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Rover – Lander Interface System Engineer

European Space Agency - ESA Noordwijk-Binnen Full-time


Rover - Lander Interface System Engineer

Job Req ID: 17386

Closing Date: 14 March 2023 23:59 CET/CEST

Establishment: ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands

Directorate: Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality

Publication: Internal & External

Vacancy Type: Permanent

Date Posted: 21 February 2023

Vacancy in the Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality.

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 A2-A4 on the Coordinated Organisations’ salary scale.


ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands


Rover–Lander Interface System Engineer, in the Rover Unit of the ExoMars Team , Mars Exploration Group, Directorate of Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration Programmes, assigned as integrated support from the Systems Engineering Division, Systems Department, Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality.

The ExoMars Programme is one of the pillars of Terrae Novea, the European Exploration Envelope Programme, and of ESA’s planetary exploration strategy. Its main objective is to search for signs of past or present life on Mars. ESA needs to develop, qualify and implement all the technological capabilities required to meet this goal.

The programme comprises two missions. The Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), launched in March 2016, monitors the Mars atmosphere and surface and relays data to and from Earth. The Rover and Surface Platform mission, developed in cooperation with Roscosmos and NASA, was planned for launch on 20 September 2022 from Baikonur Cosmodrome. However, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the ESA Council took the decision in July 2022 to cancel the launch and terminate the cooperation with Roscosmos on the Rover Surface Platform mission.

In order to rescue the Rosalind Franklin Mission to Mars and prepare for launch at the earliest opportunity, a new mission scenario has been studied and is now being implemented in cooperation with NASA. The new launch is planned for October 2028 aboard a launch vehicle provided by NASA. The mission involves the development, testing and qualification of a new European entry, descent and landing module (EDLM) which is to land the already built Rosalind Franklin rover on Mars and which is to be transported to Mars by the carrier module, also already built.

Since the Rosalind Franklin rover will be delivered to the surface of Mars under different environmental conditions than those initially studied, potential design adaptations will need to be considered in addition to maintenance, refurbishment, and delta-verification activities.


If selected for the position, you, as Rover–Lander Interface System Engineer, will report to the Rover Team Leader in the ExoMars Project.

You will be responsible for the monitoring and control of the technical interfaces between the rover and the EDLM lander, including the verification of the integration and operational aspects, with specific focus on the rover deployment and egress mission phase

As such, you will be specifically responsible for ensuring compatibility of the existing Rosalind Franklin rover flight model with the new EDLM being developed for the Rosalind Franklin Mission for launch in 2028.

Within the project guidelines and constraints set, you will notably:

  • assume responsibility for all aspects related to the rover–lander interfaces (mechanical, electrical and thermal interfaces, environmental compatibility, and operational aspects), identifying and coordinating the activities at ESA- and industry-level for the definition, implementation and verification of congruent interfaces between rover and lander;
  • liaise with the EDLM Team System Engineers to ensure that the design and operational aspects of the lander systems are developed in full compliance with the existing rover design and applicable mission operational constraints;
  • support the Rover Team Leader and the Rover Performance System Engineer in identifying any impact on the rover’s current design and operational profile, and in assessing any design adaptation and verification needs that may arise;
  • monitor the correct implementation of required maintenance activities for the rover–lander interfaces, supporting the Rover Performance System Engineer in ensuring that the required system performances will actually be available at the time of the mission;
  • lead the drafting and maintenance of the Rover–Lander Interface Requirements documents,ensuring the proper flow-down to the industry consortium, and the proper implementation and verification of the requirements in the industry baseline documentation;
  • coordinate with the NASA-JPL Interface and Launch Service Interface System Engineer on the procurement of the US RHUs and their timely delivery to the industrial prime, in accordance with the rover system requirements and rover–RHU interface specifications;
  • support the definition, implementation and verification of the rover operational interfaces with the EDLM systems in close coordination with the Rover Operations System Engineer, in particular regarding the rover deployment and egress phase, and the control of the execution of these operations during the mission;
  • participate in periodic meetings with the parent division (TEC_SY), contributing to the transfer of technical knowledge and lessons learned across the Agency.

Duties (continued)

As part of your duties, and within the same team structure and reporting line, you will also support the exploitation activities of the integrated breadboard (IBB) developed in the scope of the Sample Fetch Rover (SFR) project. The enhanced SFR IBB is intended for the integration of rover technology systems (mobility, navigation and robotic arm operations) and the performance verification associated with field tests. These activities are conducted in support of the ExoMars Rosalind Franklin Mission and future planetary exploration activities. The breadboard is currently in an early version (on three increments) and is being tested in the UK. Your responsibilities will include:

  • the coordination of industry activity for the integration of planned IBB upgrades and the completion of the breadboarding activities by mid-2024;
  • the collection and archiving of the corresponding data from industry;
  • the provision of acquired know-how and lessons learned to the Rosalind Franklin Mission and future planetary missions;
  • the delivery of the upgraded IBB (IBB3) to ESA.

When performing these duties, you will be assisted by and manage specialist engineers from the Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality, as well as benefiting from available expertise within the project.

Technical competencies

Experience in mission, spacecraft and/or payload operations

Experience in Space Systems Interfaces design, development, and verification

Experience in Spacecraft AIV/AIT activities

Knowledge of the associated ESA review processes and standards

Experience in monitoring industrial activities, including participation in reviews

Experience in technical reviews

Project risk management processes

Management and review of complex system performance budgets

Behavioural competencies

Result Orientation

Operational Efficiency

Fostering Cooperation

Relationship Management

Continuous Improvement

Forward Thinking


A master’s degree in engineering is required.

Additional Requirements

Experience in spacecraft systems engineering, rover system design and Mars mission definition is required. Specific experience in the development and/or operations of a planetary rover mission would be an asset.

You should also have:

  • proven experience in project development/implementation Phase (B/C/D/E) for space applications (at least five years).

In the execution of your duties, you will be required to demonstrate:

  • a strong sense of responsibility;
  • the ability to anticipate, manage and solve issues in your domain in an autonomous fashion, with the appropriate level of reporting towards the Rover Team Leader;
  • proactivity within the team and in your day-to-day work with industry;
  • the ability to establish good relationships within the project team, as well as with your counterparts in industry and NASA and the entities interfacing with the ExoMars ESA team.

Competencies and experience in digital electronics and computer science would be an asset.

Other Information

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

For further information please visit: Professionals, What we offer and FAQ

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.

The Agency may require applicants to undergo selection tests.

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, the United Kingdom and Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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 internal candidates and secondly to external 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.

Recruitment will normally be at the first grade in the band (A2); however, if the candidate selected has little or no experience, the position may be filled at A1 level.

  • Member States, Associate Members or Cooperating States.

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