HR: Employment Opportunities
 Job posting 17-70
Opening date: October 2, 2017
Closing date:01/31/2018

TITLE: Astrophysicist, IS-3310, Grades 13, 14, 15, $96,411 to $164,200 annually
TYPE OF POSITION: Trust Fund, Indefinite
DIVISION: - HEA High Energy Astrophysics Division
LOCATION: Cambridge, MA
AREA OF CONSIDERATION: All qualified candidates

First consideration may be made 14 days after the opening date

This is the position of Astrophysicist in the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO). The purpose of this position is to support flight operations of the Chandra High Resolution Camera (HRC). The position is charged with the technical and scientific responsibility for formulating and conducting developmental research in the area of x-ray astronomy and high-energy astrophysics. The work will include the planning and design of experimental apparatus to evaluate detector concepts and the analysis of results, the analysis and interpretation of experimental data, the proposing, planning, and designing of observing programs, the analysis and interpretation of observations including relevant optical and radio results, and the publication of significant scientific results. Results are expected to contribute to the understanding of the nature of astrophysical problems and advances in the acquisition of astrophysical data. The employee's prime responsibility is to support the High Resolution Camera (HRC) mission operation by providing insight into the flight performance of the HRC both through analysis and experiments with the flight instrument and the flight back-up HRC.


Possible duties may include:

Provide experimental support, including planning, carrying out and analyzing appropriate calibration measurements, and interfacing and collaborating with members of the Chandra X-ray Center (CXC), contracting agencies, industry, and other scientific groups as regards HRC flight performance. Formulate, devise, plan, and execute experiments using the flight back-up HRC for measurements of scientific instruments (SIs). Develop suitable calibration investigation of the instrument performance, specify and demonstrate the equipment and techniques used, and quantify SI limitations by using analyses and experimental data.

Conduct research in the conception, design, and study of advanced detector or optics concepts for x-ray astronomy. Design and build experimental apparatus for testing and evaluating new instruments. Propose and carry out experiments involving the development of X-ray instrumentation leading to flight opportunities in sub-orbital and satellite missions, including the analysis and theoretical interpretation of results. Responsible for project implementation, including obtaining funding, supervising necessary scientific and support personnel, and interfacing with NASA or other contracting agencies to establish necessary requirements, assurance, and operation of experiments.

Conduct research with x-ray satellite observations, especially Chandra, and with other space and ground-based facilities. Interact with scientists at SAO and at various institutions to coordinate activities in areas such as planning x-ray observing and developmental programs and carrying out observations at various wavelengths. Develop computer algorithms as necessary, interpret the results of these observations doing theoretical calculations when appropriate. Perform and/or obtain the results of other necessary supporting astronomical observations, e.g., optical, radio, IR, etc. The main thrust of these activities is to support the assessment of the flight performance of the HRC but will often lead to results of astrophysical significance.

Prepare papers containing research results for publication in scientific journals and presentation at conferences. Participate in scientific meetings and conferences to discuss current research with other scientists

Give advice on scientific and technical approaches to others working on the same or related projects, as appropriate

Perform other duties as assigned.


Basic Requirements:

A. Degree: in one or a combination of astronomy, physics, mathematics, space science, or electronics. 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, mathematics, and electronics, 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 below:

Grade 13:

A minimum of one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the grade 12 level in the normal line of progression for the occupation which demonstrates the origination of new techniques in the acquisition and management of data, establishing new criteria in the area of data analysis and instrument development, the development of new observational information, the supervision of at least one subordinate or postdoc or completed a supervisory training program, and authorship of several scholarly articles in professional refereed journals and/or conference presentations.

Grade 14:

A minimum of one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the grade 13 level in the normal line of progression for the occupation which should demonstrate advanced knowledge of modern computer techniques, including simulation and data analysis techniques. The candidate formulates and conducts independent research program(s) aligned with the strategic objectives of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, analyzing and publishing research results, submission of successful proposals for research funding; and developing and applying instruments for astrophysical research.

Grade 15:

A minimum of one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the grade 14 which should include experience conceiving, formulating and conducting strong independent and original programs of astrophysical research aligned with the strategic interests of the SAO; analyzing and publishing research results; supervising junior scientists and post-doctoral researchers, leading the creation and submission of successful proposals for research funding; serving on national and international scientific committees, and refereeing papers for scientific journals.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE: We will only accept applications on line for this position. For complete information about this position and the online application procedures, please visit: USAJOBS

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

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