The Mars Sample Return – Sample Fetch Rover (SFR) is one of three European Space Agency (ESA) contributions to the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) led Mars Sample Return Campaign, which aims to return soil and atmospheric samples from the Mars surface to Earth by 2031. SFR is foreseen for launch on board Sample Return Lander (SRL) in 2026.
On behalf of ESA, we are currently looking for a Functional System Engineer for Sample Fetch Rover to work in its Site (ESTEC) in the city of Noordwijk, The Netherlands.
The Functional System Engineer for Sample Fetch Rover (referred to as FSE hereafter) will work as part of the SFR Fetching System Team, within the wider SFR Project Team.
The FSE will work in close cooperation with the Fetching System Robotics Engineer, and will report to the Fetching System Team Leader. Within the team, the FSE will be responsible of:
the development, qualification and delivery of the “Returnable Sample Tube Assembly (RSTA) Detection System” (hereafter referred to as RSTA Detection System or RDS);
the overview of the Software Development & Qualification activities related to the Fetching System, in close coordination with the SFR SW system engineer; the definition of the Fetching System operational aspects (Concept Operations, feasibility, implementation, etc.) in coordination with the SFR surface operations system engineer, to ensure they are properly reflected in the RDS and Arm and Gripper Subsystem (AGS) designs;
the Functional Verification of the end-to-end Fetching System;
Systems Engineering support tasks as needed.
Tasks and Activities
The scope of work will include:
RDS development: The RDS comprises the Visual Based Detection System (VBDS), a software responsible for the autonomous detection of the RSTAs on the surface of Mars, as well as the Cameras involved in the task (i.e. NavCams shared between Navigation and RSTA Detection, and the Arm wrist camera). The FSE will be responsible for the development, qualification and timely delivery of all the RDS elements. The development and validation of algorithms within the VBDS will be supported by the Fetching System Robotics Engineer and additional specialists as needed.
Software development within the Fetching System: The Fetching System encompasses the following software elements:
The VBDS software;
Motion planning and control software of the AGS;
The Acquisition Management System (AMS), a software element at FS-level which links together the SFR central SW to the VBDS and motion control software.
The FSE will support the software development lifecycle within the Fetching System team, and will support, together with a software specialist, the follow up of related industrial activities The FSE will work in close cooperation with the ESA SFR software System Engineer, who is the overall responsible for the SFR software.
Fetching System operations: The FSE will be the focal point within the Fetching System team on all related operational aspects and activities, and will directly liaise with/support the SFR Surface and Mission Operations System Engineers (SOSE and MOSE respectively). The FSE will support the Concept Operations definition as needed and will monitor their translation to requirements on the design of the Fetching System elements. Finally, the FSE will participate to operations-related reviews and interface with all the relevant stakeholders.
Fetching System Functional Verification: The FSE will oversee the end-to-end functional verification (FV) of the FS, including the needed FV infrastructure, i.e. simulators, facilities and Ground Support Equipment. These tasks will be carried out in close cooperation with FS Robotics Engineer and the SFR AIV System Engineer.
Systems Engineering support: The FSE will work in close cooperation with the Fetching System Robotics Engineer and support the Team Leader in general systems engineering tasks (e.g. interfaces, technical budgets, verification) as needed across the tightly integrated Fetching System.
Interfacing and General Responsibilities: The FSE will support the Fetching System Team Leader in the procurement and timely delivery of the flight Fetching System in accordance with the approved technical and programmatic budgets, requirements and interfaces. Towards this goal, the FSE will work in close cooperation with the FS Robotics Engineer responsible of AGS subsystem. The FSE will coordinate on the ESA side, reviews under his/her domain of responsibility.
The FSE will work in close cooperation with the members of the Sample Fetch Rover (SFR) team as needed. More specifically the FSE will:
Liaise with the SFR-JPL Interface System Engineer on all external interfacing aspects;
Support the MOSE and SOSE on all Fetching System-related operational aspects;
Liaise with the AIV System Engineer on verification aspects;
Liaise with and support the SFR Software System Engineer on the Fetching System software development lifecycle;
Liaise with members of the SFR Engineering Team as required;
Liaise with the SFR Product Assurance Manager to ensure that proper PA practices are followed throughout the development in the areas under his/her responsibility;
Participate in, and provide support to other areas of the project where the post holder’s experience can be applied.
Finally, the FSE will coordinate the support of specialists from the Technical Directorate as needed and will support System-level reviews throughout the SFR Phases B2/C/D/E.
Skills and Experience
The following skills and experience are mandatory:
Master’s degree or equivalent qualification in an engineering discipline, with at least 4 years of relevant working experience.
Demonstrated widespread experience in aerospace or human spaceflight activities management, including development, integration and operations activities of complex payloads and/or spacecrafts.
Proven experience in B2/C/D/E project development phases for ESA projects.
Strong aptitude for relationship management as well as good communication skills. The post requires a result‐oriented approach to work in a highly complex project environment.
Strong capacity for planning and organizing tasks.
Excellent verbal and written communication skills, including ability to deliver focused concise management reports or presentations.
Team-oriented mentality, good interpersonal skills and ability to work effectively in a multi‐disciplinary environment.
Capability to develop and acquire new skills as needed by the post.
Fluency in English, both written and spoken.
The following skills would be highly desirable:
Proven experience in interfacing with partners in an international environment.
Experience in Robotics-related space projects or payloads.
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