SKA Operations Scientist

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Archive Date: 
Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Science Engineering
Institution Classification/Type: 
Square Kilometre Array Organisation
Jodrell Bank, Macclesfield
SK11 9DL
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Job Announcement Text: 

Organisation and Project Background


The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is a global project to build a multi-purpose radio telescope that will play a major role in answering key questions in modern astrophysics and cosmology.  Twelve governments are now participating in the project, with others engaged in discussions regarding possible membership.  Facilities for the new telescope will be located in South Africa and Australia, with our headquarters in a purpose-built building at Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, UK.  SKA HQ currently houses around 80 staff but has just undergone a major expansion to accommodate up to 150 staff as the project moves towards construction and operation of the SKA telescopes.

Negotiations between the governments of SKA member countries to establish the SKA Observatory as an Inter-Governmental Organisation (IGO) have recently concluded with the IGO due to be established in 2020.


The Role


The first phase of the SKA is due to begin construction soon after the IGO is formed in 2020, and become fully operational in 2027. The operation of the SKA Observatory is currently being planned. Science Working Groups from across the SKA community are developing the future science programme for the Observatory in order to inform and constrain the detailed design.


We are seeking a motivated individual to join the Operations team to support Science Operations planning for the SKA Observatory. We require somebody with operational and scientific experience of the whole signal chain for a radio observatory, and in particular with that from receptor to correlator.


The individual will also be required to support and advise on the planning and execution of the scientific commissioning plan for the SKA Observatory, as well as support the use and operation of the SKA in the global VLBI network. Good organisational, communication and collaborative skills are expected to take on this role. 


Key Duties, Accountabilities and Responsibilities


Under the direction of the SKA Head of Science Operations, the post holder will undertake to support the future science operations of the SKA Observatory in the following areas:


  • To support the development of commissioning and science verification plans to be carried out during SKA construction, as well as any associated test procedures;
  • To develop and inform the operational model for operating the SKA through a series of use cases;
  • To support the review of SKA System Level requirements to ensure their applicability to the future operation of the SKA1 telescopes;
  • To act as the point-of-contact for the SKA with the global VLBI centres, and to work with the SKA VLBI Working Group, and others in the community, to develop the science case(s) for SKA VLBI and a calibration strategy in commissioning;
  • To support the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) programme of work leading up to and into construction;
  • To undertake a programme of personal research;
  • To undertake other duties as directed by the Head of Science Operations.


Mandatory Qualifications, Experience and Knowledge:

  • Experience with the operation of radio observatories and the acquisition and reduction of astronomical data.
  • Experience of the scientific commissioning of radio astronomy instrumentation (or similar), including calibration of data.
  • Experience and knowledge of data analysis software and techniques in radio astronomy, including VLBI.
  • Experience with the use of correlators for radio interferometers.
  • University PhD degree in Physics or Engineering, another closely related and relevant field, or equivalent expertise.
  • A flexible team player who is adaptable to change.


Desirable Qualifications, Experience and Knowledge:

  • Experience working in large collaborative projects.
  • Experience of managing data subject to Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) and familiarity with observatory RFI policies.
  • Experience, or knowledge of, hardware and software technologies in domains such as high-performance computing, big data analytics, or cloud computing.
  • Effective oral and written communication skills in English, and the ability to influence people in widely differing parts of a complex organisation.
  • Ability to work effectively with engineers and scientists from a variety of cultures.
  • Willingness to travel, nationally and internationally, and work outside normal business hours, including evenings and weekends.



For more information on the SKA project visit The SKA Organisation offers a competitive salary and a generous company pension scheme. The successful applicant’s workplace will be located at the SKA Office’s headquarters at Jodrell Bank.


How to apply:


Please send

  • a cover letter summarising how your skills, experience and knowledge meet each of the mandatory and desirable qualifications, experience and knowledge criteria as listed in the job description above;
  • a CV
  • details of your current remuneration package and notice period,

to, quoting reference Ops/Sci. 


Should you be submitting applications for more than one of the available roles within the SKA Organisation please indicate this in your cover letter.


Closing date for receipt of applications is 29 April, 2019.


Equal Opportunities Statement


SKA Organisation is committed to being an equal opportunities employer. Our aim to is recruit and retain the most talented individuals, regardless of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion or nationality.


At all stages of the recruitment process and beyond, we strive to treat applicants and employees with a high standard of care, honesty and politeness.


Women have traditionally been under-represented in the fields of science and engineering; SKA Organisation welcomes and encourages female applicants.


Where applicants with a disability need facilities or adjustments to enable them to participate in the recruitment process, these will be provided. If you need equipment or adjustments to enable you to complete your application and/or attend an interview, then please let us know.

Pay Compensation
Compensation Notes: 
Competitive Salary and generous pension
Application Deadline: 
Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Selection Deadline: 
Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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Attention To: 
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