Applications are invited for an instrument scientist position at the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). The instrument scientists are experts on the operation of, and data produced by, the SOFIA scientific instruments, generally with a primary focus on one instrument and a supporting role on another. Instrument scientist serve as the point of contact between the observatory and the guest observers, prepare, plan, and oversee the execution of observations during flight operations (as part of a team with the instrument operator, telescope operator, and mission director), and carry out the inspection, calibration analysis, and quality assurance assessment of data reduced by the automatic pipelines to ensure that high quality calibrated products are generated, ingested into the archive, and distributed to the community. SOFIA science flights are at night and last 8-10 hr; an instrument scientist flies approximately a dozen flights per year. We are currently seeking a scientist to support the HAWC+, GREAT, and FIFI-LS facility instruments.
Instrument scientists will have a fraction of their time available for their own scientific research. The research should preferably be aligned with SOFIA’s scientific themes, which include using infrared observations and to study the birth of stars and planets, origins of life, physics of the distance universe, and evolution of planetary systems. Funding is available for travel to conferences and observing runs, computer equipment, publications and visiting collaborators.
- Characterize and conduct observations with SOFIA science instruments, especially HAWC+. Knowledge of astronomical data reduction id required, and additional knowledge of instrument hardware and data acquisition software is preferred.
- Provide support to General Observers, including the preparation for, acquisition of, and reduction of observations taken with SOFIA science instruments, especially HAWC+.
- Execute observations with SOFIA science instruments in queue observing mode (for the General Investigator community) as necessary
- Track and report on instrument capabilities and assist in repairs/adjustments as necessary.
- Represent SOFIA and engage the scientific community in research work through research collaborations, visits, invited guests, workshops, conferences, etc.
- Perform general scientific observatory support functions (proposal technical reviews, support of colloquium series, generate and give SOFIA related presentations, etc.) as directed by SMO management.
- Perform scientific research in astronomy, broadly relevant to SOFIA.
- Ensure the protection of NASA and USRA intellectual property with respect to commercial and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) concerns through disclosures, patent applications, and adherence to NASA’s scientific and technical information dissemination guidelines.
- Support efforts by USRA Management to ensure that USRA conducts its business operations in an effective, cost-competitive, and professional manner
- Complete required trainings as scheduled.
Other job related duties as assigned
- PhD in Astronomy, Physics or related field
- Minimum of 2 years of post-PhD degree experience in astronomical research and infrared observations
- Experience in ground-based or air-borne infrared observations is a particular advantage
- Experience with astronomical observing on modern facilities
- Experience with astronomical instrumentation and/or observer support is preferred
- Experience with analyzing data from modern scientific facilities
- Experience with infrared observations and data reduction/analysis is preferred
- Good track record of publications in leading scientific journals
Knowledge, Skills & Abilities:
- Ability to support and communicate effectively with research astronomers, both experts and novices in the field of FIR astronomy
- Excellent written and verbal communication in English is required, fluency in written and spoken German a plus.
- Ability to read and interpret documents such as safety rules, operating and maintenance instructions, and procedure manuals.
- Ability to write routine reports and correspondence, speak effectively before groups of customers or employees of organization.
- Ability to define problems, collect data, establish facts, and draw valid conclusions.
- Ability to interpret an extensive variety of technical instructions in and deal with several abstract and concrete variables.
- Proficiency in Microsoft Office and its applications.
- Teamwork and the ability to work effectively with co-workers, customers, and supervisor in a professional and courteous manner.
This job primarily operates in a professional office environment. This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, phones, photocopiers, etc. Extensive online usage. While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently required to stand; walk; sit, use hands. Keyboarding for large time spans each day will be a significant part of this position.
The job requires the ability to work onboard the SOFIA observatory, both on the ground and in flight. Significant parts of the job requires night-time work, away from the home base.
While performing the duties of this job, the employee may occasionally be exposed to fumes or airborne particles. The employee may be exposed to moving equipment, vehicles and mechanical parts. The noise level in the work office environment is typically mild. The environment on the aircraft during flight operations may become noisy and tiring. The employee must be capable of performing all duties in a technical / scientific setting including offices, laboratories, shops, and aircraft maintenance facilities as well as on the aircraft / observatory, both while on the ground and during flights. The employee may need to lift and / or move up to 50 pounds.
These positions are based at NASA AMES Research Center Moffett Field, CA but significant travel is required to Armstrong Flight Research Center and international business travel for long lengths of time.
Applicants should apply to the posting at USRA Careers and include a letter of interest, resume, or curriculum vita. Additional information on USRA can be found at www.usra.edu.
USRA is an Equal Opportunity Employer: Minorities / Females / Protected Veterans / Disabled / Sexual Orientation / Gender Identity.