Commissioning-Verification Scientist

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Saturday, July 11, 2020
Archive Date: 
Saturday, August 8, 2020
Job Summary
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Institution Classification/Type: 
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

The Vera C. Rubin Observatory, now under construction, will be a large-aperture, wide-field, ground-based telescope-camera-data processing system that will digitally survey half the sky every few nights in six optical bands. It will explore a wide range of astrophysical questions, ranging from discovering “killer” asteroids, exploring the time domain universe, mapping the evolution and structure of our Milky Way galaxy, to examining the nature of dark matter and dark energy. The project includes an 8-meter class wide field telescope, a 3.2 gigapixel camera with 2-second readout, and a state-of-the-art peta-scale data management system to process, archive, and distribute the 15 TB of data produced every night. Rubin Observatory Construction started an 8-year effort in July 2014. Rubin Observatory Construction is a single project funded by both the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy. Once completed, the Rubin Observatory will conduct the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) which will be the largest and most modern optical survey project ever built and a flagship of US science and engineering.

The System Integration, Test & Commissioning (SIT-Com) team is responsible for leading and coordinating the final system integration and commissioning of the Rubin Observatory System.  The SIT-Com team also includes the Project Systems Engineering group (PSE).  The PSE is responsible in delivering a commissioned system that meets all stakeholders’ needs. At this stage of the project, this means ensuring that all of the requirements are properly verified and validated. This includes developing and managing requirements, verification plans, verification test specifications, performance estimates and cross-subsystem interfaces.   Many of these functions are managed by the PSE using Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE).  As a whole, the SIT-Com team is responsible for conducting verification activities, tracking progress, and working with other project members developing responses to issues and non-compliances that are discovered.

Rubin Observatory is soliciting applicants for a Commissioning-Verification Scientist within the SIT-Com team, this position will based either out of the Rubin Observatory Project Office (Headquarters) in Tucson, AZ or La Serena, Chile (with the later preferred).  The Commissioning-Verification Scientist will play a key role during the Projects System Integration, Test and Commissioning phase with extensive duties on the summit site in Chile.

The successful candidate will assist in the development and execution of verification plans as well as general commissioning activities to demonstrate the Rubin Observatory System has met its design requirements and specifications. 

With the project now at the beginning of its commissioning phase, the Commissioning-Verification Scientist will work closely with Project systems engineers to continue the development of these verification plans, test cases, test specifications, procedures in the form of executable code.  During conduct of commissioning activities, the Commissioning-Verification Scientist is expected to perform detailed technical and science based analysis of test results.

This is a “once-in-a-career” opportunity to be part of the team that ushers in a new world-class National astronomical facility that will change the way we see the universe.  The position being sought runs through the completion of the Rubin Observatory Construction Project (c. late 2022) with multiple opportunities for continued engagement during the Rubin Observatory’s operational phase.

The Commissioning-Verification Scientist is expected to use the Project’s developed common Work Management Systems (e.g. JIRA) for coordinating work during the commissioning phase of the Project, including the development and execution of verification activities and recording of verification analyses and results with the Project’s JIRA based framework.

The Systems Commissioning-Verification Scientist will report to the Systems Scientist/Commissioning Manager.

Essential Functions:

  • Develop detailed subsystem, system and commissioning verification plans
  • Generate test cases, test procedures and specifications to verify system and science requirements in the Project’s Commissioning phase
  • Convert test specifications into executable code (e.g. Python) within the Project’s Science Quality and Reliability Engineering (SQuaRE) test and metric verification framework
  • Validate test specifications and associated code with simulations or precursor data
  • Execute validated verification test procedures
  • Analysis of the collected verification test data against system and science requirements
  • Develop and maintain interface code with SQuaRE team’s test and metric verification framework
  • Provide the SIT-COM team support in ad hoc software development and data analysis tasks as required
  • Contribute to and monitor the early cross-subsystem deliverables

The ideal candidate will understand the process for the assembly, integration, and verification/validation and commissioning phases of a project. 

Minimum Requirements:

  • PhD in Astronomy, Physics, Computer Science, or related field
  • Demonstrated knowledge of Python standard library
  • Two years’ experience programming scientific software using Python
  • Demonstrated knowledge of software management and version control
  • Demonstrated knowledge of UNIX/Linux based systems
  • Ability to speak and write effectively, including preparation and presentation of reports
  • Attention to detail and commitment to achieving high quality results on time
  • Ability to cooperate with and obtain the support of others

Desired Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • Demonstrated knowledge of core scientific Python libraries - NumPy, SciPy, AstroPy etc
  • Knowledge of SQL or similar language for database interaction
  • Knowledge of Python GUI libraries, specifically PyQt
  • Working knowledge using iPython and Jupyter-Lab notebooks
  • Understanding of software engineering, agile process and test driven design
  • Astronomical image processing and analysis
  • Experience executing projects in the assembly, integration, and commissioning phases
  • Experience working on telescopes, instrumentation or other similarly complex systems
  • Experience with large format multi-detector digital astronomical cameras
  • Experience with astronomical surveys
  • Experience with MagicDraw or another MBSE tool

Please list 3 professional references in your application and attach: a cover letter and a CV or resume, PDF files preferred. Please name any attachments with the following format:  LastnameDocname. Application documents that are not uploaded as part of the application may be sent to

Veterans, disabled individuals or wounded warriors needing assistance with the employment process should request assistance at

This position will remain open until filled, we anticipate beginning our review of candidates in mid August, for full consideration, please submit your application by August 14, 2020.

Preference granted to qualified Native Americans living on or near the Tohono O'odham reservation.  

****Rubin Observatory has all staff working remotely during COVID-19 crisis. The safety of our staff and community is our top priority. We will continue to interview and screen candidates in this new virtual landscape. Offers of employment can be extended and new hires can on-board virtually and arrangements may be made for remote work. Relocation benefits will be available to those eligible when travel can be supported****

AURA, as a leader in the astronomical community, is committed to diversity and inclusion. AURA develops and supports programs that advance our organizational commitment to diversity, broaden participation, and encourage the advancement of diversity throughout the astronomical scientific workforce. Learn more at

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), is a consortium of over 40 US institutions and three international affiliates that operates world-class astronomical observatories. AURA’s role is to establish, nurture, and promote public observatories and facilities that advance innovative astronomical research. AURA is responsible for managing the operations of the NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory, the National Solar Observatory, and the construction of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory and the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope under cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation and operations of the Space Telescope Science Institute under contracts with NASA.  

As a recipient of U.S. Government funding, AURA is considered a government contractor and is subject to Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action regulations. As an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, AURA and all of the centers, do not discriminate based on race, sex, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity/gender identity expression, lawful political affiliations, veteran status, disability, and/or any other legally protected status under applicable federal, state, and local equal opportunity laws. 

Included Benefits: 

AURA provides a generous compensation package including health coverage, paid time off and retirement benefits.

Application Deadline: 
Saturday, August 8, 2020
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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