Astronomical Instrument Control Expert

Reference Number: 2661D
Location: California

The Photonics Group
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2661D:  Astronomical Instrument Control Experience

The Project will employ several custom instruments for operating the telescope and conducting science. Among them, several guiding cameras allow the telescope to precisely track science targets and achieve peak optical performance. Science instruments include a planet hunting spectrograph (GCLEF), an adaptive optics capable integral field unit and a multi-fiber feed for spectrographs (MANIFEST). These instruments are in various stages of conceptual design.  


All instrument control systems are developed by different organizations and teams but they share the same architecture, standards and software infrastructure. The Instrument Control Expert will be responsible to interface with internal and external instrument teams that are part of the Project.


This position will report to the Software and Controls Manager and will work closely with the software and hardware architects and other developers to ensure all the instruments can be easily integrated and efficiently operated.



  • Understand telescope software and hardware architecture & standards, and facilitate conformance by instrument teams
  • Ensure adequate communication with instrument teams so that needs and problems are resolved in a timely fashion
  • Develop an in-depth knowledge of the planned instruments: their controls, calibration, operation, data reduction/analysis, sensitivity calculations, etc.
  • Review requirements for the observatory control system and instruments
  • Review schematics for hardware and electronics
  • Define detailed interfaces with instruments
  • Review source code for instrument control and data pipelines in C++ and python
  • Ensure that the instruments integrate into the telescope control system and can be efficiently operated and updated throughout the lifecycle
  • Facilitate development by implementing process, framework, and tools, that enable reusability and collaboration across instrument teams
  • Develop simulators tests to facilitate integration, testing, and operation
  • Design and implement automated tests to validate the instrument performance and health
  • Monitor progress through monthly reports, teleconferences, videoconferences and interim visits
  • Participate in formal external reviews for instruments
  • Document the development process for instruments



  • Masters or PhD in Astronomy, Physics, Engineering, or a related field
  • 5 years of experience in areas of instrumentation, preferably in astronomy
  • Significant demonstrated accomplishments in one or more of mechanical, optical, controls, electronics, modeling and systems studies
  • Python
  • C++
  • Node.Js, Javascript/CoffeeScript
  • UML/SysML
  • Ability to write clear and concise technical documents
  • Ability to efficiently organize work and work independently
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills in English
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Demonstrated ability to work in a team environment
  • Ability to work with cross-functional work teams and users
  • Willingness and ability to travel to foreign and domestic vendor, partner, and observatory locations as the need arises
  • Real time systems for motion control and fast image acquisition and processing
  • Motion control devices: motors, encoders, limits, drivers, temperature sensors
  • CCDs and cameras for astronomy
  • At least one year of systems engineering experience
  • Experience in astronomical data reduction and observational techniques
  • Experience in one or many of the following fields: detectors, vacuum systems, cryogenics


Respond with resume to

The Photonics Group
Call us at 919 479 1941