J3297 Gaia Operations Engineer



An exciting opportunity for two experienced scientists, or engineers, to work for Telespazio VEGA UK within the Gaia Team.


This service will aim to support all critical efforts needed to help reach the ambitious scientific goals of the mission, and to develop and implement novel techniques to allow for new data inputs to align with existing infrastructure.

Responsibilities / Duties

The successful candidates will be expected to have some involvement in the following tasks, though the extent to which these are allocated to each individual will vary based upon existing knowledge and experience;

  • Contribute to the SGS System Requirement Definition, and to definition of Science Planning Concept and relevant Mission Operations (MOC) and Instrument Teams.
  • Contribute to procedure writing and the implementation of those procedures
    • Follow procedures and operate Science Operations Centre (SOC) systems, and assist in automation of SOC procedures
  • Day to day operations of scientific payloads, and data pipelines including reporting on processing, survey, and observation plan progress
  • Oversight of science planning systems including
    • Assistance in handling and planning announcement of opportunity responses
    • Using the applicable software, develop a proposal for a schedule of observations.
    • Support, where required, specific PI team(s) in the generation of their products
  • Maintenance/Bug reporting on all operations systems and validation of new releases before deployment. SOC software includes in house systems and third party products such as MAPPS/EPS and SPICE.
  • Monitoring of the operations execution, and identification of special coming events in the timeline.
    • Report on operational activities including the gathering and presentation of processing summary statistics
  • Coordinate and schedule on site operational support
  • Handling operational interactions with various external institutes involved in the operations
  • Cooperate with other projects on operational matters (e.g. promote the exchange of information with missions that have various similarities)

The specific duties will include:

  • AGIS astrometric calibration and validation
    • Support the definition of calibration models in AGIS
    • Define, setup, and carry out AGIS test runs and analyse results
    • Aid in the setting up of an automated validation pipeline needed to assess the scientific quality of a large number of trial runs
  • AGIS-IDU interactions
    • Develop an understanding of and monitor calibration development activities in IDU from an AGIS viewpoint, such as
      • LSF/PSF modelling
      • Treatment of gated (=saturated) observations
      • Modelling of all calibration effects which are not tackled in AGIS and ensure they are truly disjoint (AGIS/IDU)
    • Aid in the definition of data sets and procedures to test the proper functioning of the crucial AGIS-IDU loop
  • Systematic Errors
    • In close collaboration with AGIS experts, support investigations into the root causes of systematic errors in the astrometric solutions with the aim to suppress, ideally, eliminate them to the level needed to reach the end-of-mission goals
    • For systematic errors which cannot be eliminated, aid in characterising, and documenting them in public releases
  • Very-Bright-Star processing
    • Develop new or improve existing approaches to determine the centroid of highly-saturated astrometric observations to the highest-possible precision
    • Apply these algorithms to all existing VBS data from Gaia
    • Create so-called AstroElementaries from VBS observation data such that they can act as input to AGIS and the astrometry of these brightest stars be determined as part of a regular astrometric solution
    • In close collaboration with the AGIS team, assess the quality of the VBS astrometry
    • Support existing efforts within AGIS and IDU to improve the modelling/centroiding of highly saturated observations / exploit synergies to VBS work if possible

Qualifications / Experience

  • Master’s University degree, PhD preferred, in Astronomy/Astrophysics or Physics, or equivalent and relevant professional experience
  • Knowledge of astronomical instrumentation, acquired through astronomical instrument hardware development and/or intensive astronomical data reduction experience
  • Knowledge and software engineering experience in Python and Java.
  • Knowledge of Jupyter Notebook, Jupyter Lab/Jupyter Hub frameworks and related technologies

Essential Skills

  • Excellent communication skills, including written and spoken English
  • To work effectively in a team environment, and with the astronomical community around the world
  • Strong organisational skills and a good sense of initiative

Further Details        

All roles within Telespazio VEGA UK have a defined closing date, however if a successful candidate is found before the advert expires the role will be closed early.  We would therefore advise any candidate to apply as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

Closing Date for applications is 28th February 2020.

Location of the position is ESAC, Spain

To apply: Please send your CV and covering letter to careers@telespazio.com

By sending your CV to careers@telespazio.com you give your consent for Telespazio VEGA to hold and process your personal information for the purpose of the application.


Competitive Package covering salary, generous holiday allowance, training plan and more


In line with Asylum & Immigration Legislation, all applicants must be eligible to live and work in the EU. Documented evidence of eligibility will be required from candidates as part of the recruitment process. Furthermore, in view of the nature of the work the company is in, all potential employees will undergo stringent reference and identity checks.

2020/02/18 12:41