Gaia/PLATO Software Engineer (Technician)

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Wednesday, September 7, 2022
Archive Date: 
Wednesday, October 19, 2022
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Science Engineering
Institution Classification/Type: 
University of Cambridge
Department Name: 
Institute of Astronomy
Street Line 1: 
Madingley Road
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Job Announcement Text: 

Limited funding: The funds for this post are available until 31 March 2025 in the first instance with good prospects for further extension subject to grant funding.  The anticipated start date is 1st December 2022 or as early as possible thereafter.

This is an exciting opportunity for an ambitious research software engineer to work at the Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit (CASU) in the Institute of Astronomy (IoA) as part of the Gaia and PLATO system development teams.

Gaia is space observatory of the European Space Agency (ESA), launched in 2013 and expected to operate until 2025. Gaia's key objective is a detailed study of the Milky Way that will reveal our Galaxy's content, dynamics, current state and formation history.

The IoA Gaia team are responsible for the processing and analysis of the photometric and low-resolution spectroscopic data collected by ESA's Gaia mission.

PLATO is a European Space Agency (ESA) mission that will detect and characterise a huge sample of exoplanets around bright stars. PLATO is currently scheduled to be launched at the end of 2026. Within the PLATO Consortium, the IoA team are responsible for the development and operation of the Exoplanet Analysis System, which will enable the detection of the signatures of exoplanets from high-precision photometric light curves of the host stars.

The successful candidate will work within CASU's PLATO and Gaia software development teams. The role will focus on development of the data processing software for both Gaia and PLATO, including automation, large scale distributed processing, data analysis and data management. The work involves all phases of the development cycle, including systems analysis, design, implementation, testing, documentation and improvement of existing code. The post-holder will have the opportunity to build upon their experience and to take on a wide selection of roles as needed. The role will also involve: liaising with the wider PLATO and Gaia project teams and external science users; contributing to the documentation and user manuals. The role will include opportunities to interact with the wider CASU team.

The successful candidate will have a good practical knowledge of scientific processing development and at least a BSc (Hons) degree in a numerate discipline (preferably Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or a science with a significant computing element). Systems administration experience would be advantageous.

Knowledge of Python and/or Java and object oriented programming is required. An understanding of abstraction including familiarity with software design patterns is essential. Experience with Spark, Kubernetes and knowledge of database systems would be advantageous.

The post-holder will be required to attend meetings both elsewhere in the UK and overseas.

The University of Cambridge thrives on the diversity of its staff and students. Applications from underrepresented groups are particularly welcome. We have an active Equality and Diversity Committee which continually works to further the aims of the Athena SWAN charter. The University has a number of family-friendly policies and initiatives, including a returning-carer scheme, childcare costs support, university workplace nurseries, university holiday play-schemes, and a shared parental-leave policy. As part of its commitment to providing a family-friendly environment, the IoA ensures that should parental leave be needed during the course of employment, there is provision for extension to contract to compensate for the parental leave taken.

Included Benefits: 

What the University of Cambridge has to offer

Application Deadline: 
Wednesday, October 19, 2022
Selection Deadline: 
Monday, November 14, 2022
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
Apply to Job
Attention To: 
Dr Nicholas Walton
Inquiries About Job
Attention To: 
LG33062 Selection Committee
LG33062 - Gaia/Plato Software Engineer (Technician)