JPL is unique among NASA Centers in that its staff are Caltech employees, yet can access NASA technical resources. Cross-discipline teamwork is standard here: colleagues across JPL's science and engineering organizations and Caltech's academic campus often work together. Learning to speak and understand other disciplines' languages is a doorway to the creativity needed to do what has not been done before. JPL staff are encouraged to create mission concepts that address humanity's core questions through a combination of science and technology. They are supported in developing ideas into proposals and hardware, and communicating funded missions' results to the scientific community and the broader public. JPL seeks to employ scientists and engineers who are passionate about lifelong learning and excited to contribute to and lead team efforts. We emphasize the importance of partnering across discipline boundaries and creating a friendly, constructive work environment to overcome space exploration's challenges. The postdocs at JPL benefit from an informal mentoring network, an annual conference showcasing their results, a dedicated seminar series, exposure to diverse career paths, and social connections across the JPL and Caltech community for advice on housing, childcare, and other aspects of living in southern California.
The Astrophysics and Spaces Science section of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) invites applications for one or two postdoctoral positions in the science analysis of the flagship astrophysics missions.
High-contrast imaging of exoplanets from space will enable the search for habitable worlds in our interstellar neighborhood and the characterization of their environments. The Astro2020 Decadal Survey has recommended, as a future flagship astrophysics mission, a 6-m space telescope capable of imaging Earth-sized planets in the habitable zone of many nearby stars. The architectural choices of the mission that will best achieve this scientific endeavor, such as the wavelength range, sensitivity, and technologies of starlight suppression, are left open for further study. To this end, simulations of plausible atmospheres on terrestrial exoplanets and solutions to the inverse problem (i.e., from the spectra to the states of the atmosphere) will help constrain the requirements for spectroscopy. Such requirements would feed into improving the yield analyses of the flagship mission, which would benefit from a figure of merit that incorporates the science value of spectroscopy and characterization.
The successful candidate will work on the timely and rich problems associated with the science analysis of flagship astrophysics missions, such as those aforementioned, in collaboration with Drs. Rhonda Morgan and Renyu Hu. The postdoctoral fellow will work at the intersection of exoplanet science and space exploration, and is expected to quantitively analyze the spectral capabilities of direct-imaging exoplanet mission concepts, using methods such as spectral retrievals, information content analysis, and science yield modeling. The postdoctoral fellow is also encouraged to develop innovative methods, for example, those using machine learning methods or hierarchical Bayesian analysis, to improve the ability to predict and quantify the science yield of future exoplanet missions.
The fellow will also have the support to interact broadly with astrophysicists, planetary scientists, technologists, and engineers at both JPL and Caltech, and will fully benefit from the intellectual environment in both institutions.
Applicants with strong motivation and experience in conducting spectral retrieval analysis and science yield estimates for space missions are encouraged to apply. Relevant experience includes spectral retrieval analysis in exoplanets and other subfields of astrophysics, planetary science, and Earth science; Monte Carlo mission simulations of the science yield of future missions, including instrument performance modeling; as well as relevant data-intensive studies in astronomy. Demonstrated experience in working in a multidisciplinary environment is a plus. Scientists and technologists who are from minority groups underrepresented in astronomy are strongly encouraged to apply. A Ph.D. degree in Astronomy or a related field is required.
The appointee will carry out research in collaboration with the JPL advisors, Renyu Hu and Rhonda Morgan
Applicants may be subject to additional program requirements by NASA. Postdoc positions are awarded for a minimum of one-year period and may be renewed up to a maximum of three years. Applicants should submit a CV including a publication list, representative publications, and a cover letter that describes research experience and achievements, future research interests, as well as how the candidate would support diversity and inclusion at JPL. Applications should be submitted via the JPL Career Website. In addition, applicants should also arrange for three letters of reference to be sent directly to Dr. Renyu Hu ([email protected]). Applications (including the letters) received by September 16, 2022 will receive full consideration, while consideration of applications will continue until the positions are filled. Questions should be directed to Drs. Rhonda Morgan ([email protected]) and Renyu Hu ([email protected]).