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Job Title:
Astrophysicist, IS-1330, Grade 13; $102,601 - $133,382 annually
Type of Position:
Permanent - Indefinite Trust Fund Appointment
Job Location:
Cambridge, MA
Posting Opening Date:
Posting Closing Date:



This is the position of Astrophysicist in the Solar, Stellar, and Planetary Sciences Division, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), Cambridge, MA.  The individual will serve as the Project Scientist of the Minor Planet Center. This is a career ladder posting with promotion potential to the grade 14. The selectee may be non-competitively promoted to the next higher level up to the grade 14 upon recommendation of the Professional Accomplishments Evaluation Committee ( PAEC)



  • Supervise the work of postdoctoral researchers, graduate students, or other researchers, which may be related to the duties below.
  • Lead the development of new procedures for processing and classifying observations of minor planets, as submitted to the Minor Planet Center. This may require substantial development of orbital integration and propagation routines, as well as the introduction of modern mathematical and physics techniques to the differential correction problem
  • Work with the Minor Planet Center Director in the analysis of astrometric observations of small bodies in the solar system, using data from ground-based and space-based surveys
  • Represent the Minor Planet Center at conferences and other meetings, in interactions with the Small Bodies Node of the NASA Planetary Data System, or in interactions with the NASA Planetary Defense Coordination Office, as needed by the Minor Planet Center Director
  • Prepare papers on such analyses and related topics for publication in scientific journals and presentation at scientific meetings
  • Perform other assignments as required


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; OR

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.

Grade13: In addition to the basic requirements, candidates must possess one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the grade 12 in the normal line of progressions for this occupation and should include experience in using and modifying the open-source "orbfit" orbit-fitting package for the purpose of fitting orbits of moving objects; and experience in producing and maintaining Gantt charts for the purpose of organizing a team of scientific software developers. 

PART-TIME OR UNPAID EXPERIENCE: Credit will be given for appropriate unpaid work on the same basis as for paid experience. Part-time experience will be credited on the basis of time actually spent in appropriate activities. To receive credit for such experience you must indicate clearly the nature of the duties and responsibilities in each position held and the average number of hours per week spent in such employment on your online resume.

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

Conditions of Employment

You must be fully vaccinated for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized or FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine.


Have an approved Reasonable Accommodation granting an exemption from vaccine requirements. Please see additional information regarding reasonable accommodations below.  

Additional Vacancy Language Regarding COVID-19

The Smithsonian Institution has a mandate requiring all employees (federal and trust), affiliated staff (including volunteers, interns, and fellows), and the contractors who work with us to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 regardless of the employee’s duty location or work arrangement (e.g., onsite, telework, remote work, etc.), subject to such exceptions as required by law. If selected, you will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and submit documentation of proof of vaccination by November 22, 2021 or before appointment or onboarding with the Smithsonian Institution, if after November 22. The Smithsonian Institution will provide additional information regarding what information or documentation will be needed and how you can request a legally required exemption from this requirement. This requirement applies to employees, affiliated staff, contractors who are working on-site, and those teleworking in whole or in part. Limited exemptions to the Smithsonian Institution’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate will be considered on a case-by-case basis for selected candidates who inform the Smithsonian that they cannot be vaccinated because of a disability, including certain medical conditions the Center for Disease Control (CDC) considers contraindications to the vaccine, or because of a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance. Additional information and instructions regarding Smithsonian’s COVID-19 mandate will be provided at the time of selection.   

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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