Science and Technology

Job Details

Number: 1756

Title: Optical Systems Scientist

Element: Systems Engineering

Type: Full time

Location: GMT Project Office, Pasadena CA

This exciting job opportunity is with the GMTO (Giant Magellan Telescope Organization) located in Pasadena, California. The GMT is being developed by a group of leading university and research centers from across the globe. The GMTO Corporation has been formed to design, construct and operate the GMT Observatory which will be located in the Andean mountains at Las Campanas Peak in Chile. The GMT is the next generation astronomical observatory with the capability to have 10 times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope. The project is entering the formal construction phase with scientific operations expected to begin in 2023.


The successful candidate will be an employee of the GMTO Corporation and must be able to meet pre-employment requirements including any background and reference checks and the successful candidate must be a US citizen or eligible to work in the United States and at least 18 years of age. GMTO provides competitive salaries and a generous benefits package.

Job Summary:
The Systems Engineering Group located at the GMTO in Pasadena, CA is pursuing a highly qualified Optical Systems Scientist to develop and maintain requirements relevant to optical system performance, as well as continuously monitor and evaluate the expected performance of the system.

Under minimal supervision and reporting to the Project Systems Engineer, the Optical Systems Scientist will prepare observatory level requirements and technical budgets allocating those requirements to subsystems and components. They will coordinate optical performance estimates, in close collaboration with the Wavefront Control and Integrated Modeling teams. The Optical Systems Scientist will also contribute to interface development, and participate in the development and execution of verification and validation plans and procedures, in collaboration with the rest of the Systems Engineering team and the engineering teams responsible for delivering subsystems. In addition, the Optical Systems Scientist will work closely with the Project Scientist and Instrument Scientist on interpreting science requirements and flowing them down into technical specifications.

The Optical Systems Scientist is expected to command working knowledge of the optical effects in the atmosphere, the performance metrics for a ground based observatory, and the concepts and algorithms capable of estimating those metrics. The successful candidate will have solid understanding of the physical effects influencing performance, as well as the analytical and numerical models characterizing these effects. While most of the detailed simulations will be carried out by dedicated teams, the candidate should be proficient with ZEMAX (although not necessarily expert in design and optimization), Matlab, Python, and C++, the applicant will also be expected to learn optical simulators developed in-house (DOS, CEO).

This position will require writing reports summarizing work accomplished, technical specifications, supporting internal and external design reviews, and documenting requirements and procedures. Additional responsibilities will include efficient communication with project management, the rest of the systems engineering group, sub-system group leaders, and other technical staff as required.

Job Duties:
• Establish and maintain observatory level optical requirements, technical budgets, interfaces, and validation and verification plans
• Review and coordinate subsystem level optical requirements, technical budgets, interfaces, and validation and verification plans
• Establish the process and methods for continuously evaluating observatory optical performance, as part of the evolving System Compliance Matrix; coordinate adding as-designed/as-built models to simulations to ensure that the final design meet performance requirements
• Contribute to the development of calibration and test plans, as necessary
• Monitor, review and confirm the analyses of the observatory subsystems performed by the engineering teams and contractors
• Develop and maintain scope, schedule and financial budget for optical performance evaluations
• Prepare reports, technical notes, and publications on observatory performance and related areas
• Contribute to system and subsystem level design reviews

Essential Skills, Knowledge, and Abilities:
• Minimum of a M.S. in Physics, Electrical, Optical Sciences or related engineering degree with a minimum of 8 years of relevant experience
• Knowledge of optical concepts, computational and test procedures
• Understanding of ground based observatory performance, relevant metrics and algorithms evaluating those metrics
• Understanding of linear systems and dynamics, working knowledge of estimation and control theory
• Ability to work independently and manage diverse work load to meet critical deadlines
• Working knowledge of Matlab/Simulink, Python, C++
• Proficient use of Zemax
• Excellent verbal, presentation and writing skills, demonstrated ability of generating comprehensive reports and publications.
• Previous experience presenting reports and providing documentation for design reviews
• Previous experience working as a member of a project team with engineers, scientists and scientific personnel
• Demonstrated interpersonal skills: well organized, reliable, and proactive in dealing with others
• Demonstrated ability to be flexible in an environment of changing priorities and working on multiple areas of the project

Desired Skills, Knowledge, and Abilities:
• PhD in Physics, Electrical, Optical Sciences or related engineering degree with a minimum of 6 years of relevant post-doctoral experience
• Experience with large ground based observatories
• Familiarity with astronomical active and/or adaptive optics, optical/IR astronomical instrumentation, systems and subsystems

Applicants should send a Letter of Interest and a Resume to
Only electronic submissions will be accepted. Please refer to the Job Number in the letter and in the email subject line.

GMTO is an equal opportunity employer.