Research Associate (687-500)

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Thursday, December 21, 2017
Archive Date: 
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Science Engineering
Institution Classification/Type: 
Universities Space Research Association
Moffett Field
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

The Research Associate focuses on assisting the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) Instrument Scientists in their support of facility instruments and their operations. Support duties will include, but are not limited to, operating facility instruments in flight, assisting observatory users in defining their observations, and keeping instrumentation documentation and web content up-to-date.

The Research Associate position nominally has a 25% research component, however the exact percentage of research can be negotiated depending on applicant’s background and interest. A demonstrated history of active research and research interests broadly related to SOFIA science will have a particular advantage.

This position is a 2-year appointment, with a third year possible depending on performance and funding.


Essential Duties/Responsibilities:

Assist Instrument Scientists in providing support to Guest Observers, including the preparation for, acquisition of, and possibly reduction of observations taken with SOFIA science instruments.

Execute observations with SOFIA science instruments in queue observing mode (for the Guest Observer community) as necessary.

Perform and maintain active scientific research in astronomy

Represent SOFIA through research collaborations, visits, workshops, conferences, etc.

Perform other general scientific observatory support functions (e.g. proposal technical reviews, generate and give SOFIA related presentations, etc.) as directed by SOFIA management.

Ensure the protection of NASA and USRA intellectual property with respect to commercial and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) concerns through disclosures, patent applications, and adherence to NASA’s scientific and technical information dissemination guidelines.

Support efforts by USRA Management to ensure that USRA conducts its business operations in an effective, cost-competitive, and professional manner

Complete required trainings as scheduled.

Other job related duties as assigned.


Required Qualifications:


PhD in Astronomy, Physics or related field



Experience in ground-based or air-borne infrared and/or sub-mm observing preferred

Instrumentation experience and/or observing support experience are not necessary but advantageous 

Demonstrated history of active research and research interests broadly related to SOFIA science preferred


Knowledge, Skills & Abilities:  

Knowledge of instrument hardware and data acquisition software, while not necessary, is desired.

Excellent written and verbal communication in English is required, fluency in written and spoken German a plus.

Ability to read and interpret documents such as safety rules, operating and maintenance instructions, and procedure manuals.

Ability to write routine reports and correspondence.

Ability to speak effectively before groups of customers or employees of organization.

Ability to define problems, collect data, establish facts, and draw valid conclusions.

Ability to interpret an extensive variety of technical instructions in and deal with several abstract and concrete variables.

Proficiency in Microsoft Office and its applications.

Teamwork and the ability to work effectively with co-workers, customers, and supervisor in a professional and courteous manner.


Working Conditions:

This job primarily operates in a professional office environment. This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, phones, photocopiers, etc. Extensive online usage. While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently required to stand; walk; sit, use hands.  Keyboarding for large time spans each day will be a significant part of this position.

The job requires the ability to work onboard the SOFIA observatory, both on the ground and in flight.  Significant parts of the job requires night-time work, away from the home base.

While performing the duties of this job, the employee may occasionally be exposed to fumes or airborne particles.  The employee may be exposed to moving equipment, vehicles and mechanical parts.  The noise level in the work office environment is typically mild.  The environment on the aircraft during flight operations may become noisy and tiring. The employee must be capable of performing all duties in a technical / scientific setting including offices, laboratories, shops, and aircraft maintenance facilities as well as on the aircraft / observatory, both while on the ground and during flights.  The employee may need to lift and / or move up to 50 pounds. 



This position is based at NASA AMES Research Center Moffett Field, CA but significant travel is required to Armstrong Flight Research Center and international business travel for weeks at a time.


Applicants should apply to the posting at and include a letter of interest, resume, or curriculum vita.  Review of candidates will begin immediately.  Additional information on USRA can be found at

USRA is an Equal Opportunity Employer Minorities/Females/Protected Veterans/Disabled/Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity

Application Deadline: 
Thursday, March 1, 2018
Selection Deadline: 
Thursday, March 1, 2018
Current Status of Position: 
No Status Given (Opted Out)
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Ben Tanis
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