Assistant Science Operation Specialist (SOS)

  Date of publication
  Deadline for applications
  Minimum qualifications:

A Bachelor's degree in physics, astronomy, computer science, engineering or closely related field is required; a Masters is preferred, particularly if it included observing experience.

  Salary range
Please refer to position link


NSF's National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) is the preeminent US national center for ground-based, nighttime optical and infrared astronomy. NOIRLab is a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) which operates as a matrix organization, providing services across a range of programs: Gemini, Rubin, MSO (CTIO and KPNO), and CSDC; with facilities in three geographic locations: Arizona, Chile and Hawai'i. The mission of NOIRLab is to enable breakthrough discoveries in astrophysics by developing and operating state-of-the-art ground-based observatories and providing data products and services for a diverse and inclusive community.

This time, a Science Operations Specialist (SOS) position is available at the NOIRLab Research & Science Services (RSS) group - Telescope Operations division, to work with the International Gemini Observatory - South (La Serena, Chile). An SOS is a member of the Telescope Operations team and performs a number of essential duties in the Observatory's operation. The tasks fall in four main areas: (1) Telescope operation, (2) Queue observing, (3) Daytime quality assessment, instrument calibration and software testing and (4) Project work: specialized work in line with observatory goals and mission; assigned by management. This position does not include personal research.

The Gemini South telescope is largely operated from the base facility in La Serena, but occasionally duties may take place at the summit of Cerro Pachón, at an altitude of about 2700m. La Serena is a popular seaside town with a population of about 200,000, has a temperate climate, and a substantial international astronomical community.

Tasks and activities

Essential Functions:

  • Operates the telescope, instruments and computer systems during night-time and day-time science and engineering use.
  • Performs queue observing and assists visiting and staff scientists and engineers in their use of telescope, instruments and computer systems.
  • Evaluates the quality of scientific data and provides operational, technical and archival support for data handling.
  • Works independently on special projects aligned with Observatory goals.
  • Is responsible for the safety of the personnel, telescope and instruments while working at night.

Other Functions:

  • Other duties as assigned.
  • All AURA employees are responsible for the proper management and control of all AURA property within their work area, whether assigned to them or someone else. This responsibility includes reporting any known missing, stolen, or non-working property in their work area to their supervisor or the AURA Property Officer.
  • Responsible for ensuring compliance with government award terms and conditions assigned to this position or subordinates of this position as defined in the Vela Award Management system.
    Skills and experience

    Required Experience/Skills/Abilities:

    • Must possess organizational and communication skills as well as the ability to learn quickly. Must be fluent in English, while command of the Spanish language is an advantage.
    • A good working knowledge of PyRAF/IRAF, Python, and the Unix/Linux operating system is preferred.
    • Requires prior experience in operation of large telescope.
    • Must be prepared to work night shifts. Must be willing to work weekends and holidays as needed. Schedule is subject to change and varies by person within the group based on their responsibilities.
    • Ability to work productively in a multinational team.
    • Must be reliable, dependable, and flexible - excellent attendance and commitment to work scheduled shifts is necessary.
    • Must be prepared to be responsible for the safety of people and equipment while working at night.
    • Must be a self-learner and self-starter; requires above-average initiative.
    • Requires outstanding judgment and ability to communicate firmly when issues of safety of personnel or the telescope are apparent.
    • Must have a valid driver?s license, clean driving record, and ability to drive 4-wheel vehicles.

    Physical Requirements:

    There are basic physical requirements 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. This position is required to pass medical examination post offer and potentially at specified intervals while employed, if medically necessary.

    Work at high elevation summit sites is required (summit elevations range from 6,800 feet to 14,000 feet). Cerro Pachon: Ability to work at 2,700 meters altitude, sometimes during inclement weather.