Assistant Science Operation Specialist (SOS)

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Saturday, April 17, 2021
Archive Date: 
Saturday, May 15, 2021
To event remaining 3 days
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Scientific/Technical Staff
Institution Classification/Type: 
Department Name: 
RSS - Research & Science Services
La Serena
Job Announcement Text: 

The NSF’s National Optical Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) has an immediate opening for an Assistant Science Operations Specialist to work with the international Gemini Observatory, 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. 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.

The Education and Job Requirements are: 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. 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.

To learn about the Physical Demands of this opportunity go to  Reference Number: ASSIS3809

If you would like to apply for this opportunity, please submit your CV/Resume along with a Cover Letter in English (PDF files preferred). Also, kindly provide contact information of 3 professional references in your application, as references will be contacted later in the recruiting process. To be considered in the first round of reviews, please submit your application by May 7th, 2021.  Please name any attachments with the following format: LastnameDocname. The position will remain open until filled. Application materials should be submitted online through the AURA Jobs website: / Reference Number: ASSIS03809 // Incomplete applications will not be considered. Application documents that are not uploaded as part of the application may be sent to

****NOIRLab has the majority of staff working remotely during COVID-19 crisis. The safety of our staff and community is our top priority. We will continue to interview and screen candidates in this new virtual landscape. Offers of employment can be extended and new hires can on-board virtually and arrangements may be made for remote work. Relocation benefits will be available to those eligible when travel can be supported**** 

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

Veterans, disabled individuals or wounded warriors needing assistance with the employment process should request assistance at

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 

Included Benefits: 

AURA offers competitive salaries based on market rates and a generous compensation package of benefits including health coverage, paid time off and retirement benefits. 

Application Deadline: 
Sunday, May 16, 2021
Selection Deadline: 
Sunday, May 16, 2021
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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