Smithsonian Institution Astrophysicist in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Smithsonian Institution
1 vacancy in the following location:
  • Cambridge, MA
Work Schedule is Full Time, Indefinite. - Trust Fund. This is not a federal position.

Opened Thursday 8/11/2016 (69 day(s) ago)

** Closes Monday 10/31/2016 (12 day(s) away)

Job Overview

About the Agency

This is the position of Astrophysicist in the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO). The purpose of this position is to participate in all aspects of operations and science analysis as part of the Chandra X-ray Observatory’s High Resolution Camera (HRC) Instrument Principal Investigator team. Operational responsibilities include reviewing Chandra command loads to ensure the safe operation of the flight instrument, monitoring the health and safety of the flight instrument, and analyzing in-flight calibration data. The employee is also expected to conduct independent scientific research in the area of extragalactic astronomy, particularly in the X-ray and infrared bands. Research activities will include planning and implementing observing programs analyzing and interpreting data obtained with ground-based and space-based observatories, and publishing significant original scientific results in refereed journals. The scientist will have access to data from the HRC Guaranteed Time Observer program.

  1. Participate in the regular operation of the HRC flight instrument. Tasks include reviewing Chandra command loads from an HRC perspective to ensure safe operation of the instrument, regular monitoring of the health and safety of the flight instrument, developing new algorithms and procedures to improve monitoring and trending, analyzing in-flight calibration data, and supporting HRC-related presentations such as the Chandra Quarterly Review and the Chandra monthly teleconferences.

  2. Conduct independent research in astronomy and astrophysics, with emphasis on extragalactic astronomy using ground and space-based observatories. Formulate research plans and hypotheses and carry them through to completion by determining the most fruitful investigations and approaches, defining observations, analyzing and interpreting data.

  3. Prepare papers containing research results for publication in scientific journals and presentation at conferences. Participate in scientific meetings and conferences to discuss current research with other scientists.

  4. Give advice on scientific and technical approaches to others working on the same or related projects, as appropriate.

  5. Perform other duties as assigned.

Job Requirements
Key Requirements
  • May be required to complete Pre and Post appointment background check
  • Direct Deposit/Electronic Funds Transfer required for salary payment
  • May be required to serve a one year probationary period

Basic Requirements:

A. Degree: in one or a combination of astronomy, physics, mathematics, space science, or electronics. The course work must have included differential and integral calculus and 12 semester hours in astronomy and/or physics. OR

B. Combination of education and experience -- at least 30 semester hours of courses equivalent to a major in any combination of astronomy, space science, physics, mathematics, and electronics, with required course work as shown in A above, plus appropriate experience or additional education.

In addition to meeting the basic entry qualification requirements, applicants must have specialized experience and/or directly related education in the amounts shown below:

grade 13

A minimum of one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the grade 12 level in the normal line of progression for the occupation which demonstrates the origination of new techniques in the acquisition and management of data, establishing new criteria in the area of data analysis and reduction, the development of new observational information, the supervision of at least one subordinate or postdoc or completed a supervisory training program, and demonstrated advanced knowledge in the field of x-ray astronomy as evidenced by authorship of several scholarly articles in professional refereed journals and/or conference presentations.

Grade 14

A minimum of one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the grade 13 level in the normal line of progression for the occupation which should demonstrate experience supporting HRC flight operations, ensuring health and safety of the flight instrument, and analyzing in-flight calibration data. The candidate has experience developing software and algorithms that support HRC operations, defining and executing calibration programs, and interfacing with the Chandra community including the CXC and Project Science to address outstanding issues. The candidate has advanced knowledge of modern computer techniques, including simulation and data analysis techniques. The candidate formulates and conducts independent research program(s) as demonstrated by an extensive history of publications in refereed journals.

Applicants must meet the basic qualification requirements as described in the Office of Personnel Management's Qualification Standards Handbook for General Schedule Positions. These standards may be viewed at the following address on the web at

Security Clearance

Q - Nonsensitive

Additional Information
What To Expect Next

You will receive an e-mail to acknowledge that your application has been received. Please be aware that the confirmation e-mail could reside in your "junk" or "bulk" mail folder depending on your filters.


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Other Information

The Smithsonian does not pay relocation expenses but may pay a recruitment bonus. The Smithsonian embraces diversity and equal employment opportunity (

Salary Range: $92,448.00 to $142,021.00 / Per Year

Series & Grade: IS-1330-13/14

Promotion Potential: 13

Supervisory Status: No

Who May Apply: This position is open to all qualified candidates Selection for this position will be made at either the grade 13 or 14. If selection is made at the grade 13, the selectee may be non-competitively promoted to the grade 14 upon recommendation of the Professional Accomplishments Evaluation Committee (PAEC). First consideration may be made 14 days after the opening date

Control Number: 447459700

Job Announcement Number: 16-42