German Trainee Programme

Space Surveillance and Tracking

Starting date

1 February 2018

Duration of contract

12-24 months


attractive scholarship

Your mission:

Have you (almost) completed your degree studies? Are you inspired by space exploration and keen to pursue a career in this exciting field? If so, perhaps you should take a closer look at the German Trainee Programme. Organised by DLR, it offers you the chance to work shoulder to shoulder with experts from the 22 member states of ESA – keeping your finger on the pulse of Europe‘s space programmes. Over a period up to 24 months, you will actively contribute to the latest research and/or technology projects. This is complemented by a generous scholarship. What better way to launch your career in international space business? The next GTP commences on 1 February 2018.

This is your opportunity to join the team at ESOC, Darmstadt, Germany
GTP-2018-OPS-L - Space Surveillance and Tracking

The objective of ESA’s Space Situational Awareness (SSA) programme is to support Europe's independent utilisation of, and access to, space through the provision of timely and accurate information, data and services regarding the space environment, and particularly regarding hazards to infrastructure in orbit and on the ground. The SSA programme will, ultimately, enable Europe to autonomously detect, predict and assess the risk to life and property due to remnant man-made space objects, re-entries, in-orbit explosions and release events, in-orbit collisions, disruption of missions and satellite-based service capabilities, potential impacts of Near Earth Objects, and the effects of space weather phenomena on space- and ground-based infrastructure.  
You will participate in the Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST) activities of the SSA Programme. SST is all about the ability to detect and predict the movement of space debris in orbit around the Earth. The data generated through an SST system can be used to actively protect infrastructure, such as Earth observation satellites or navigation systems, from colliding with the ever-increasing cloud of man-made space debris, and to predict re-entry events of satellites. SST data is also essential for assessing compliance with space debris mitigation rules and guidelines, and is used in spacecraft operations. See here for more information.
ESA's SSA Programme is managed by the Agency's Directorate of Operations, and the the SSA Programme Office is located at ESOC, the European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany. The programme receives crucial support from teams of engineers, scientists and experts located throughout the Agency and from partner agencies and organisations within ESA Member States. In addition, SSA activities receive crucial support provided by staff and industrial experts located at all major ESA Establishments who work in a wide range of functional areas. For the SST segment a very close collaboration with ESA’s Space Debris Office, also located at ESOC, has been established.


You will be involved in activities in the area of analyses on the status and future evolution of the SST segment of the SSA Programme. Any SST system can be considered to contain - in a very simplified way - a 'production line' for observation data, the processing chain building-up and maintaining a catalogue of orbital elements, and the derived SST applications. SST sensors, such as telescopes or radars, provide the needed information on the position and movement of Earth-orbiting objects.
You will focus on the sensor area and be assigned to update existing analysis S/W for the observation forecasting and sensor performance modelling, especially for new emerging ground-based and space-based observation technologies, and improved techniques. You will contribute analysing different architecture of SST systems. You will be able to contribute to developing further powerful and efficient data formats and exchange mechanisms in the SST area.
You will attend regular team meetings and support the coordination of activities within a group of experts on space debris matters within the scope of space surveillance and tracking. Through the Space Debris Office you may have the opportunity to be learn about operational support activities such as collision avoidance and re-entry predictions.

Please apply by 6 September 2017.

Your qualifications:

  • applicants should have a good knowledge of orbital mechanics, optical and radar sensor systems, and mathematics in general, should be familiar with UNIX/LINUX operating environments, and with scientific programming (e.g. programming in FORTRAN or Python)
  • a good experience in system and software engineering, a spirit for defining, organising and following up study work and proven documentation skills will be considered as an asset, as well as basic knowledge in project management
  • applicants should have good interpersonal and communication skills and should be able to work in a multi-cultural environment, both independently and as part of a team
  • German citizenship is absolutely necessary
  • applicants should have just completed (conclusion not older than two years) or be in their final year of a university course at Master’s level in a technical or scientific discipline
  • candidates must be fluent in English or French, the official languages of the agency

Your start:

We look forward to your e-mail application in English, citing GTP-2018-OPS-L to

Please visit the German Trainee Programme page for details of our application procedures. If you have any initial questions, please feel free to contact Ms. Larissa Seidlez:

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Technical contact

Larissa Seidlez

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Vacancy GTP-2018-OPS-L