Operations Scientist

Job Summary

Scientific / Technical Staff
SKA Observatory
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement

Job Description

An ideal role for a radio astronomer with Observatory experience who is keen to contribute to the operational planning and commissioning of the SKAO and become involved in the science operations of the SKA precursor, MeerKAT.

The SKAO Operations group is seeking to employ up to four talented and motivated Operations Scientists to join the SKA-Mid team based at the Science Operations Centre in Cape Town, South Africa.  With the SKA now in construction, planning for the operations of the SKA has entered an exciting phase. In order to support our planning, we are looking for individuals with broad operational and scientific experience within the full range of activities required to run a successful radio observatory. This includes knowledge of the telescope systems, data processing and analysis, as well as experience serving a diverse and distributed user community.

The Operations Scientists will draw on their experience, expertise within their established networks and the broader astronomical community to inform the detailed SKAO operational plan and policies. They will also be required to support the planning and execution of scientific commissioning and verification for the SKA Observatory. Good organisational, communication and collaborative skills are required for this role. In addition, under a joint agreement between the SKAO and SARAO, the SKA-Mid Science Operations team will work jointly with the SARAO MeerKAT operations team to support MeerKAT science operations and commissioning of the MeerKAT extension, until the MeerKAT telescope is integrated into the SKA. This provides an opportunity to gain additional experience in an active observatory environment.

The roles are offered on a full time, permanent basis and the Operations Scientists will periodically need to work outside of normal office hours when fulfilling the Astronomer on Duty support role.

We encourage applications from under-represented groups such as women and individuals with disabilities, as well as open conversations during the recruitment process in relation to any specific requirements.


Under the direction of the SKA-Mid Head of Science Operations, the successful candidate will support the future science operations of the SKA Observatory by:

  • Supporting the development and continual refinement of the science operational model for the SKA telescopes.
  • Ensuring consistency between the SKA System Level requirements with those needed for the successful future operation of the SKA telescopes.
  • Contributing to commissioning and science verification of MeerKAT Extension and SKA-Mid Telescope, including the development of plans, requirements for early array releases and test procedures.
  • Supporting the development of software needed to operate the SKA Telescopes or necessary for the SKA user community.
  • Effectively collaborating with SKAO staff across the three sites. Occasional travel to the SKAO telescope sites in Australia and/or South Africa will be necessary (typically once a year for up to 2 weeks).
  • Supporting MeerKAT science operations by serving as Astronomer on Duty on a roster basis, conducting feasibility reviews and providing user support as needed.
  • Optionally undertaking a programme of personal research up to 25% of employed hours.

Compensation and Benefits

Included Benefits

ZAR 650,000 - 900,000 depending on experience, plus excellent benefits

Application Details

Publication Start Date
2024 Jan 27
Application Deadline
2024 Mar 08