SKA Observatory: Operations Scientist

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Monday, October 25, 2021
Archive Date: 
Monday, November 22, 2021
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Scientific/Technical Staff
Institution Classification/Type: 
SKA Observatory
Department Name: 
Street Line 1: 
SKA Observatory
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Job Announcement Text: 

At the SKAO we are coordinating a global effort to deliver one of the largest science facilities on the planet. The SKAO telescopes will be next-generation instruments that will help to answer key questions in astrophysics, drive technological innovation and support human capital development. 

More than a dozen partner countries and over a thousand scientists and engineers around the world are already on board, making the SKA project an international collaboration like no other, and one of the most ambitious science and engineering endeavours of the 21st century.

Headquartered in the UK, with telescope sites in Australia and South Africa, the SKAO will be one observatory operating two telescopes, an endeavour spanning three continents. Multinational by design, in early 2021 the SKAO became an intergovernmental organisation, one of only a select handful of science infrastructures to do so worldwide.

Our Global HQ is located near the buzzing city of Manchester at the historic Jodrell Bank Observatory, a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Cheshire countryside. It is home to a rapidly expanding international team of more than a hundred, working in a highly collaborative and inclusive way, in coordination with SKAO teams in Australia and South Africa as part of a global astronomy and engineering community.

Being part of Team SKA means contributing to something extraordinary: a uniquely exciting project to advance human knowledge that will last for decades. In return, we offer a diverse multicultural working environment, 30 days annual leave plus public holidays, a generous pension scheme, regular social events, a family-friendly environment and much more. Come and join us!

An ideal role for a talented and motivated radio astronomer with Observatory experience who will contribute to the operational planning and commissioning of the world's largest radio telescope.

The Role

The Operations Scientist will support the planning for the operations of the SKAO and will bring broad operational and scientific experience within the full range of activities required to run a successful radio observatory. This includes knowledge of the telescope systems, data processing and analysis, as well as experience serving a diverse and distributed user community.

The successful candidate will draw on their experience, expertise within their established networks and the broader astronomical community to inform the detailed SKAO operational plan and policies. They will also be required to support the planning and execution of scientific commissioning and verification for the SKA Observatory.

The successful candidate will have good organisational, communication and collaborative skills.

In line with our Flexible Working Policy, flexibility around working hours may be accommodated in agreement with the Line Manager where operationally viable, ensuring telescope delivery is not impacted.

Key Responsibilities, Accountabilities and Duties

- Under the direction of the SKAO Head of Science Operations, the successful candidate will support the future science operations of the SKA Observatory by:

- Supporting the development and continual refinement of the science operational model for the SKA telescopes;

- Ensuring consistency between the SKA System Level requirements with those needed for the successful future operation of the SKA telescopes;

- Contributing to commissioning and science verification, including the development of plans, requirements for early array releases and test procedures;

- Supporting the development of software needed to operate the SKA telescopes or necessary for the SKAO user community;  

- Effectively collaborating with SKAO staff across the three sites (with possible occasional travel to the SKA telescope sites in Australia and/or South Africa);

- Optionally undertaking a programme of personal research up to 25% of employed hours;

- Undertaking other duties as directed by the Head of Science Operations.

- Mandatory Knowledge, Skills and Experience

- The post holder will have:

- A university PhD degree in Astronomy, Physics, Engineering, another closely related and relevant field, or equivalent experience.

- Experience in radio astronomy techniques including in the acquisition, reduction and analysis of astronomical data, especially from low-frequency arrays.

- Experience with the operation of radio observatories. 

- Experience working with a diverse and globally distributed telescope user community and providing appropriate user support. 

- Effective oral and written communication skills in English.

- Be a flexible team player who is adaptable to change.

Desirable Knowledge, Skills and Experience

- Experience in commissioning radio astronomy instrumentation (or similar).

- Experience in time domain astronomy.

- Experience working in large collaborative projects.

- Experience in understanding and articulating the needs of a user (e.g. radio astronomer) to inform the development of requirements (e.g. through a series of use cases) and/or operational policies. 

- Ability to work effectively with engineers and scientists from a variety of cultures and influence people in widely differing parts of a complex organisation.

- Awareness of equitable practices, including accessibility, to facilitate the broadest possible access to the Observatory from the scientific user community.

For more information, including how to apply for this role, please visit our website:


Included Benefits: 
  • Competitve salary
  • Generous pension
  • Healthcare
  • Leave Benefits
Application Deadline: 
Friday, November 26, 2021
Selection Deadline: 
Friday, December 10, 2021
Current Status of Position: 
No Status Given (Opted Out)
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