HR: Employment Opportunities
 Job posting 14-08
Opening date: February 06, 2014
Closing date: May 23, 2014

TITLE: Astrophysicist (Technical Assistant) IS-1330, Grade 7, 9, $42,830 to $68,103/annually
TYPE OF POSITION: Trust Fund (non-federal) Indefinite
LOCATION: Cambridge, MA
AREA OF CONSIDERATION: U.S. Citizens or U.S. Permanent Resident status.

Two positions may be filled. First consideration may be made 14 days after the opening date. Selection may be made at either the grade 7 or 9 grade level. This is a career ladder opportunity with promotion potential to grade 11. A candidate selected at grade 7 or 9, may be non-competitively promoted to the next higher grade level, up to grade 11, upon the recommendation of the supervisor based on classification requirements, satisfactory performance and qualifications of the employee.


The employee in this position provides technical scientific support of x-ray astronomy research and space observatory operations using the Chandra X-ray Observatory. In concert with scientific staff, Technical Assistants plan and schedule observations. The Technical Assistants also are involved in coding, modifying, debugging, and documenting software for mission planning; developing and maintaining databases; drafting and maintaining materials for websites; and participating in the daily operations of the Chandra Observatory. Grade 7: The individual is at the developmental trainee level, where assignments combine performance of work with orientation and supervised on-the-job-training. Assignments are designed to develop the employee for work at a higher level. Grade 9: Duties may include analyzing data and drawing conclusions regarding scientific contents for the data; designing, developing, testing, and modifying new and existing computer code; developing and analyzing algorithms; running software and analyzing data output; mission planning, simulations, and modeling; responding to on-call procedures; developing, maintaining and improving documentation on mission planning procedures; participating actively in teleconferences, meetings, and other communication activities; performing other duties as assigned.


In addition to meeting the basic entry qualification requirements, applicants must have specialized experience and/or directly related education in the amounts shown below: Grade 7: One year of specialized experience equivalent to the grade 5 level in the normal line of progression for the occupation. Experience at this level normally would have included modifying and maintaining software for astronomy projects, providing technical support for an astronomical observatory, or carrying out research projects in physics or astronomy. OR Completion of one-year of graduate level education OR Superior Academic Achievement (SAA) when it provided the applicant with the criteria necessary to do the work of the position. For SAA requirements, please go to OPM website: Grade 9: One year of specialized experience equivalent to the grade 7 level in the normal line of progression for the occupation. Experience at this level normally would have included developing and documenting software for astronomical research or operations, completing research projects in physics or astronomy, or providing operational support for an astronomical observatory. OR 2 years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a master's degree or equivalent graduate degree

Education: All applicants must meet these Basic Requirements: A. Degree in one or a combination of astronomy, physics, mathematics, or space science. The course work must have included differential and integral calculus and 12 semester hours in astronomy and/or physics. OR B. Combination of education and experience - at least 30 semester hours of courses equivalent to a major in any combination of astronomy, space science, physics, and mathematics with required course work as shown in A above, plus appropriate experience or additional education.

For information on qualification requirements, see Qualification Standards Handbook for General Schedule Positions viewable on the web at

APPLICATION PROCEDURE: We will only accept applications on line for this position. To view the complete vacancy posting, requirements and the procedures to apply, please visit: USAJOBS

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity in our workplace.

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