Assistant Science Operation Specialist

Job Summary

Scientific / Technical Staff
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement
In-Person Location(s)

Hilo, HI
United States

Job Description

The NSF’s National Optical Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) has an immediate opening for a Science Operations Specialist to work with the international Gemini Observatory in Hilo, HI, within the NOIRLab Telescope Operations division. The successful candidate will join our international team operating two of the world’s premier ground-based telescopes in Hawaii and Chile. The incumbent will be hired at Assistant, Associate, or Principal rank appropriate to the qualifications of the successful candidate. We are looking for a talented individual to become part of the Telescope Operations Division at NOIRLab.

A Science Operations Specialist (SOS) position is available at the NOIRLab Telescope Operations division, to work with the International Gemini Observatory - North (Hilo, HI). An SOS is a member of the Telescope Operations team and performs a number of essential duties in the Observatory’s operation. The tasks fall in four main areas: (1) Telescope operation, (2) Queue observing, (3) Daytime quality assessment, instrument calibration and software testing and (4) Project work: specialized work in line with observatory goals and mission; assigned by management. This position does not include personal research.

The Gemini North telescope is largely operated from the base facility in Hilo, but occasionally duties may take place at the summit of Maunakea, at an altitude of about 14,000 ft. Hilo is a small city on the windward side of the big Island of Hawai’i with a population of about 45,000, has a tropical climate, and a substantial international astronomical community.

The SOS essential job duties include the following:

  • Operates the telescope, instruments and computer systems during night-time and day-time science and engineering use.
  • Performs queue observing and assists visiting and staff scientists and engineers in their use of telescope, instruments and computer systems.
  • Evaluates the quality of scientific data and provides operational, technical and archival support for data handling.
  • Works independently on special projects aligned with Observatory goals.
  • Is responsible for the safety of the personnel, telescope and instruments while working at night.

Job Requirements:

  • Must be willing to work weekends and holidays as needed. Schedule is subject to change and varies by person within the group based on their responsibilities.
  • Must be prepared to work night shifts.
  • Must be prepared to be responsible for the safety of people and equipment while working at night.
  • Must possess organizational and communication skills as well as the ability to learn quickly. Must be fluent in English, while command of the Spanish language is an advantage.
  • Must be reliable, dependable, and flexible - excellent attendance and commitment to work scheduled shifts is necessary.
  • Must be a self-learner and self-starter; requires above-average initiative.
  • Requires outstanding judgment and ability to communicate firmly when issues of safety of personnel or the telescope are apparent.
  • Ability to work productively in a multinational team.
  • A good working knowledge of PyRAF/IRAF, Python, and the Unix/Linux operating system is preferred.
  • Requires significant prior experience in operation of large telescopes.
  • Requires a valid driver’s license, clean driving record and the ability to drive 4WD vehicles.

Education Required:

A Bachelor’s degree in physics, astronomy, computer science, engineering or closely related field is required; a Masters is preferred, particularly if it included observing experience.

Other Requirements:

All AURA employees are responsible for the proper management and control of all AURA property within their work area, whether assigned to them or someone else. This responsibility includes reporting any known missing, stolen, or non-working property in their work area to their supervisor or the AURA Property Officer.  

Responsible for ensuring compliance with government award terms and conditions assigned to this position or subordinates of this position as defined in the Vela Award Management system.

Physical Demands:

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to sit; use hands to finger, handle, or feel and talk or hear.
  • The employee is occasionally required to stand; walk; reach with hands and arms and stoop; kneel; crouch; or crawl.
  • The employee must regularly lift and /or move up to 10 pounds and occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 pounds.
  • Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, depth perception and ability to adjust focus.
  • Must possess - sufficient mobility, strength, or dexterity in both arms and hands and both legs to a) reach upward, sideways, downward to work with paper files; b) sufficient mobility and dexterity to utilize computer systems, fax machines, copiers, and other office machines.
  • Must possess – 1) ability to read and understand instructions, drawings, safety guides, and other written materials necessary to perform job; 2) sufficient visual capacity to perform the applicable functions without assistance of visual aids other than eye contacts or eye glasses; 3) sufficient spoken aural capacity to hear and understand instructions, warning bells, fire alarms, or shouted instructions without assistance of auditory aids other than a hearing aid; and 4) ability to impart information orally so that others understand and can respond appropriately.
  • Must be able to operate a four-wheel drive vehicle on rough roads in mountainous terrain.
  • Must be willing to support observing systems after normal working hours.
  • Some travel may be necessary in or outside the United States and Chile.
  • For summit positions, consider: Cerro Pachon: Ability to work at 8,900’

Salary Range: $59,729-$81,105. The final salary will depend on skills, qualifications and experience.” 

How to Apply:

The position will remain open until it is filled. To be considered in the first round of reviews, please submit your application by May 31, 2024. 

  • Please submit a cover letter and a CV or resume in English, PDF files preferred. Please name any attachments with the following format: Lastname Docname. 
  • Application documents that are not uploaded as part of the application may be sent to [email protected]
  • Please enter 3 professional references in your application (references will only be contacted later in the recruitment process). 

Veterans, disabled individuals or wounded warriors needing assistance with the employment process should request assistance at [email protected] 

Compensation and Benefits


Application Details

Application Instructions
Please Apply Online
Publication Start Date
2024 May 07
Application Deadline
2024 May 31