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AURA Tucson, AZ

  • Posted: over a month ago
  • Full-Time
Job Description


NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) is the preeminent US national center for ground-based, nighttime optical and infrared astronomy. NOIRLab is a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) which operates as a matrix organization, providing services across a range of programs: Gemini, Rubin, MSO (CTIO and KPNO), and CSDC; with facilities in three geographic locations: Arizona, Chile and Hawai’i. The mission of NOIRLab is to enable breakthrough discoveries in astrophysics by developing and operating state-of-the-art ground-based observatories and providing data products and services for a diverse and inclusive community.

The Community Science and Data Center (CSDC) at NOIRLab has an opening for a Data Analyst. In this role, you will work with one or more teams of scientists, engineers, external collaborators, and other staff to support software systems and data resources that enable forefront research in astronomy.

Teams within CSDC support open access by researchers across the globe to some of the world’s largest and most advanced astronomical telescopes and data sets. Current CSDC projects include the Astro Data Lab (an online platform for scientific analysis with large public astronomy data sets), the ANTARES alert broker (a software platform enabling real-time analysis of live-streaming astronomy data), the Astro Data Archive (a petabyte-scale archive of images from some of the world’s most powerful astronomical telescopes and cameras), the US National Gemini Office (a team providing user support and software resources for US-based users of the twin 8-meter telescopes of the Gemini Observatory), and the NOIRLab Time Allocation program (which reviews proposals from researchers requesting observing time on ground-based optical and infrared telescopes funded by the US National Science Foundation.)

Example activities of a Data Analyst at CSDC include:

  • Working as part of a team to achieve NOIRLab’s scientific mission goals through software, data, and computing systems
  • Working with researchers in support of their science projects
  • Developing and operating software-based procedures for astronomical data analysis
  • Investigating, testing, and comparing different tools for astronomical data analysis
  • Operating data reduction pipelines
  • Ingesting data into archives and databases
  • Creating and maintaining scientific tutorial scripts and code notebooks
  • Designing, developing, and maintaining web pages and web interfaces
  • Responding to helpdesk inquiries from the astronomy research community

Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in astronomy, physics, computer science, or related field, plus 2-3 years’ experience in data analysis and/or scientific research support. Master’s degree may be substituted for 1-2 years’ experience.
  • Initiative, judgement, integrity, and problem-solving skills
  • Proficiency in three or more of the following areas:
    • Data visualization
    • Image and signal processing
    • Statistics and error analysis
    • Relational and non-relational database systems
    • Management of unstructured data sets
    • Machine learning and artificial intelligence
    • Relevant programming languages (Python, C/C++, Java)
    • Computer operating systems (Mac OS, UNIX, Linux, Windows)
    • Web page design, creation, and maintenance
    • Analysis and understanding of science user goals

 Desired qualifications:

  • Enthusiasm for astronomy, natural science, data science, and computing
  • Good written and oral communication skills
  • Able to thrive as part of a team
  • Motivation to support scientific users
  • Familiarity with astronomical data, algorithms, and software (imaging, photometry, spectroscopy, astrometry, IRAF, Astropy)

Physical Demands:

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

This work is mostly carried out in an office environment. Long periods of sitting may be required. Travel is not required, but opportunities will be available to travel to the various NOIRLab observatory sites (Arizona, Chile and Hawai`i).

AURA offers an excellent benefits package including paid time off and retirement plan contributions, competitive salary commensurate with experience, and a very attractive work environment.

****NOIRLab has the majority of staff working remotely during COVID-19 crisis. The safety of our staff and community is our top priority. We will continue to interview and screen candidates in this new virtual landscape. Offers of employment can be extended and new hires can on-board virtually and arrangements may be made for remote work. Relocation benefits will be available to those eligible when travel can be supported**** 

We are committed to diversity and inclusion at NOIRLab.  Our managing organization, AURA, as a leader in the astronomical community, develops and supports programs that advance our organizational commitment to diversity, broaden participation, and encourage the advancement of diversity throughout the astronomical scientific workforce. Learn more at

Preference will be given to qualified internal candidates and qualified Native Americans living on or near the Tohono O'odham reservation. 

To apply, please submit a cover letter expressing your interest in the position, as well as a CV or resume (PDF files preferred). Please list 3 professional references in your application (references will only be contacted later in the recruitment process.) Please name any attachments with the following format: Lastname Docname. Application documents that are not uploaded as part of the application may be sent to

Veterans, disabled individuals or wounded warriors needing assistance with the employment process should request assistance at 

The position will remain open until filled. To be considered in the first round of reviews, please submit your application by April 2, 2021.

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), is a consortium of over 40 US institutions and three international affiliates that operates world-class astronomical observatories. AURA’s role is to establish, nurture, and promote public observatories and facilities that advance innovative astronomical research. AURA is responsible for managing the operations of the NSF’s NOIRLab, the National Solar Observatory, and the construction of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory and the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope under cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation and operations of the Space Telescope Science Institute under contracts with NASA.  

As a recipient of U.S. Government funding, AURA is considered a government contractor and is subject to Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action regulations. As an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, AURA does not discriminate based on race, sex, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity/gender identity expression, lawful political affiliations, veteran status, disability, and/or any other legally protected status under applicable federal, state, and local equal opportunity laws. The statements below as well as the requests for self-identification are required pursuant to these regulations. We encourage your participation in meeting these federal reporting requirements which are included for protection and to assist us in our recordkeeping and reporting. Your responses are kept strictly confidential. 

Equal Opportunity Employer/Protected Veterans/Individuals with Disabilities

The contractor will not discharge or in any other manner discriminate against employees or applicants because they have inquired about, discussed, or disclosed their own pay or the pay of another employee or applicant. However, employees who have access to the compensation information of other employees or applicants as a part of their essential job functions cannot disclose the pay of other employees or applicants to individuals who do not otherwise have access to compensation information, unless the disclosure is (a) in response to a formal complaint or charge, (b) in furtherance of an investigation, proceeding, hearing, or action, including an investigation conducted by the employer, or (c) consistent with the contractor’s legal duty to furnish information. 41 CFR 60-1.35(c)



Tucson, AZ



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