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Job Title:
Astrophysicist (Technical Assistant) IS-1330, Grade 9-11; $64,251 - $101,055 per year
Type of Position:
Permanent - Indefinite Trust Fund Appointment
Division/Department:
Facility:
Job Location:
Cambridge, MA
Posting Opening Date:
Posting Closing Date:

This position is open to all qualified candidates. First consideration may be made 14 days after the opening date. Selection to be made at the grade 09 or grade 11. If selected at the grade 09 the applicant maybe non competitively promoted to the higher grade level up to the grade 11 level upon the recommendation of the supervisor based on classification requirements, satisfactory performance and qualifications of the employee.

Summary: This is the position of Astrophysicist (Technical Assistant) in the Chandra X-ray Center (CXC) Data System Operations/Archives Group of the High Energy Astrophysics Division, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.  

Duties: 

The purpose of the position is two-fold: (1) to provide technical support for the operation of the Chandra Data Archive; and (2) provide 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.

  1. Maintain databases for science data archiving software and science data products. Ensure that incoming science data are archived, distributed to users, and made available to the public in a timely fashion.  Develop and organize a database of science data reduction results for use by scientific staff.  Write software code to access and correct the databases.  Trace science archiving errors if anomalous situations arise and make any necessary modifications to the databases.   Refine operational procedures as needed and document them in an Operations Handbook.
  2. Participate in the maintenance of the bibliography database. Ensure that bibcodes are classified in a timely fashion.  Follow-up with authors when obtaining data links.  Refine classification procedures as needed and document them in an Operations Handbook.  Classification consists of reading and analyzing astronomical papers which use Chandra data and documenting how the data was used based on criteria developed by the archive scientists.
  3. Work as a team member in designing, coding and testing a suite of software scripts to automate quality control and science archive maintenance procedures. Implement an associated automated system of alerts so science data archiving and data distribution problems can be addressed in a timely fashion.  Maintain configuration control of the archive operations automated system.  Design entire system to be fully integrated with efficient coding techniques, code review, and full documentation.
  4. Develop numerical algorithms to be used in science archive and data quality assessment in collaboration with staff scientists. Design, code, test and debug software.  Generate and maintain software documentation. Analyze data and draw conclusions regarding the quality, selection, reliability, and scientific content of the data.  Assist scientific staff in acquiring data.  Organize and summarize results in reports for the scientific staff to utilize in their research.  Develop, test, and modify new and existing computer code to accomplish these data analysis activities.
  5. Performs other related duties as assigned.

In addition to the duties above duties at the grade 11 may include but are not limited to:

  1. Process data acquired by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory using standard data processing software system and automated tools with gui interface. Ensure timely and accurate processing of the data products. Produce quick-look data for evaluation of instrument performance. Modify the processing configuration when necessary to produce test data or reprocess data with improved calibrations and software. Reprocess the entire Chandra dataset with the most current software when appropriate. 
  2. Perform Validation and Verification (V&V) on the data products produced for science observations from Chandra.evaluate each observation for compliance with observer’s requests, acceptable instrument and spacecraft performance, correct data reduction procedures, and the scientific usefulness of the data. Analyze the data and draw conclusions regarding the quality, selection, reliability, and scientific content of the data. Inform observer of any issues with the observation that would affect the scientific conclusions. Evaluate quantitative parameters concerning instrument and spacecraft performance against thresholds. Determine when reprocessing of the data would be beneficial and direct that activity. Alert the observer and appropriate internal staff when a problem is identified in the data. 
  3. Perform Quality Assurance (QA) of the products of the pipeline for the processing of the Chandra Source Catalog. Evaluate each QA for compliance with the scientific standards of the catalog, and correct issues according to pre-determined procedures to allow smooth processing of the catalog. Ensure timely delivery of QAs and provide feedback to the technical and scientific team responsible for the catalog. 
  4. Assist the DPAOps team lead in the interface with other DS teams and CXC groups as necessary by reporting on the status of data processing.

Qualifications:

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 the basic requirements, candidates for the grade 09 must also possess one of the following:

2 years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a master's degree or master's or equivalent graduate degree

or 1 year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the GS-07 level in the normal line of progression for this occupation.  Specialized experience is experience that has equipped the applicant with the particular competencies/knowledge, skills, and abilities to successfully perform the duties of the position such as experience in the operations of an astronomical mission or astronomical data archive.

or Combination of successfully completed graduate level education and experience equivalent to the above.

In addition to the basic requirements, candidates for the grade 11 must also possess one of the following:

3 years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a Ph.D. degree or Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree or

 1 year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the GS-09 level in the normal line of progression for this occupation.  Specialized experience is experience that has equipped the applicant with the particular competencies/knowledge, skills, and abilities to successfully perform the duties of the position such as experience in the operations of an astronomical mission and astronomical data archive, and the analysis of astronomical data.

or Combination of successfully completed graduate level education and experience equivalent to the above.

Qualification requirements are derived from the Office of Personnel Management's Qualification Standards Handbook for General Schedule Positions viewable on the web at http://www.opm.gov/qualifications/Standards/IORs/gs1300/1330.htm

Application Procedures:  We are only accepting online applications for this position. To apply please visit USAJOBS

For the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccination requirements and its impact on your application, click on Smithsonian Institution’s Frequently Asked Questions.

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

 

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