Investigation Scientist for Extreme-Precision Radial Velocity

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Archive Date: 
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Scientific/Technical Staff
Institution Classification/Type: 
Research Laboratory
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Street Line 1: 
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Street Line 3: 
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, invites applications for an Investigation Scientist for Extreme-Precision Radial Velocity (EPRV) development in the joint NASA-NSF Exoplanet Observation Research (NN-EXPLORE) program within the Exoplanet Exploration Program (ExEP) at JPL. The goal of NASA's EPRV development effort is to implement the recommendation of the National Academies 2018 Exoplanet Science Strategy report, "NASA and NSF should establish a strategic initiative in extremely precise radial velocities (EPRVs) to develop methods and facilities for measuring the masses of temperate terrestrial planets orbiting Sun-like stars." The EPRV Investigation Scientist will help the NN-EXPLORE team with the development and oversight of programs which will advance instrumentation, mitigate noise sources (e.g., stellar variability, telluric contamination, etc.), optimize observational strategies, and enhance analysis techniques to achieve the few cm/s RV precision goal.

The EPRV Scientist will work closely with the ExEP chief scientists, the NN-EXPLORE project manager, the NN-EXPLORE project scientist, and the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI) to formulate, plan, and implement scientific directions in support of NN-EXPLORE EPRV development effort. The scientist will maintain an active role in EPRV-related research and development questions, analysis, and continuing to contribute to and lead publications in refereed scientific journals. The position involves active engagement with NASA leadership and advisory boards, and the community at large.

In close collaboration with the ExEP/NN-EXPLORE team, the successful candidate will pursue the following responsibilities:

  • Work with NN-EXPLORE management in planning and evaluation of EPRV basic research, technology development, data analytics, data challenges and observational architectures, surveys, and strategies.
  • Report programmatically to and co-locate with NN-EXPLORE project manager at JPL.
  • Report scientifically to the ExEP program chief scientists and the NN-EXPLORE project scientist.
  • Along with the NN-EXPLORE project scientist, serve as the scientific point of contact for EPRV development within the NN-EXPLORE program for the scientific community; represent EPRV science to JPL and NASA management and the Exoplanet Technical Assessment Committee (ExoTAC); and be responsible for the scientific integrity of the EPRV development task within NN-EXPLORE.
  • Help assess the relative science capabilities of different EPRV survey architectures.
  • Assist with the development, preparation and evaluation of EPRV requirements, implementation plans, budgets, schedules and reports.
  • Support and help cultivate the to-be-established inter-disciplinary EPRV research coordination network (RCN).
  • Foster interdisciplinary and international scientific participation in EPRV.
  • Assist project management with regular presentations and reporting to JPL and NASA.
  • Assist in the preparation of press releases related to EPRV.
  • Actively engage in education and public outreach related to EPRV.
  • Use 20% of their NN-EXPLORE-supported worktime to conduct research into exoplanet/EPRV-related science, and publish results in major scientific journals and present at major scientific conferences. There is the option and expectation that up to an additional 30% of their worktime can be "bought back" from outside funds to conduct additional research.


  • Ph.D. degree in astronomy, physics or related.
  • Experience with telescope observations of exoplanets, including conducting radial velocity (RV) Doppler spectroscopic observations.
  • Familiarity with operating procedures and principles of ground-based and/or space-based telescopes.
  • Success with externally funded research proposals and obtaining telescope observing time.
  • Peer-reviewed publications in the field of exoplanets and radial velocity spectroscopy in professional journals and presentations at national and/or international conferences.
  • Excellent communication skills, with the ability to communicate complex scientific concepts to a broad scientific community and the public.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Three or more years of related experience.
  • Familiarity with astronomical and spectroscopic instrumentation.
  • Familiarity with existing pipeline software packages and data analysis (data science) techniques for retrieval of radial velocities from time-sampled stellar spectra.
  • Prior service to the scientific community, including, but not limited to review boards, telescope time allocation panels, proposal and manuscript review, etc.

Questions about the position or the application process can be directed to To view the full description of this unique opportunity and apply, please visit:

Applications received by June 16, 2021 will receive full consideration.

Pay Compensation
Compensation Notes: 
Salary is competitive
Included Benefits: 

JPL offers a generous benefits package and relocation benefits (if eligible). 

Application Deadline: 
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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