general, please refer to the ESA Competency Framework.


For further information on the Young Graduate Programme please visit: Young Graduate Programme and FAQ Young Graduate Programme


At the Agency we value diversity and we welcome people with disabilities. Whenever possible, we seek to accommodate individuals with disabilities by providing the necessary support at the workplace. The Human Resources Department can also provide assistance during the recruitment process. If you would like to discuss this further please contact us 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 Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia, as  Associate Member States, or Canada as a Cooperating State, can apply as well as those from Bulgaria and Cyprus 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*. When short-listing for an interview, priority will first be given to candidates from under-represented or balanced 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 conducted by an external background screening service. 

*Member States, Associate Members or Cooperating States.

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