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a scientist (M/F)



Start date
Deadline for applications
Job title description

The work will consist in supporting the activities of the Planetary Aeronomy group, and in particular, those related to the characterization of the composition of the atmosphere of Venus, using space instruments as well as ground-based validation.

Division, context

The Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB) is a scientific institution of the Belgian Federal Space Pole located in Uccle (Brussels). Its principal mission is the development of scientific and technological expertise in the field of aeronomy. One of its research domains is planetary aeronomy, which focuses on the atmospheres of terrestrial planets. BIRA-IASB has developed expertise in both space based observations and theoretical understanding of planetary atmospheres, and has also built instruments for space missions to Venus and Mars.

  • Developing, improving and maintaining codes and algorithms for the analysis of the IR spectra acquired by space-borne instruments. This includes the use and development of an existing radiative transfer code optimized for the IR spectral domain;
  • Interpretation and gathering of various datasets relevant to the Venusian atmosphere, with a particular focus on composition (abundances of main and trace gases), structure (temperature, winds) and clouds and hazes;
  • Creation and maintenance of a Venus Atmosphere Database;
  • Developing models (1D, radiative, photochemistry, etc) to improve our understanding of the Venusian environment;
  • The support to the design of new space instruments for future flight opportunities.

In particular, the candidate will contribute to:

  • Improve and optimize the existing software codes (Fortran, C, Matlab, Python, IDL), implementing new ideas; in particular for the automation of the treatment and analysis of the spectra obtained by the SOIR instrument developed at BIRA-IASB;
  • Develop new functionalities for a better and improved characterization of the clouds and hazes in the radiative transfer code already existing at IASB-BIRA;
  • Support the development of tools to investigate the available data in order to produce higher-level data (densities, temperatures, maps, etc.).
Required competences

The candidate must hold a PhD degree in Sciences, Engineering or similar with at least 10 years experience.

Programming skills:
  • Very good knowledge of programming languages (Python, C, Fortran, IDL and MATLAB) under UNIX and Windows environments;
  • Knowledge of different file formats (HDF5, PDS3, PDS4, FITS): able to write specific tools to read/write/convert files;
  • Good knowledge of UNIX and Windows environments;
  • Knowledge of radiative transfer theory and non-local thermodynamical equilibrium is a prerequisite.
  • Expertise in infrared spectroscopy (theory and experimental) is a prerequisite, as well as experience with space instrumentation.
  • Expertise in Direct Simulation Monte Carlo method.
Generic skills:
  • Knowledge of English (written and spoken).
  • High level of autonomy, as well as active participation in a small team.
  • Good communication skills (presenting results to the team and to the scientific community); ability to write reports, documentation and scientific papers.
  • Interest for the scientific activities of the team and of the institute.
Offer and benefits
  • The position is on a contractual basis. Salary is according to the federal regulations for scientific contractual personnel. Relevant scientific seniority will be taken into account.
  • Dynamic working environment with international contacts.
  • Interesting holidays regulations, multiple ways to balance professional and private lives (flexible schedule within the 38 hours week, possibility to work from home, possibility to work 80%).
  • Possibility to acquire a bonus for bilinguism (Dutch/French).
  • Full refund of commuting expenses when using public transportation, compensation when using the bicycle.
  • Access to special advantages arranged for the employees of the federal scientific institutions (such as: collective hospital insurance, possibility to follow training, partial compensation of sports / culture subscriptions, Fed+ card with access to many advantages, …).
  • Pleasant work environment in a scientific institution located in a green setting in Uccle, Brussels.
  • 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.


Send a complete CV and a motivation letter with reference: “SCI_D43_VENSCI” to both:


Venus atmosphere
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.