Science Operations Specialist

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Saturday, February 29, 2020
Archive Date: 
Saturday, March 28, 2020
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Scientific/Technical Staff
Institution Classification/Type: 
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), is a consortium of over 40 US institutions and four 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 National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory, the National Solar Observatory, and the construction of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope 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.

The National Solar Observatory (NSO) Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) project is seeking a Science Operations Specialist to perform a number of essential duties in science operations, including the following: operate the telescope, instruments and computer systems during regular day-time operations. On occasions it will be required to support night-time science and/or engineering functions; working in close collaboration with science staff perform service mode observing; assist visiting and staff scientists and engineers in their use of telescope, instruments and computer systems; perform initial quality assessment and assurance of scientific data and provide operational, technical and archival support for data handling.
The successful candidate is required to participate in the DKIST telescope and instrument systems efforts by providing feedback from the users perspective, perform beta testing of, e.g., software systems, participate in training and gain proficiency of relevant DKIST operations systems.

This position is based on Maui, Hawaii and includes work at the DKIST site on the Haleakala summit.

Essential Functions:

  • Operate, support, and assist as required with troubleshooting of telescope systems and instrumentation.
  • Assist scientists and staff with observation execution and data collection for scientific use.
  • Execute daily observations with data acquisition under the direction of resident scientists.
  • Monitor the flow of scientific data from the DKIST instruments.
  • Monitor and verify daily weather and seeing conditions; at the guidance of scientists augment the observing plan as needed based on the conditions.
  • Monitor weather conditions which impact safety of the equipment; be in communication with and work closely with the Duty Engineer to assist with closing the facility as deemed necessary.
  • Be mindful of safety of personnel and equipment while on duty. Be able to work with and communicate clearly with the Duty Engineer and Safety Officer on the summit.
  • Report system errors or maintenance needs.
  • Maintain Telescope Operators logs and reports.
  • Help update instrumentation and telescope control user guides and web pages.
  • 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
  • Perform other tasks as directed by Management.

Required Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • A bachelor’s degree in physics, astronomy, computer science, engineering or related field is required.  A degree in Physics and/or Astronomy is desirable. University Degree or equivalent can be partially satisfied with comparable work experience
  • Ability to understand the principles and functions of astronomical telescopes and instruments and observational data.
  • After a period of training must achieve proficiency in operating observatory systems and instruments, including computer systems, software tools, and some facility systems.
  • Must be willing to work weekends and holidays as needed.
  • Must possess organizational and communication skills as well as the ability to learn quickly. 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.
  • Must be able to handle multiple priorities under a high-level of pressure.
  • Must be able to drive a 4-wheel drive vehicle and possess a clean driving record.

Preferred Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • Familiarity with common astronomical and solar terminology and an intermediate level knowledge of astronomy.
  • Ability to learn optical and infrared imaging and spectroscopy observing and data processing techniques.
  • Knowledge and familiarity with Unix-based operating systems, as well as good proficiency with a variety of computing systems (Mac OS, Windows 10, Linux).
  • Experience in ground-based observing, or similar observing experience.
    • IDL or similar programming experience.
  • Familiarity with the Atlassian tool suite and Google’s G-Suite.

Please list 3 professional references in your application and attach a CV or resume (PDF files preferred) to your application. Please name any attachments with the following format: LastnameDocname. Application documents that are not uploaded as part of the application may be sent to Preference granted to internal applicants. 

AURA, as a leader in the astronomical community, is committed to diversity and inclusion. AURA 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
As a recipient of U.S. Government funding, AURA is considered a government contractor and is subject to Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action regulations. As an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, AURA and all of the centers, do not discriminate based on race, sex, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity/gender identity expression, lawful political affiliations, veteran status, disability, and/or any other legally protected status under applicable federal, state, and local equal opportunity laws.

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

Included Benefits: 

AURA provides a generous compensation package including health coverage, paid time off and retirement benefits.

Application Deadline: 
Saturday, March 28, 2020
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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