Johns Hopkins University, Physics and Astronomy

Position ID:JHU-Physics-ARSXRAY [#21526]
Position Title: Assistant Research Scientists
Position Type:Postdoctoral
Position Location:Greenbelt, Maryland 20771, United States [map]
Subject Area: Astronomy / Astrophysics
Appl Deadline:2022/05/13 11:59PMhelp popup (posted 2022/03/29, listed until 2022/09/28)
Position Description:   Remote  

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Johns Hopkins University (JHU) seeks up to 3 post-doctoral scientists to advance ESA’s Athena mission by working to assist with NASA’s contribution at the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). The successful candidates will be employed by JHU as Assistant Research Scientists and co-located on-site at the GSFC in Greenbelt, MD. More senior candidates will be considered.

Athena is an X-ray astrophysics mission slated to launch in 2034 and will advance all areas of X-ray astronomy. One of the main NASA contributions to Athena will be testing and calibration of the Athena X-ray mirror at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) X-ray and Cryogenics Facility (XRCF; Initial testing of a partially-populated optic at the XRCF will start in 2024. NASA is also planning to contribute to the Athena Science Ground Segment (SGS) in the areas of science simulation, data pipeline, and calibration software.

The ideal candidates would have experience in X-ray optics calibration, raytracing, and/or simulation software development. The three positions are in the following areas:

1) X-ray optics calibration scientist: Working on ray-trace models of the NASA/XRCF X-ray optics calibration setup to help establish requirements and X-ray testing procedures. The X-ray optics calibration scientist will also be working closely with engineers and scientists at NASA/MSFC. Key responsibilities for the X-ray optics calibration position include assisting with the development of XRCF data reduction pipeline, calibration of the CCD detectors, algorithm development of analysis tools, and raytrace code development (with emphasis on ground calibration raytracing in the XRCF environment).

2) Scientific software development: Working with both the X-ray optics calibration and the NASA Athena SGS teams to assist in the development of ray-tracing code for the XRCF calibration setup and to incorporate X-ray raytracing code into Athena science simulation software (the SIXTE software package

3) Scientific software development: Assisting with the development of the SIXTE science simulation package, also with emphasis on incorporation of raytracing code into SIXTE. Duties would also include assisting with the incorporation of SIXTE and initial Athena pipeline processing code into cloud computing architectures.

For all positions experience with scientific software development, preferably including compiled languages, would be ideal. For the scientific software development positions, experience with developing software in a cloud environment such as SciServer ( would be desirable. The scientific software development positions would also assist with the planning for incorporation of NASA Athena efforts into the Athena SGS plans, for example transferring calibration expertise from the XRCF optics testing, WFI background modeling, and X-IFU development into the Athena SGS and simulation efforts.

For these full-time positions approximately 75% of time is devoted to the NASA Athena responsibilities and the remainder is available for self-driven original research projects, preferably in high energy astrophysics or other science areas with direct applicability to Athena. We anticipate these to be multi-year positions with annual reappointments.

Candidates must have a Ph.D. in Physics or Astronomy, or a related field, by the date of the appointment. A proven record of scientific research in X-ray astrophysics is also required. In addition to the expertise described above, preference will be given to applicants exhibiting the ability and inclination to provide thorough, readable, and user-friendly documentation.

Goddard COVID-19 restrictions may require that the successful candidate work at Johns Hopkins or remotely, but we expect the candidate to transition back to on-site GSFC work when possible. Requested exceptions can be discussed as part of the hiring process. The candidate may be required to be vaccinated.

Complete applications received by May 13 will receive full consideration but the positions will remain available until filled. Candidates must provide a cover letter, curriculum vitae including a complete publications list, a statement of interest, and contact information for three references via Academic Jobs Online (

Questions regarding the position should be addressed to

Johns Hopkins University is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of gender, marital status, pregnancy, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status, other legally protected characteristics or any other occupationally irrelevant criteria. The University promotes Affirmative Action for minorities, women, individuals who are disabled, and veterans. Johns Hopkins University is a drug-free, smoke-free workplace.

Application Materials Required:
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Further Info:
The Johns Hopkins University
Department of Physics and Astronomy
3400 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218