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a senior comet scientist (M/F/X)



Start date
Deadline for applications
Job title description

The Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB) is hiring a senior scientist to join the Space Physics division.

Statute : Contractual
Start date : March 2021
Deadline for applications : January 15, 2021

Division, context

The Space Physics division of the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB) has been active in comet research for some time. Starting with our participation in the Rosetta/ROSINA mass spectrometer, and continuing today as we are exploiting the wealth of data obtained during ESA’s Rosetta mission to study the neutral coma gas. At the same time, we are interested in the comet’s plasma environment, given our heritage in space plasma physics and instrumentation.

Currently we are part of the instrument team for ESA’s Comet Interceptor mission. To further strengthen our activities in this field, we are looking for a senior scientist (SW2 level).


The aim is to combine and develop expertise in the interpretation of in situ measurements of the electromagnetic field, the plasma, the neutral gas and the dust environment of comets. On the one hand, this senior scientist position shall continue to build on the legacy of the Rosetta data analysis. On the other hand, the goal is to assist with the elaboration of the Comet Interceptor DFP-COMPLIMENT instrument, the project management, the characterization of the environment that Comet Interceptor will experience during the comet flyby, and the multi-point and multi-channel data analysis.

Required competences
  • The ideal candidate holds a PhD in Science or Engineering.
  • Experience in relevant areas of astronomy and/or space plasma physics.
Technical skills
  • Creative and pragmatic problem-solving approach;
  • Demonstrated experience of presenting research results both orally and in writing;
  • Knowledge about comet science, astrochemistry, plasma physics, space instrumentation;
  • Experience with the interpretation of in situ (multi-)spacecraft data;
  • Experience in programming (Matlab, Python, C++ …) is a plus.
Generic skills
  • Fluent in written and spoken English;
  • Knowledge of French and/or Dutch is a plus;
  • Scientific curiosity;
  • Quick learner;
  • Team-oriented;
  • Capacity to interact with partners in a multi-lingual environment.
Offer and benefits
  • Dynamic working atmosphere with international contacts.
  • Pleasant work environment in a scientific institution located in a green setting in Uccle, Brussels.
  • The position is on a contractual basis. Salary is according to the federal regulations for scientific contractual personnel on scale SW2.
  • Flexible schedule within the 38 hours week
  • Attractive annual leave policy (minimum 26 days by year)
  • Full refund of commuting expenses when using public transportation, compensation when using the bicycle
  • All relevant work experience (public + private sector) will be considered when determining seniority.
  • Possibility to acquire a bonus for bilinguism (Dutch/French)
  • Possibility of training (to be followed during working hours)
  • Possibility to work from home
  • Access to special advantages arranged for the employees of the federal scientific institutions : museum card, hospitalization insurance, reductions via the Fed + card, etc.
  • Company restaurant with reasonably priced hot meals and salad bar.
  • On-site childcare during school holidays in July and August.

After evaluation of the application letters, the selected candidates will be invited for an interview, or a teleconference.


Please send your CV and motivation letter, and if possible two or three references (all in PDF-format), with the reference “D10_Comet” to:


Deadline for applications : January 15, 2021

Comet Borelly
More about BIRA-IASB

The Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB) is a Belgian Federal Scientific Institute.

Since its founding in 1964, BIRA-IASB has been conducting research and providing public services in space aeronomy, i.e. the physics and chemistry of Earth's atmosphere and other planets, and outer space.

Our scientists use instruments on the ground, in the air, on board balloons or in space and computer models.