HR: Employment Opportunities
 Job posting 18-32
Opening date: April 13, 2018
Closing date: May 4, 2018

TITLE: Physicist, GS-1310; Grade 14; $113,929.00 to $148,108.00 per year
TYPE OF POSITION: Federal – Career/Career-Conditional
LOCATION: Cambridge, MA
AREA OF CONSIDERATION: U.S. citizens, nationals or those who owe allegiance to the U.S.


The purpose of the position is to provide technical expertise to the development, operation, and maintenance of state- of-the-art detector systems for astronomical observations; and to participate in both the development of new telescopes and observing facilities and the specification of new computer systems for the control of instruments and telescopes. Support will typically include research into state of the art aspects of hardware design or components in order to determine the nature of the technical challenges to be resolved.


1. Develops and maintains state-of-the-art detector systems for astronomical observations with SAO's telescopes and elsewhere; including the development of CCD and CMOS cameras for imaging and two-dimensional spectroscopy, infrared array cameras for imaging and spectroscopy, and associated instrumentation

2. Keeps abreast of new technological developments in areas such as solid-state array technology, cryogenics, and vacuum systems in order to serve as a resource and expert consultant for colleagues within and outside SAO; and to independently conceive, plan, design, implement, and document detector systems that satisfy the operational requirements of astrophysical data collection instrumentation that is at or advancing state-of-the-art.

3. Formulates and leads original scientific research and development efforts for the implementation of new state-of- the-art detector systems and associated instruments and computers on SAO's telescopes and elsewhere. Prepares papers documenting research results and instrument performance for publication in scientific or technical journals or for presentation at scientific or technical meetings. Participates in scientific and technical meetings to discuss current research and recent technological developments with colleagues in the field and with commercial suppliers. Serves as technical consultant to colleagues within and outside SAO, and prepares confidential reports as a referee to external scientific agencies as requested.

4. Supervises the construction, testing, scientific evaluation, documentation, and final installation of new detector and instrumentation systems; provides technical direction to these projects’ teams of engineers, technicians, and other scientists; and has the ultimate responsibility for the maintenance, repair, rebuild, and upgrade of detectors and instruments that have been deployed.

5. Assumes major responsibility for planning and design in detector-related areas, including electronics and signal processing, optical and mechanical systems, vacuum and cryogenic systems, and interfaces with instrument and telescope control computers.


Minimum Education Requirements:

A)Degree in one of a combination of astronomy, physics, mathematics, space science or electronics, including course work in differential and integral calculus and 12 semester hours in astronomy or physics;


B)A combination of education and experience equivalent to A above including 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.

Grade 14: In addition to the basic requirements, candidates must possess one year equivalent to the GS-13 which is defined as work on the design, fabrication, test, deployment and maintenance of electro-optical systems for scientific instrumentation for use in astronomy including cameras, data acquisition, and motion controller systems.

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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