SARAO/UWC science operations postdoctoral fellowship

Job Summary

Post-doctoral Positions and Fellowships
South African Radio Astronomy Observatory
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement

Job Description

SARAO and UWC are offering an exciting postdoctoral opportunity for a researcher interested in gaining experience in the science operations of the MeerKAT telescope. 

In this role, the successful candidates will support MeerKAT telescope operations, its users, and have the opportunity to carry out their own research (up to 50 %).

The SKA precursor MeerKAT is a 64-dish radio interferometer located in South Africa, inaugurated in 2018. MeerKAT's wide field of view, wide bandwidth, and sensitivity to low surface brightness emission pose new challenges in characterisation and calibration of the telescope providing growth opportunities to a dedicated team of technically-minded astronomers.

The successful candidate will work closely with the SARAO Science Operations team, conducting the following activities:

  • Serve as Astronomer on Duty on a roster basis
  • Provide quality assurance and quality control of the telescope data products and support engineering teams in troubleshooting operational issues.
  • Improve operations and scientific performance
  • Maintain calibration of the telescope
  • Contribute to the commissioning and science verification of the MeerKAT Extension
  • Support users in the preparation of proposals, observation schedule blocks, calibration strategies and data reduction
  • Assist in feasibility reviews of proposals

The candidate will be based at the SARAO offices in Black River Park, Observatory, Cape Town, with regular visits to  UWC. 

In the role at UWC, the candidate will work closely with Prof. Mario Santos and pursue research related to calibration, RFI mitigation and data analysis of HI intensity mapping data from MeerKAT. This can be either single dish or interferometric data, depending on the expertise of the candidate.

The successful candidate will be affiliated with the Centre for Radio Cosmology (CRC) and the Astro group at the University of the Western Cape and have access to state of the art computing facilities.

Mandatory Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • University PhD degree in Astronomy, Physics, Engineering or another closely related and relevant field
  • Expertise in radio astronomy techniques including in the acquisition, reduction and analysis of astronomical data
  • Ability to program in C/ Python/shell scripts
  • Linux operating systems
  • Effective oral and written communication skills in English
  • Flexibility and adaptability to change.

Desirable Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • Cosmology and HI intensity mapping
  • Experience with the operation of radio observatories.
  • Experience commissioning radio astronomy instrumentation 

The expected remuneration for 2024 is ZAR 447 000 per annum, tax-free, subject to corrections for inflation. Additional funding is available for equipment and travel. The position is for three years, subject to adequate performance.

Applicants should email a single PDF document containing: 

  • CV (including a list of publications)
  • description of previous/current research and future plans/interests (maximum: 3 pages)
  • names and emails of 2–3 referees: letters must be sent directly to us by the referees 

The appointment is subject to the rules and approval of the University of the Western Cape and SARAO/National Research Foundation of South Africa.

Compensation and Benefits

Included Benefits

Tax free.

Travel and equipment grant.

Relocation expenses.

Application Details

Publication Start Date
2023 Nov 01
Application Deadline
2023 Dec 20
Reference Code
University of the Western Cape


Mario Santos