Observing Specialist

AURA/Vera C. Rubin Observatory

Tucson, AZ

Job posting number: #7093001

Posted: January 27, 2022

Application Deadline: February 24, 2022

Job Description

The Vera C. Rubin Observatory is an 8.4 m telescope designed to conduct an imaging survey over much of the southern sky repeatedly over a 10-year period. The data from the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) will be unprecedented in scale and sensitivity to faint objects and will enable a wide range of science from exploration of the Time Domain to Dark Matter and Dark Energy. The sky survey from Rubin’s Observatory is sure to fundamentally change how humanity perceives and understands the Universe in which we live.

The Vera C. Rubin Observatory is now in the exciting phase of integration and commissioning and will become operational in 2024. The project is thus seeking two (2) experienced, energetic and qualified Observing Specialists to be part of the team that will bring the observatory to its routine operation to carry-out the 10-year survey. The Observing Specialist team is expected to grow as we near full operations in early 2024 to reach 13 (including several specialists provided by our DOE funded partner, SLAC).

The qualified candidate will be able to assist the commissioning team in daily activities such as assembly and testing and nightly activities using the 1.2m Auxiliary Telescope, meant for atmospheric calibration, now undergoing its own commissioning effort. The qualified candidate will learn how to control and operate a wide variety of systems that make up the Rubin Observatory including the main telescope itself, its commissioning instrument (ComCam), the main science camera (LSSTCam), the calibration systems, and more.

The qualified candidates will have a broad range of skills from understanding software scripts in Python to hands on technical work with hardware and electronics. These specialists will also be cross trained to assist either engineers, technicians or scientists in areas such as characterization of hardware performance, routine maintenance operations and data analysis, making this position more interesting than a “standard” telescope operator position. For example, the Rubin Observing Specialists will be trained and responsible for operating both the primary Simonyi Survey Telescope and its LSST camera, the Auxiliary Telescope, and for prompt assessment of environmental conditions, optical performance and image quality.

Initially, the successful candidates will work with the Auxiliary telescope while slowly getting more involved in the main telescope components. This position will report to the Commissioning Manager (or designee).

Essential Functions:

-Support Nighttime commissioning by:
--Developing and documenting procedures associated with the operations of the main Rubin Observatory Simonyi Survey Telescope and its Auxiliary Telescope (AuxTel) and
associated subsystems.
--Safely operating the AuxTel and/or the main telescope at night.
--Becoming familiar with the main telescope and AuxTel operation and monitoring software and their respective GUIs.
--Monitoring summit weather conditions, and executing predetermined actions when conditions are adverse for operations.
--Monitoring main telescope and AuxTel subsystems’ health through subsystems GUIs.
--Software basic troubleshooting and debugging. Rubin Observatory has an Engineering Facility Database (EFD) that will be used to query different telemetry from different
subsystems and understand the sources of issues.
--Basic evaluation of the delivered image and spectra quality.
--Conducting calibration data taking with both telescopes (e.g. flat fielding) The on-duty Observing Specialists are also the primary authors of the nightly observing report that
consists of their nightly log entries and automated technical assessments derived from the EFD, including fault reporting.
-Supporting Daytime commissioning by:
--Participating in some daytime software test activities.
--Acquire basic knowledge of all the subsystems to understand their functions and operation.
--Participate in the development, review and refinement of the Main and Auxiliary telescopes operation procedures.
--Provide feedback to optimize the telescope’s operations and monitoring software.

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.

Required Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

-At least three years of hands-on experience in at least one of the following areas is required:
--Operation of a major ground-based telescope.
--Optical and/or infrared observing techniques.
--Data reduction and analysis of optical and/or infrared ground based data.
--Experience with Astronomical/Physics instruments.
-Bachelor’s degree in physics, astronomy, computer science, engineering or a closely related field; a Masters is preferred, particularly if it includes observing experience.
-Must be fluent in English, while command of the Spanish language is an advantage.
-Issue tracking knowledge such as Jira or equivalent.
-High level software scripting knowledge such as Python (preferred) or equivalent.
-Must be able to work either at day or night on the Cerro Pachón summit, which is at 3,000m (9,000 feet).
-Must be willing to stay at the summit for several days/nights on end (food and lodging provided).
-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.
-Must be prepared to be responsible for the safety of people and equipment while working at night.
-Must possess organizational and communication skills as well as the ability to learn quickly.
-Must be reliable, dependable, and flexible - excellent attendance and commitment to work scheduled shifts is necessary.
-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.
-Ability to work productively in a multinational team.
-Requires a valid driver’s license, clean driving record and the ability to drive 4WD vehicles.

AURA offers an excellent benefits package including paid time off and retirement plan contributions, competitive salary commensurate with experience, and a very attractive work environment.

If you would like to apply for this opportunity, please submit your CV/resume along with a cover letter in English (PDF files). Also, kindly provide contact information of 3 professional references in your application, as references will be contacted later in the recruiting process. Please name any attachments with the following format: Lastname.Docname. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

To be considered in the first round of reviews, please submit your application by February 24, 2022. The position will remain open until filled. Application documents that are not uploaded as part of the application may be sent to [email protected]

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

At Rubin Observatory we are committed to diversity and inclusion; 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

** Rubin Observatory has the majority of 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 **

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.

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 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.

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More Info

Job posting number:#7093001
Application Deadline:2022-2-24
Employer Location:Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy
United States
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