GSFC/TESS Mission Support Scientist

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Friday, October 26, 2018
Archive Date: 
Friday, November 30, 2018
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Faculty Positions (visiting and non-tenure)
Institution Classification/Type: 
Large Academic
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Department Name: 
Center for Space Science and Technology
Street Line 1: 
1000 Hilltop Circle
Street Line 2: 
Physics 326
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

Applications are now being accepted for a mission support scientist to contribute to the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) team, resident within the Astrophysics Sciences Directorate at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The successful candidate will primarily be devoted to the development of scientific user tools for the TESS Guest Investigator program. Funded under the auspices of the Center for Research and Exploration in Space Science and Technology II (CRESST II), and through the University of Maryland, Baltimore County

TESS is an Explorer-class planet finder satellite, that launched in April 2018 and began regular science operations in July 2018. Equipped with four wide-angle telescopes and associated CCD detectors, it will collect high-precision photometry to identify transiting planets ranging from Earth-sized to gas giants, orbiting a wide range of stellar types. The principal goal of the TESS mission is to detect small planets with bright host stars in the solar neighborhood, and to enable detailed characterizations of the planets and their atmospheres with current and upcoming facilities like the James Webb Space Telescope. In addition to science data collected every 2 minutes for a select number of astrophysical objects, TESS will transmit full-frame images with an effective exposure time of 30 minutes, which will enable scientists to search for unexpected transient phenomena, such as the optical counterparts to gamma-ray bursts. TESS will also utilize a Guest Investigator program, administered at the NASA/GSFC, to encourage and enable scientists from other organizations to use TESS for their own research.

The mission support scientist would have both program support and scientific responsibilities. The scientist would develop software tools to support the TESS GI program, including web-based proposal preparation tools and data analysis tools (e.g., for light curve extraction and modeling). The scientist would also be encouraged to lead as well as contribute to scientific research that utilizes TESS data -- contributing to papers published in scientific journals.

Applicants must have a Ph.D., or equivalent career experience in Astronomy, Astrophysics, or Computer Science, with demonstrated experience in high-precision photometric data analysis, time-series analysis, light-curve modeling and/or time-domain astronomy. The applicant must have strong software development skills, familiarity with Python/AstroPy, and GitHub. Excellent collaboration and communication skills, along with demonstrated ability to function well as a member of a team, are essential. Additional experience in a science support role and with web development is desirable but not required.

For best consideration submit a Curriculum Vita, list of publications, a 1-2 page statement of experience with supporting scientific research performed by the broader community (e.g., developing software for use by the community or managing an observing program), and contact information for three references by December 3, 2018 (application materials will be accepted until the position is filled) to:

TESS Mission Support
Mail Code 660.8, NASA/GSFC
Greenbelt, MD 20771, or
Via e-mail to

Salary and benefits are competitive, commensurate with experience and qualifications. The start date for the position is flexible. For more information about TESS and the GI program, contact Dr. Thomas Barclay ( For information on CRESST II or positions with UMBC, contact Dr. Jane Turner (

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County is an Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity Employer. Women, minority group members, veterans, and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

Pay Compensation
Compensation Notes: 
Salary and benefits are competitive, commensurate with experience and qualifications
Included Benefits: 

Generous benefits package through the State of Maryland, including, but not limited to, retirement, health insurance, generous leave package, tuition remission. 

Application Deadline: 
Monday, December 3, 2018
Selection Deadline: 
Monday, December 31, 2018
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
Apply to Job
Attention To: 
Virginia Peles
Program Management Specialist
Street Line 1: 
Street Line 2: 
Code 660.8 Building 28, Rm W272
Zip/Postal Code: 
United States of America
Inquiries About Job
Attention To: 
Dr. Thomas Barclay
GSFC/TESS Mission Support Scientist