NEO Surveyor Staff Scientist

Job Summary

Scientific / Technical Staff
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement

Job Description

Caltech is a world-renowned science and engineering institute that marshals some of the world's brightest minds and most innovative tools to address fundamental scientific questions. We thrive on finding and cultivating talented people who are passionate about what they do. Join us and be a part of the diverse Caltech community.

Job Summary

IPAC at the California Institute of Technology is accepting applications for a Position Reconstruction Scientist to work on the NEO Surveyor program. NEO Surveyor is a NASA Planetary Defense mission that will launch in the mid-2020’s. NEO Surveyor consists of a passively-cooled 50 cm telescope located at Sun-Earth L1 equipped with a wide-field camera that will image the sky simultaneously in two mid-infrared bands. Operations will be optimized to detect, track and characterize Near Earth Objects (NEOs) and more distant small bodies in the solar system. Accurate astrometry of objects detected by NEO Surveyor are critical for carrying out the mission’s objectives.

IPAC is developing and will operate the Survey Data System (NSDS) for NEO Surveyor that ingests imaging and engineering data from the flight system, processes those data into calibrated image and source detection products, performs automated searches for moving solar system objects, assesses the quality of the survey data, and distributes data products to NASA archives and the user community.

Caltech is more than a world-renowned science and engineering research and education institution; it is a community of curious and passionate individuals who collaborate to understand and solve complex scientific and societal challenges. Caltech offers an exciting and dynamic work environment, exceptional career development opportunities, competitive pay programs, great benefits, and the opportunity to participate in many campus programs and activities. Exceptional employees are critical to Caltech’s success.

IPAC, part of the Physics, Math, and Astronomy Division at Caltech (, partners with NASA, NSF, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL, operated for NASA by Caltech), and the world-wide research community to advance exploration of our universe. IPAC provides science operations, user support, data and archive services, and scientific vision to maximize discovery with observatories both in space and on the ground. Scientists at IPAC have access to Palomar Observatory and other research facilities.

Job Duties

The Position Reconstruction Scientist will report to the NSDS Lead Scientist and System Architect. Their duties will include:

Working with the NSDS System Architect to design, test, and marshal into operations the NSDS Position Reconstruction subsystem that derives astrometric calibrations for NEO Survey observations, and the on-sky positions of detected solar system and background objects.

Documenting the design of the Position Reconstruction subsystem and its key interfaces with other NSDS subsystems.

Participate in designing, conducting, and documenting tests to assess the performance of the position reconstruction subsystem and validating results against project requirements. This will be performed prior to NEO Surveyor launch using simulated data and following launch using on-sky data.

The role will be expected to plan and conduct an independent research program that ideally makes use of data returned by the NEO Surveyor, and to be an active participant in the general activities of the IPAC Science Staff.

Basic Qualifications:

  • PhD in Astronomy, Planetary Science, or related discipline.
  • At least 5 years of relevant experience, including the derivation of astrometric calibrations for data acquired from astronomical imaging surveys.
  • Knowledge of scientific programming for analyzing astronomical data and testing calibration methodologies.
  • Good communication skills, including writing documents that describe software design and interfaces, or test and data analysis results.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience in developing robust software for inclusion in automated pipelines.
  • Experience conducting statistical analyses of extremely large astronomical data sets.

Required Documents

  • Cover Letter
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Planned Research Statement
  • Names and Contact information of 3 references

Application deadline is August 30, 2021 via the Caltech Careers Website

EEO Statement

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Caltech is a VEVRAA Federal Contractor. Disability Accommodations

If you would like to request an accommodation in completing this application, interviewing, or otherwise participating in the employee selection process, please direct your inquiries to Caltech Recruiting at [email protected]

Application Details

Publication Start Date
2021 Jul 21
Application Deadline
2021 Aug 18


Caltech Recruiting