Software Engineer

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Friday, August 28, 2020
Archive Date: 
Friday, September 25, 2020
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Institution Classification/Type: 
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

If you are looking for professional growth, are enthusiastic about science and new technologies, have a curious mind, and love to work in a supportive team, we should talk! NSF's National Optical-IR Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab; is looking to hire talented and motivated software engineers. Based in Tucson, AZ, (adjacent to the University of Arizona campus) NOIRLab is the US national center for optical and infrared (OIR) astronomy. The fundamental mission of NOIRLab is to enable scientific discovery by a global research community. 

The successful candidates will begin work immediately with the Community Science and Data Center (CSDC) division of NOIRLab. At CSDC, teams of developers, scientists, and system engineers work together in an intellectually stimulating environment to build software systems for data-intensive astronomy. Immediate openings are available in support of the Data Lab ( and ANTARES ( projects. 

Data Lab is an online data science platform for astronomy through which scientists access petabyte-scale astronomical image and spectroscopy archives, query databases with hundreds of billions of rows, and run analysis workflows close to the data through APIs, web interfaces, and Jupyter notebooks. Astronomers can use Data Lab to search for new asteroids in the Solar System, to study the structure of our Milky Way galaxy, or to characterize Dark Matter and Dark Energy. 

Starting in 2022, the 8.4-meter Rubin Observatory will detect several million sources every night that have changed in brightness or position. The Arizona-NOIRLab Temporal Analysis and Response to Events System (ANTARES; is designed to process these detections in near-real-time.  These events are stored in a database that will grow to petabyte scale. The ANTARES project is a collaboration between NOIRLab and the University of Arizona Computer Science Department.

We are building a well-rounded team of software engineers who:

  • are passionate about building robust, data-intensive software systems
  • are self-starters and able to work collaboratively in an Agile team
  • are familiar with software development best-practices, including test-driven development, version control, configuration management, and documentation
  • ready and willing to learn new technologies on the job

We are seeking developers with Python, Java, or C/C++ experience in a Linux environment with exposure to at least two of these related areas:

  • Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery frameworks
  • Containerization technologies (e.g., Docker, Kubernetes) 
  • Open-source database technologies  (e.g., Postgres, MySQL, Cassandra)
  • Design / development of data models and user-facing web services (e.g. REST API)
  • Commercial cloud platforms (e.g. Google, Amazon)
  • DevOps tools (e.g. Puppet, Ansible, Chef)

Developers at CSDC have recently been involved in activities such as:

  • Performance optimization & refactor of distributed codebase from metric data
  • API development to support user feature requests
  • Geospatial indexing algorithm implemented from computer science literature and open-source libraries
  • Migration of software services to containerized framework

Physical Demands:

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.  

The work is mostly carried out in an office environment. Long periods of sitting may be required.

Candidates from all industries, backgrounds, and experience levels are encouraged to apply. 

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

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

Appointments are expected to be for an initial term of two years, with the expectation of renewal or re-assignment subject to program needs. Software engineers within NOIRLab/CSDC are strongly encouraged to pursue career development through continuing education and individual research.

****Most NOIRLab staff work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. The safety of our staff and community is our top priority. We will interview and screen candidates virtually. Offers of employment can be extended and new hires can on-board virtually and will work remotely until it is safe to report to our Tucson offices. Relocation benefits will be available to those eligible when travel can be supported.****

NOIRLab offers an excellent benefits package, competitive salary commensurate with experience, and an attractive work environment in science and technology, with a great work/life balance.

If this sounds exciting to you, please submit a cover letter outlining how your interests and experience match the position, a resume/CV, and the names and contact information for 3 professional references with your application. Please also provide links to code examples that you have written, e.g. in Github repositories or elsewhere. Please don’t hesitate to indicate if you are contributing to open-source software or have any personal projects to share.

Please send any questions about the position to Review of applications will begin on September 24, 2020. The position will remain open until filled. Please name all submitted files like so: LastnameDocname.pdf

Additionally, all employment is contingent on establishing eligibility to work in the United States, including obtaining an appropriate visa, if necessary.  Work outside of the United States is not permitted.

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a consortium of 40+ US institutions and four 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 Gemini Observatory, the National Optical Astronomical Observatory, the National Solar Observatory, the Space Telescope Science Institute, and the construction of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope under cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation and NASA.

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

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 does 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: 
Friday, September 25, 2020
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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