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    Duties

    Summary

    Selection for this position will be made at either the grade 12, 13 or 14 level. If selection is made at the grade 12, or 13 level the selectee may be non-competitively promoted to the next higher level up to the grade 14 upon recommendation of the Professional Accomplishments Evaluation Committee (PAEC). 

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    Responsibilities

    This is the position of  Astrophysicist in the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. The employee will undertake a significant technical role in the Chandra X-ray Center (CXC) working with CXC staff and NASA to maximize the scientific return of the ACIS instrument on the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The work will include generation of commands to the ACIS instrument, review and verification of spacecraft command loads to ensure the proper ACIS configuration, monitoring of the space radiation environment and safing the ACIS instrument when appropriate, monitoring the health and safety of the ACIS instrument, and the analysis and interpretation of flight data to ensure the quality of the scientific data. The position is charged with technical and scientific responsibility for formulating and conducting developmental research in the area of X-ray Astronomy and High Energy Astrophysics. The work may include the planning and designing of necessary experiments, the analysis and interpretation of experimental data, the proposing, planning, and designing of observing programs, the analysis and interpretation of observations, and the publication of significant results.

    • Undertake a position as a CXC Instrument Scientist for the Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS), with responsibility for the operation of the ACIS instrument. Propose and carry out specific investigations of ACIS performance and procedures, including solutions to unanticipated spacecraft or instrument events. Conduct and oversee the analysis of these studies, developing computer algorithms as necessary and supervising their implementation. Interpret the results of these investigations, doing theoretical calculations when appropriate. Review ACIS observing programs and advise Observers using the ACIS instrument on optimal configurations to achieve the scientific goals.
    • Monitor the health and safety of the ACIS instrument as part of a rotating weekly schedule of the ACIS Operations Team. Monitor the realtime and dump data from the ACIS instrument to identify possible issues with the instrument performance and take action as necessary. Monitor the space radiation environment, calling telecons as needed, and take appropriate safing actions as needed.
    • Conduct research with X-ray satellite observations and with other space and ground-based facilities.
    • Serve on committees, if/when invited, for purposes of scientific proposal review, scientific planning activities, as an advisory resource, and for establishing future directions of astronomical standards and in defining standards for astronomy.
    • Determine the most relevant and fruitful areas for research, and conceive, propose, and carry out observational and data analysis efforts directed towards a wide range of astrophysical systems utilizing X-ray and other spectral and imaging data and other ground-and space-based facilities. Formulate plans and hypotheses in areas which are new and unexplored, or which have presented critical obstacles in the past, and carry them through to completion. Determine the applicability of findings to activities and interests of the Division and Observatory.
    • Participate in overall astronomy programs of the Chandra X-ray Center (CXC), the High Energy Astrophysics division, and in overall scientific programs at SAO. Interact with scientists at SAO and other institutions to coordinate activities such as scientific observations and analysis, software development, and overall planning in astronomy.
    • Prepare papers presenting research results for publication in scientific journals and presentation at scientific meetings and conferences. Attend professional meetings for the purpose of presenting new results and participating in the discussion of related efforts by other scientists. Referee papers submitted to scientific journals and participate on NASA peer review committees, if/when asked.

    Travel Required

    Not required

    Supervisory status

    No

    Promotion Potential

    14

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    Requirements

    Conditions Of Employment

    • 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

    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 http://www.opm.gov/qualifications/Standards/IORs/gs1300/1330.htm.

    Qualifications

    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 12:

    A. A Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree in a related field

    OR

    B. A minimum of one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the grade 11 level in the normal line of progress for this occupation which should demonstrate 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 authorship of several scholarly articles in professional refereed journals and/or conference presentations. 

      
    OR

    C. A combination of successfully completed graduate level education and experience equivalent to the above. 

    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 should demonstrate taking a leadership role in the running of an observatory or equivalent scientific facility, including instrument operations for a space observatory and the planning and execution of observations for Guest Observers. The candidate has experience working with a team that operates an observatory in space; taking a lead role in formulating requirements for science software; and working in teams including scientists and software engineers to test and document software. The candidate formulates and conducts independent research program(s) as demonstrated by a substantive history of publications in refereed journals; and has knowledge of the application of computer and analytic techniques to the solution of scientific problems.

    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 taking a leadership role in the running of the Chandra X-ray Observatory, including the planning and execution of observations for Guest Observers. The candidate has experience working with the team that operates the Chandra X-ray Observatory; taking a lead role in formulating requirements for science software; and working in teams including scientists and software engineers to test and document software. The candidate formulates and conducts independent research program(s) as demonstrated by a substantive history of publications in refereed journals; and has knowledge of the application of computer and analytic techniques to the solution of scientific problems. The candidate has demonstrated the ability to conduct an independent research program including writing successful proposals and supervising students and Postdoctoral fellows.

    Education

    Additional information

    The Smithsonian does not pay relocation expenses but may pay a recruitment bonus. The Smithsonian embraces diversity and equal employment opportunity (www.si.edu/oeema).

    How You Will Be Evaluated

    You will be evaluated to determine if you meet the minimum qualifications required; and on the extent to which your application shows that you possess the criteria associated with this position as defined below

    Broad knowledge of astronomy, mathematics, and physics, as evidenced by a PhD in Astronomy or Physics

    Knowledge of astrophysics, as evidenced by publications which have answered important questions in the field or have contributed to significant advances in knowledge

    Knowledge of X-ray astronomy instruments and data analysis techniques including the Chandra X-ray Observatory

    Knowledge of and demonstrated experience working with x-ray data and the ability to utilize other ground-based and space-based observing facilities

    Ability to develop and apply computer and analytic techniques to the solution of scientific problems and astrophysical data analysis

    Ability to formulate and conduct independent research programs

    Ability to supervise and manage technical staff in the development of software systems

    Skill in interpersonal relations to interface effectively with diverse outside organizations (government, university, industry)


    To preview questions please click here.

    Background checks and security clearance

    Security clearance

    Q Access Authorization

    Drug test required

    No

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    Required Documents

    Detailed resume or CV and bibliography

    Names, addresses, email addresses, and telephone numbers of three professional references

    School transcripts or degree certificate

    Proof of U.S. accreditation for foreign study, if applicable

    If you are relying on your education to meet qualification requirements:

    Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications. Therefore, provide only the attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

    Failure to provide all of the required information as stated in this vacancy announcement may result in an ineligible rating or may affect the overall rating.

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    Benefits

    A career with the U.S. Government provides employees with a comprehensive benefits package. As a federal employee, you and your family will have access to a range of benefits that are designed to make your federal career very rewarding.

    This is a Trust fund position. Please refer to our website:http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/hr/benefits/

    http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/hr/benefits/

    Eligibility for benefits depends on the type of position you hold and whether your position is full-time, part-time, or intermittent. Contact the hiring agency for more information on the specific benefits offered.

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    How to Apply

    Click on the "Apply Online" button on the upper right side of the page. If you do not have a social security number please contact the point of contact listed for information.  Please Note:

    • You must apply for this position online through the 'Apply Online' button.
    • Faxes are received by an automated system, not a physical fax machine. Documents that are faxed as part of the application process must be sent with the system generated cover sheet by the closing date. Documents faxed without the system generated coversheet are not retrievable and cannot be considered as part of the application package.
    • Clicking the "DONE" tab does not submit your application. The "DONE" tab allows you to exit the system and save your information for completion at a later time. To submit your application, click the "FINISH" tab.
    • The complete application package, including any required documents, is due in the Smithsonian Office of Human Resources on the closing date of the announcement by 11:59 PM Eastern Time.

    Agency contact information

    Mary Hebert

    Phone

    617-496-7816

    Fax

    617-495-7263

    Email

    mhebert@cfa.harvard.edu

    Address

    SMITHSONIAN
    Human Resources
    60 Garden Street Cambridge, MA 02138
    Mail Stop 17
    Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
    United States
    Learn more about this agency

    The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is part of what is arguably the largest and most diverse astrophysical institution in the world, where the staff carries out a broad program of research in astronomy, astrophysics, and earth and space sciences. If you would like to join this exciting organization, apply today!

    Next steps

    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.

Fair & Transparent

The Federal hiring process is setup to be fair and transparent. Please read the following guidance.

Equal Employment Opportunity Policy

The United States Government does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy And gender identity), national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, retaliation, parental status, military service, or other non-merit factor.

Reasonable Accommodation Policy

Federal agencies must provide reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. Applicants requiring reasonable accommodation for any part of the application process should follow the instructions in the job opportunity announcement. For any part of the remaining hiring process, applicants should contact the hiring agency directly. Determinations on requests for reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.

A reasonable accommodation is any change in the workplace or the way things are customarily done that provides an equal employment opportunity to an individual with a disability. Under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) must provide reasonable accommodations:

  • An applicant with a disability needs an accommodation to have an equal opportunity to apply for a job.
  • An employee with a disability needs an accommodation to perform the essential job duties or to gain access to the workplace.
  • An employee with a disability needs an accommodation to receive equal access to benefits, such as details, training, and office-sponsored events.

Legal and regulatory guidance

This job originated on www.usajobs.gov. For the full announcement and to apply, visit www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/511860800. Only resumes submitted according to the instructions on the job announcement listed at www.usajobs.gov will be considered.