System Performance Scientist

AURA/Vera C. Rubin Observatory

Tucson, AZ

Job posting number: #7092999

Posted: January 27, 2022

Application Deadline: February 24, 2022

Job Description

The Vera C. Rubin Observatory (Rubin Observatory hereafter), is a state-of-the-art astronomical imaging survey system from observing, image acquisition through to production of scientific data products. Rubin Observatory is a fully integrated facility, designed to conduct the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST), an unprecedented decade-long time-domain optical imaging survey of the night sky. Rubin Observatory includes the observatory itself in Chile to acquire images and a worldwide distributed set of facilities to process the data and provide access to the global Rubin community. The LSST will map ~20,000 square degrees of the visible sky from the observing site in Chile every few nights in six optical spectral bands to address four key science themes: 1) Probing Dark Energy and Dark Matter; 2) Taking an Inventory of the Solar System; 3) Exploring the Transient Optical Sky; 4) Mapping the Milky Way

To achieve the LSST’s primary scientific goals, a detailed understanding of the integrated as-built system performance of the Rubin observatory, telescope, camera, image processing and their relation to final derived data products is required. As the project enters its integration, verification and commissioning phase, it is crucial to study the impact of the full system, including as-built mirrors, lenses, sensors and associated electronics, mechanical tolerances, and operational and environmental effects, on the overall integrated system performance as delivered to operations. Further into commissioning, the focus will shift to studying the systematic properties of the data and derived data products to uncover potential hardware/software issues (including but not restricted to measurements of dome seeing, vibrations, thermal variations, active optics feedback, pipeline bugs…).

To achieve this deep understanding of the overall system, the project has developed and used several tools and analysis processes since the beginning of construction, mostly written in Python.

The System Performance Scientist will lead the continuing assessment of the Project’s technical and scientific performance metrics based on as-built data as we move further into integration, verification, and eventually operation, by building on and optimizing the Project’s existing tooling.

This is a unique opportunity to be part of an exciting time for the Rubin Observatory and be part of the team that makes it come to life and deliver groundbreaking science to a wide and diverse community.

The System Performance Scientist will be a key member of the System Integration and Test and Commissioning (SIT-Com) team, with activities based in La Serena, Chile and in Tucson, AZ, USA. This position can be based in La Serena, Chile or in Tucson, AZ, USA with frequent extended trips to Chile. The position is expected to last through construction (concluding late 2023) with the expectation to extend the position through into operations.

They will collaborate closely with the Project Scientist, System and Subsystem Scientists as well as with the integrated SIT-Com team. The System Performance Scientist will report to the System Scientist.

Essential Functions:

-Main system-level point of contact for all the as-built data.
-Work closely with the Project Scientist, the System scientist, Subsystem Scientists, and other project personnel on the performance evaluation of the system.
-Responsible for updating the error budget tree as commissioning evolves.


-PhD in Astronomy, physics or related fields
-At least 5 years of related experience, including commissioning scientific hardware and/or software systems, preferably those related to astronomy.
-Experience developing and testing/verifying optical systems in the field or laboratory.
-Outstanding analytical skills
-Working knowledge of Python (main project language) or similar (e.g C++, Java).
-Strong track record of problem solving
-Able to effectively communicate and cooperate with others at all levels of the organization
-Ability to work collaboratively with large globally distributed teams
-Ability to speak and write effectively, with experience in the preparation of comprehensive technical report
-Willingness to travel to the observatory locations as the need arises

Preferred Characteristics:

-Knowledge in use of Zemax, Code V, or similar optical design and analysis tools
-Experience working with github and associated processes or similar.

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 and computer usage may be required.
-When working at the summit, ability to work at 8,900 feet
-Some travel may be necessary both domestic and international

We are committed to diversity and inclusion at Rubin Observatory. Our managing organization, AURA, as a leader in the astronomical community, 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 http://www.aura-astronomy.org/diversity.asp

Please list 3 professional references in your application (references will only be contacted later in the recruitment process) and attach a CV or resume (PDF files preferred) to your application. Please name any attachments with the following format: LastnameDocname. Application documents that are not uploaded as part of the application may be sent to [email protected]

For full consideration, please submit your application by February 24, 2022.

Preference will be given to qualified internal candidates and 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 [email protected]

COVID-19 Policy Update: AURA has implemented a mandatory vaccination policy that requires all employees to be vaccinated, unless qualified for an exemption based on medical or religious reasons. All new employees will be required to comply with this policy and will be required to present proof of full vaccination or submit a completed request (including supporting documents, if applicable) for an exemption at least five (5) business days prior to their start of employment. Individuals who fail to meet this deadline may have their employment start date delayed.

This is a requirement for all employees working onsite or from home (telework or hybrid remote work schedule). Currently the vaccination requirement does not apply to any future AURA employees working in Chile, regardless of their nationality or type of contract.

AURA currently offers a mix-model workspace (office & virtual) and stimulating environments for all, with most staff working virtually from home during the COVID-19 crisis through early 2022. The safety of our staff and community is our top priority. We will continue to interview and screen candidates in this new virtual landscape and offers of employment can be extended and new hires will onboard virtually. Employees are required to be residents in their base job location within a limited time from their start date.

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 NOIRLab, 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.

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More Info

Job posting number:#7092999
Application Deadline:2022-2-24
Employer Location:Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy
United States
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