The NSF’s National Optical Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) has an immediate opening for a Science Operations Specialist to work with the international Gemini Observatory in La Serena, Chile, within the NOIRLab Telescope Operations division. The successful candidate will join our international team operating two of the world’s premier ground-based telescopes in Hawaii and Chile. The incumbent will be hired at Assistant, Associate, or Principal rank appropriate to the qualifications of the successful candidate. We are looking for a talented individual to become part of the Telescope Operations Division at NOIRLab.
NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) is the preeminent US national center for ground-based, nighttime optical and infrared astronomy. NOIRLab is a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) which operates as a matrix organization, providing services across a range of programs: Gemini, Rubin, MSO (CTIO and KPNO), and CSDC; with facilities in three geographic locations: Arizona, Chile and Hawai’i. The mission of NOIRLab is to enable breakthrough discoveries in astrophysics by developing and operating state-of-the-art ground-based observatories and providing data products and services for a diverse and inclusive community.
A Science Operations Specialist (SOS) position is available at the NOIRLab Telescope Operations division, to work with the International Gemini Observatory - South (La Serena, Chile). An SOS is a member of the Telescope Operations team and performs a number of essential duties in the Observatory’s operation. The tasks fall in four main areas: (1) Telescope operation, (2) Queue observing, (3) Daytime quality assessment, instrument calibration and software testing and (4) Project work: specialized work in line with observatory goals and mission; assigned by management. This position does not include personal research.
The Gemini South telescope is largely operated from the base facility in La Serena, but occasionally duties may take place at the summit of Cerro Pachón, at an altitude of about 2700m. La Serena is a popular seaside town with a population of about 200,000, has a temperate climate, and a substantial international astronomical community.
The SOS essential job duties include the following:
- Operates the telescope, instruments and computer systems during night-time and day-time science and engineering use.
- Performs queue observing and assists visiting and staff scientists and engineers in their use of telescope, instruments and computer systems.
- Evaluates the quality of scientific data and provides operational, technical and archival support for data handling.
- Works independently on special projects aligned with Observatory goals.
- Is responsible for the safety of the personnel, telescope and instruments while working at night.
- Must be willing to work weekends and holidays as needed. Schedule is subject to change and varies by person within the group based on their responsibilities.
- Must be prepared to work night shifts.
- Must be prepared to be responsible for the safety of people and equipment while working at night.
- Must possess organizational and communication skills as well as the ability to learn quickly. Must be fluent in English, while command of the Spanish language is an advantage.
- Must be reliable, dependable, and flexible - excellent attendance and commitment to work scheduled shifts is necessary.
- Must be a self-learner and self-starter; requires above-average initiative.
- Requires outstanding judgment and ability to communicate firmly when issues of safety of personnel or the telescope are apparent.
- Ability to work productively in a multinational team.
- A good working knowledge of PyRAF/IRAF, Python, and the Unix/Linux operating system is preferred.
- Requires prior experience in operation of large telescope.
- Requires a valid driver’s license, clean driving record and the ability to drive 4WD vehicles.
A Bachelor’s degree in physics, astronomy, computer science, engineering or closely related field is required; a Masters is preferred, particularly if it included observing experience.
- All AURA employees are responsible for the proper management and control of all AURA property within their work area, whether assigned to them or someone else. This responsibility includes reporting any known missing, stolen, or non-working property in their work area to their supervisor or the AURA Property Officer.
- Responsible for ensuring compliance with government award terms and conditions assigned to this position or subordinates of this position as defined in the Vela Award Management system
The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
- While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to sit; use hands to finger, handle, or feel and talk or hear.
- The employee is occasionally required to stand; walk; reach with hands and arms and stoop; kneel; crouch; or crawl.
- The employee must regularly lift and /or move up to 10 pounds and occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 pounds.
- Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, depth perception and ability to adjust focus.
- Must possess - sufficient mobility, strength, or dexterity in both arms and hands and both legs to a) reach upward, sideways, downward to work with paper files; b) sufficient mobility and dexterity to utilize computer systems, fax machines, copiers, and other office machines.
- Must possess – 1) ability to read and understand instructions, drawings, safety guides, and other written materials necessary to perform job; 2) sufficient visual capacity to perform the applicable functions without assistance of visual aids other than eye contacts or eye glasses; 3) sufficient spoken aural capacity to hear and understand instructions, warning bells, fire alarms, or shouted instructions without assistance of auditory aids other than a hearing aid; and 4) ability to impart information orally so that others understand and can respond appropriately.
- Must be able to operate a four-wheel drive vehicle on rough roads in mountainous terrain.
- Must be willing to support observing systems after normal working hours.
- Some travel may be necessary in or outside the United States and Chile.
- For summit positions, consider: Cerro Pachon: Ability to work at 8,900’
If you would like to apply for this opportunity, please submit your CV/Resume and a Cover Letter in English (PDF files preferred) and provide contact information of 3 professional referees in your application (references will be sought later in the recruiting process). The position will remain open until filled, while all applications received before September 11, 2023 will receive full consideration. Name any attachments with the following format: LastnameDocname. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Application documents that are not uploaded as part of the application may be sent to [email protected].
At NOIRLab we are committed to diversity and inclusion; our managing organization, AURA, as a leader in the astronomical community, develops and supports programs that advance our organizational commitment to diversity, broaden participation, and encourage the advancement of diversity throughout the astronomical scientific workforce. Learn more at http://www.aura-astronomy.org/diversity.asp
AURA offers an excellent benefits package including paid time off and retirement plan contributions, competitive salary commensurate with experience, and a very attractive work environment.
The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a consortium of over 40 US institutions and three international affiliates that operates world-class astronomical observatories. AURA’s role is to establish, nurture, and promote public observatories and facilities that advance innovative astronomical research. AURA is responsible for managing the operations of the NSF’s NOIRLab, the National Solar Observatory, and the construction of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory and the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope under cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation and operations of the Space Telescope Science Institute under contracts with NASA. Veterans, disabled individuals or wounded warriors needing assistance with the employment process should request assistance at [email protected]