Head of Earth Observation Program (f/m)

Utrecht, The Netherlands, SRON [1538]

Field(s) of expertise
Aerospace Engineering Space Systems Engineering
Job type

About this job

SRON’s mission is to enable breakthroughs in international space research. It pursues this mission through the development of pioneering technologies, advanced space instruments, and world-leading research in astrophysics, exoplanets, and Earth science. SRON provides scientific and technological contributions to international space missions as well as expertise and support to the Dutch and international scientific communities. As the national expertise center for space research, SRON works in close collaboration with governmental agencies, Dutch universities, other national knowledge institutes, and industrial partners to pursue a cohesive agenda for space-based research. SRON also works to promote awareness and increased utilization of space research in our society.

The SRON Earth observation program is central to the mission of the Institute and of the utmost importance to society in an era of changing climate. The scientific evidence that human activity is contributing to the observed warming trend in the Earth’s climate continues to grow. Data streams from space-based instruments are some of the most powerful tools we have as a society to combat this global challenge and are essential to understanding the mechanisms driving climate change. They also provide policy makers with the ability to monitor and evaluate possible solutions. At SRON, we are committed to helping provide the international research community with the capabilities it needs to improve our understanding of the Earth system and predict future change.

We are seeking a creative scientist with excellent leadership skills to maintain the ideal balance of scientific expertise and instrument development that defines the SRON Earth observation program as well as provide a vision for this program in the coming decade.


SRON Earth Observation program

The SRON Earth program focuses on space born remote sensing of atmospheric constituents addressing the global carbon cycle (in particular the trace gases CH4, CO2, and CO) and aerosols, and the interpretation of the data in terms of processes fundamental for climate and air quality. This focus has led to SRON initiatives and contributions to international Earth Observation programs, in particular within the framework of ESA, the EC, and NASA, providing unprecedented diagnostic information for improving our understanding of the Earth system. SRON activities in this area include both fundamental research as well as development of space-borne instruments such as the TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) onboard the Copernicus Sentinel-5 satellite. The SRON Earth program includes contributions to the full project cycle of space-borne Earth observation, in which collaboration with industry, institutes, and academia is essential.

The Earth Observation program consists of members of the Earth Science Group attached to the program as well as instrument scientists and engineering staff assigned to the program on a long-term basis depending on the current project portfolio. At any given time, the program incorporates various instrumentation projects, scientific projects, and studies in various phases of the project life cycle from acquisition to data exploitation. The overall program currently includes about 50 staff of which about 20 are members of the science group, including permanent and temporary scientific staff as well as PhD students.

The Head of the SRON Earth Program is responsible for the design and overall execution of the program and is directly responsible for the scientists of the Earth Science Group. In coordination with the senior staff of the program and the SRON directorate, they define the policy and strategy of the Earth program within the international scientific and industrial communities. The Head of the Program oversees the execution of the science activities including acquisition of external funding, and ensures that the scientists are connected to and visible in international scientific space programs in line with the strategic objectives of the SRON Earth Observation program. The Head of the Earth Program also facilitates connections between scientists in the SRON Earth Science Group and the relevant Dutch university groups. The Head of the Program is a member of the SRON Management Team, which is responsible for the integral oversight of the institute,and reports directly to the SRON General and Scientific Director.


Desirable qualifications:

  • PhD in climate studies, planetary research, physics, astronomy or similar discipline.
  • Extensive experience in the field of Earth Observation, experience with spectroscopic instrumentation is especially desirable.
  • Experience with the oversight of large, international instrument projects from design to execution.
  • Experience with the acquisition of external national or international funding for instrument projects.
  • The ability to lead and manage a mixed team of researchers, instrument scientists, and engineers.
  • Experience in the personnel management of a group including staff mentoring and development.
  • The ability to act as the bridge between scientific and instrumentation communities.
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills.

SRON is committed to an inclusive and flexible workplace. We encourage applications from qualified applicants of all sexual orientations and gender expressions, members of visible minorities, persons with disabilities, and potential dual-academic-career hires.

Employment conditions:

Employment of this full-time position at SRON is by NWO-I (The Netherlands Foundation of Scientific Research Institutes) and will be for an initial period of 2 years after which the contract will become permanent. The salary will be in accordance with the salary scales of NWO-I with a maximum of €7.535,-gross per month on a full-time basis. NWO-I provides excellent additional employment benefits such as:

  • An end of year bonus of 8,33% of the gross yearly salary
  • 42 days of vacation leave a year on full-time basis
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross yearly salary
  • An excellent pension scheme
  • Options for (additional) personal development
  • Excellent facilities for parental leave

The successful candidate will be based at the main SRON headquarters in Utrecht, NL. These headquarters will be relocated to the Leiden University campus in the Spring of 2021.

For information on how the personal data in your application is processed, please see the SRON Privacy Policy.