Project Manager (m/f/d) | Athena Wide Field Imager

Max Planck Institute for extraterrestrial Physics, Garching

Type of Job


Astronomy & Astrophysics Complex Systems

Job Code: 17/2022

Job offer from August 03, 2022

Applications are invited for the position of Project Manager (m/f/d) for the Athena Wide Field Imager in the High-Energy astrophysics group of the Max-Planck-Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) in Garching, led by Prof. K. Nandra.

MPE is a world-leading institute in space- and ground-based experimental astrophysics, with leading roles in a number of large astronomical projects. The High-Energy group at MPE carries out major space hardware programs, including the development of X-ray detectors and X-ray optics. The group has contributed significantly to Chandra and XMM–Newton and has more recently led the development of the eROSITA X-ray telescope, launched in 2019 aboard the SRG mission. The group is also involved in a number of ground-based projects in support of eROSITA, such as LSST, GROND, SDSS-V, 4MOST, mostly in support of our space programs.

The main future project of the MPE High Energy Group is ESA’s future observatory-class X-ray astronomy mission Athena. MPE is the lead Institute responsible for the Wide Field Imager (WFI), one of the two instruments aboard the mission, and leads the international consortium responsible for the WFI development The WFI camera itself is based on the unique Silicon DEPFET technology developed by the semiconductor laboratory of the Max Planck Society. This enables spatially and temporally resolved spectroscopy of X-ray photons in the energy range from 200 eV to 15 keV over a large field of view, with excellent energy resolution and fast readout.

Your responsibilities

The High Energy Group seek an experienced individual capable of the co-ordination and management of this complex international project, working in close collaboration with the other members of the WFI Project Office. The main responsibilities of the WFI Project Manager include:

  • Project direction and coordination
  • Definition of tasks and allocation of resources
  • Managing contractual aspects including funding and procurements
  • Timely delivery of documentation
  • Progress control and reporting
  • Cost and schedule control
  • Configuration control
  • Risk management
  • Co-ordination and management of the international WFI consortium

The project manager will report to the Director of the MPE High Energy Group, Prof. K. Nandra, who is also the WFI Principal Investigator. They will work closely together with other members of the WFI project office including the Project Scientist, Systems Engineer, Product Assurance manager, Project Controller, and Engineering discipline leads. They will act as the primary management interface between the WFI consortium and the European Space Agency (ESA), who are responsible for the Athena project overall, and the German space agency (DLR) who provide funding to MPE to execute the WFI project. The role involves a high level of responsibility and autonomy and is likely to involve frequent travel for meetings with ESA and international partners.

Your qualification

The successful candidate will hold an appropriate degree in physics, engineering, management or a related discipline and will have a track record of managing projects in astronomical instrumentation. They will have experience in the successful management of projects, people and budgets, and excellent communication skills. Fluency in English, both written and spoken, is essential. German language skills would be highly desirable. Experience with space projects and standards (e.g. ECSS) would be a further asset.

Our offer

The appointment is based on the German scale for public employees (TVöD), with salary dependent on experience and associated benefits. The position is available immediately and will initially be for a term of 2 years. Contingent on project requirements and funding, it will be reviewed for a possible longer-term appointment towards the end of this period.

Your application

Applicants should submit their documents (in PDF format) online comprising a cover letter, a brief description of past projects and a curriculum vitae, including the names and contact details of three referees that can provide letters of reference upon request. Applications received by 15 September 2022 will receive full consideration, but applications received after this date will be considered until the position is filled. 

MPE is committed to equality of opportunity in all respects. Individuals have a right to be treated in a fair and equal manner in accordance with the law regardless of issues such as race, colour, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin or disability. We furthermore support measures that ensure that our recruitment practices and workplace environment are such that they promote diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace.

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