SKA Data Scientist

Job Summary

ASTRON, Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy
Astronomy & Operations
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement

Job Description

Are you interested in working at an internationally leading scientific research institute with a stimulating environment? Would you like to develop skills and novel experimental methods on systems using technologies that produce cutting-edge science now and contribute to the development of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA)? Then, you might be our new

                                                                                                                                   SKA Data Scientist

ASTRON is involved in the assembly, integration and verification (AIV) of SKA-low, one of the two SKA telescopes that is being built in Australia and that will become operational in 2027/2028. Crucial for this collaboration is the knowledge and expertise that the institute has matured by designing, building, and operating LOFAR (the Low Frequency ARray), that is now being upgraded to the LOFAR2 system, which will enable state of the art and a highly productive telescope between 2020-2030. Additionally, ASTRON collaborates with the SKA Observatory and other institutes Worldwide to participate in the Network of SKA Regional Centres, which will offer data access and processing resources for use by SKA Scientists, and general users.

As a SKA data scientist, for 50% of the time you will work in collaboration with the SKA scientists and science verification teams in Australia as well as the ASTRON SKA AIV colleagues to verify the SKA-low system. For the rest of the time, you will work with the ASTRON colleagues to help define and scientifically commission the LOFAR2 system and the data services in preparation for the future operations of the SKA Regional Centre.

You will be a member of the Science Data Centre Operations (SDCO) group at ASTRON. This operational unit is responsible for the interaction with the user community and for operating the Science Data Centre (SDC) services. These enable astrophysicists of all levels to make fundamental scientific discoveries by accessing processing/analysis tools and the instrumental and science-ready data generated by ASTRON’s world-leading instruments (LOFAR, WSRT/APERTIF/ARTS) and, in the future, the Square Kilometre Array.


We ask

You have a PhD in astronomy or a related field. You are a team player who likes to work remotely with collaborators for much of the time, and you are willing to travel to Western Australia to participate in AIV activities on or near the SKA-low site. You will invest a good fraction of your time in generating documentation related to the SKA AIV activities, especially in the first period of the position. You have experience in low-frequency radio astronomy and familiarity with low-frequency radio telescopes (ideally LOFAR), as this will enable you to hit the ground running. Time-domain focus and experience, in science and systems, is considered a plus, as it would complement the expertise of the SKA teams.

For the SKA-low system, you will be involved in the testing and integration at sub-system and system level.  You will define and develop verification activities to test the functional and non-functional requirements of the system, you will work with the SKA Observatory staff and the science verification teams at CSIRO to assess its performance and you will assist in developing tests to further isolate the cause of any issue detected through systems knowledge and analysis. 

In addition to your work for SKA-low, you will also assist in LOFAR troubleshooting and help to assess the quality of LOFAR data products, thereby effectively increasing our understanding of both telescopes. You will assist users with the extraction of scientific information from the data (including archival data), which share many of the challenges with SKA data.

You will be able to invest up to 20% of your time in radio astronomical research. This can be on any astrophysical or instrumental topic, although some component involving the use of our facilities (LOFAR and/or Apertif) and/or allowing possibilities to collaborate with other ASTRON and SKA research staff is preferred. You have a good command of spoken and written English.

We offer

ASTRON offers an attractive international innovative working environment for passionate researchers and professionals. Communication is informal and takes place via short lines. Our terms of employment are laid down in the Collective Labour Agreement for the Research Institutes (CAO-OI). We offer:

  • a full-time (38 hours/week) temporary appointment in the service of the Netherlands Foundation of Scientific Research Institutes (NWO-I) for the duration of 2 years with a possible extension for other two years depending on good performance;
  • flexible employment conditions, tailored to your personal situation;
  • a gross monthly salary on a full-time basis in the range of € 3.090,- to € 5.590,- euro (scale 10 or 11 NWO-I), depending on relevant experience;
  • a holiday allowance of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.33% of the gross annual salary;
  • a solid pension scheme (ABP);
  • 42 vacation days per year on a full-time basis;
  • generous relocation expenses.


The organization

ASTRON is the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy. ASTRON is part of the institutes organisation of NWO. Our mission is to make discoveries in radio astronomy happen. We do this by developing new and innovative technologies, operating world-class radio astronomy facilities and pursuing fundamental astronomical research. We work with inclusive teams, in which employees with diverse identities and perspectives work together. This makes our employees feel safe and valued, so that they can perform optimally and new horizons can be opened on our universe with everyone's input. ASTRON is committed to increasing its staff diversity, and we are especially interested in applications from women and other traditionally under-represented groups.



For more information about ASTRON check our website

For general information about this vacancy please contact Harrianne ter Meer (HR Officer), e-mail: [email protected]. For specific job inquiries please contact: Dr. Roberto Pizzo, e-mail: [email protected], Head Science Data Centre Operations.


You can apply directly for this job on Your response must include the following information: Curriculum Vitae, Motivation Letter and your scientific interests. Please also arrange for three letters of reference to be sent to [email protected] by the deadline. The deadline for submission is May 22, 2023.


About NWO-I

The Dutch Research Council (NWO) is the national research funder. NWO-I is an umbrella organisation for nine research institutes, including ASTRON. These are national centers of expertise in specific fields of science, from astronomy to sea research. The NWO institutes conduct high-quality scientific research and function as powerful national instruments in science policy. They make it possible to coordinate scientific fields with long-term commitment and innovative research.


Acquisition based on this vacancy is not appreciated.


Application Details

Publication Start Date
2023 Mar 29
Application Deadline
2023 May 08


Dr. Roberto Pizzo