HR: Employment Opportunities
 Job posting 14-23
Opening date: March 20, 2014
Closing date: June 30, 2014

TITLE: Astrophysicist IS-1330, Grade 7, 9, $42,830 to $68,103 per year
TYPE OF POSITION: Trust Fund (Non-Federal) Indefinite
LOCATION: Cambridge, MA
AREA OF CONSIDERATION: U.S. Citizens or U.S. Permanent Resident status.

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.


This is the position of Astrophysicist in the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. The purpose of the position is twofold: providing technical support for the operation of the Chandra Data Archive; and providing computer-related support of X-ray astronomy operations and research with the Observatory, including coding, modifying, testing and maintaining software for archive operations; developing and maintaining documentation; and drafting and maintaining materials for websites.

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 to carry out progressively more difficult and responsible tasks. Grade 9: Duties may include but are not limited to maintaining databases for science data archiving software and products; ensuring that incoming science data are archived, distributed to users, and made available to the public; participating in the maintenance of the bibliography database; ensuring that bibcodes are classified in timely and accurately; working with team members in designing, coding and testing a suite of software scripts to automate quality control and science archive maintenance procedures; analyzing data and drawing conclusions regarding the quality, selection, reliability, and scientific content of the data.


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.

In addition to meeting the basic entry qualification requirements, applicants must have specialized experience and/or directly related education in the amounts shown:

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 and experience may be combined for all grade levels for which both education and experience are acceptable.

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.

Visit our SAO website.


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