About the Role

The Earth Observation, Climate & Optical group at NPL is a world leader in the theory, methods and practice of metrological traceability of earth observation instrumentation and their data products. ECO projects span the full life cycle of EO instrumentation traceability; from pre-flight calibration, in-orbit validation, inter-operability together with L1 and derived product quality assurance. NPL’s historical activities have focussed on radiometric sensors in the solar-reflective and thermal IR spectral regions, but are expanding into microwave and to the calibration of active sensors

This role centres on the development of SI-traceable pre-flight calibration systems and their use with state-of-the-art satellite multi-spectral and hyper-spectral instruments.  NPL has been developing new techniques to allow time- and resource-efficient optical ground support equipment (OGSE) activities for a range of users from compact commercial imagers to next-generation scientific payloads developed by pan-European and national-level space agencies. The techniques and facilities are equally applicable to the calibration and characterisation of field instrument used in sensor validations campaigns and long term monitoring sites.

About You

The successful candidate will be providing technical leadership to NPL’s activity in the design, build and deployment of pre-flight calibration systems at NPL and customer facilities. This will involve:

  • Evaluation of customer requirement specifications against facility performance.
  • Respond to invitations to tender (ITTs) and prepare technical proposal working with the internal & partner bidding teams to provide competitive solutions.
  • Oversee the customisation of facilities to meet customer needs.
  • Apply system engineering approaches to lead a team of engineers (optical, electrical, mechanical & software) to successfully deliver projects.
  • Manage the installation and commissioning of OGSE facilities at customer sites, (predominantly large system integrators (LSIs) and test houses in the UK and across Europe)
  • Provide expert analysis of instrument calibration & characterisation activity results, writing reports and presenting to the customer & funders.
  • Prepare documentation throughout the project life-cycle compliant to the customer and funder specification (typically ESA ECSS or similar)
  • Supervising junior scientists/engineers working in this technical area (with possible line management if appropriate)
  • Identify improvements to the facilities, overseeing the design and implementation of the evolving facilities to maintain a globally competitive product.
  • Participating in international committees and attending conferences, publishing scientific work in journals and developing good practice guidelines, training material and standards.


Person specification

  • Strong understanding of Earth Observation satellite instruments and their optical performance testing and calibration needs.
  • Strong understanding of current technology including: optics, laser systems, and the design of mechanical and thermal systems.
  • Good understanding of the metrological principles, test design and test implementation to verify instrument performance.
  • Good understanding of satellite system project structures and reporting requirements.
  • Collaborative with other senior scientists and able to encourage and coach junior scientists
  • Able to provide technical leadership across a multi-disciplinary team.
  • Can think strategically regarding future facility need.


In addition, we require:

  • Degree and PhD (or equivalent experience) in Physics, Earth Science or Engineering
  • Strong scientific and mathematical skills


You will be working in optical measurement laboratories that will be dimly lit and you will be required to perform visual alignment and manual handling tasks. You will also be expected to travel to international locations for conferences and to meet customers in the UK and abroad to perform laboratory-based work.

Please note that applications will be reviewed on a ongoing basis. So we may close the vacancy before the end date. Interviews will be held on 25th October. 
About The Company

We’re transforming. As a national laboratory, we’re exploring even more commercial routes to market and that’s presenting us with greater opportunity – for you and us. Our success relies on the diversity and talent of our people, we strive to nurture and respect individuals to ensure everyone feels valued and supported to excel in their chosen field. This value is at the core of our organisation.

We believe in a culture of fairness by treating everyone on the basis of their own individual merits and abilities regardless of their own or perceived identity, background or any other factor irrelevant to a person’s work. At NPL we are committed to the health and well-being of our employees. Flexible working and social activities are embedded in our culture to create a positive work-life balance, along with a broad range of benefitsNPL’s values are at the heart of what we do and they shape the way we interact, develop our people and celebrate success.

As part of our commitment to diversity & inclusion, we signed up to the Institute of Physics' Project Juno in 2015 as a Juno Supporter. NPL were proud to be awarded Juno Practitioner status in 2018. NPL also joined Stonewall as a Diversity champion in 2015, participating in their annual Workplace Equality Index for the equality of LGBT+ community at NPL. In 2018, NPL became a member of the Business Disability Forum and joined the disability confident scheme as level 1 committed employer.

To ensure everyone has an equal chance, we’re always willing to make reasonable adjustments to the recruitment process. If you would like to discuss, please contact us.