Operations & Community Support Scientist

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The European Space Agency is ATG Europes biggest client. They are an international organisation with 22 member states with sites in the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, UK and Belgium. ESA is Europes gateway to Space!

The European Space Agencys (ESA) X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission (XMM-Newton) was launched on December 10th 1999. XMM-Newton is ESAs second cornerstone of the Horizon 2000 Science Programme. It carries 3 high throughput X-ray telescopes with an unprecedented effective area, and an optical monitor, the first flown on a X-ray observatory. The large collecting area and ability to make long uninterrupted exposures provide highly sensitive observations.ESAs X-ray space observatory XMM-Newton is unique. It is the biggest scientific satellite ever built in Europe, its telescope mirrors are amongst the most powerful ever developed in the world, and with its sensitive cameras it can see much more than any previous X-ray satellite.The XMM-Newton mission is helping scientists to solve a number of cosmic mysteries, ranging from the enigmatic black holes to the origins of the Universe itself. Observing time on XMM-Newton is being made available to the scientific community, applying for observational periods on a competitive basis.

  • Position Specific TasksContribute to instrument calibration or scientific performance monitoring within team activities;
  • Possibly, development of new algorithms or shared scripts for scientific analysis;
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  • Operations Scientist (50%) XMM-Newton specific tasks;
  • Optimisation to the observations of accepted proposals;
  • Support to the Observing Time Allocation Committee (OTAC);
  • Participation on the activities related to the systematic processing of all scientific mission data as they become available;
  • Provision of scientific requirements of the pipeline products following recommendations of the Project Scientist and Users Group- through the PPS Scientist and coordination and participation on the quality control of the pipeline products;
  • Participation in the production and regular updating of the XMM-Newton source catalogues, definition of their content and scientific validation;
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  • Community Support Scientist (50%) XMM Specific Tasks;
  • Contribution to the SAS scientific validation and provision of occasional input to the SAS;
  • Support to the Observing Time Allocation Committee (OTAC);
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  • Where it enhances the capability to support the user community, and only if other tasks permit, up to 20% of the work may involve original science research.
Ideal Candidate: 
  • At least a Science PhD or Masters degree in related fields;
  • At least 4 years of relevant experience;
  • High level of expertise in astronomical observations, preferably X-ray astronomy, to understand the needs and requirements of the XMM-Newton community for the planning and implementation of requested observations and to competently deal with community questions on these observations;
  • Excellent command of commonly used generic analysis software, like IDL, or Python, and of X-ray astronomical data analysis software in particular, with preference to the XMM-Newton SAS, FTOOLs and XSPEC or similar, in order to competently interact with and support the community in their use of XMM-Newton data;
  • High level of understanding of the tasks in scientific operations support for an international space- (or ground-) based observatory;
  • Knowledge of the specifics of astronomical X-ray detectors, preferably those of XMM-Newton;
  • Excellentability to interact with and provide support to users from a world-wide community and crossing multiple disciplines;
  • Fluency in written and spoken English.
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