Postdoctoral Researcher in Radio Astronomy Simulations

At the SKAO we are coordinating a global effort to deliver one of the largest science facilities on the planet. The SKAO telescopes will be next-generation instruments that will help to answer key questions in astrophysics, drive technological innovation and support human capital development. 

More than a dozen partner countries and over a thousand scientists and engineers around the world are already on board, making the SKA project an international collaboration like no other, and one of the most ambitious science and engineering endeavours of the 21st century.

Headquartered in the UK, with telescope sites in Australia and South Africa, the SKAO will be one observatory operating two telescopes, an endeavour spanning three continents. Multinational by design, in early 2021 the SKAO became an intergovernmental organisation, one of only a select handful of science infrastructures to do so worldwide.

Our Global HQ is located near the buzzing city of Manchester at the historic Jodrell Bank Observatory, a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Cheshire countryside. It is home to a rapidly expanding international team of more than a hundred, working in a highly collaborative and inclusive way, in coordination with SKAO teams in Australia and South Africa as part of a global astronomy and engineering community.

Being part of Team SKA means contributing to something extraordinary: a uniquely exciting project to advance human knowledge that will last for decades. In return, we offer a diverse multicultural working environment, 30 days annual leave plus public holidays, a generous pension scheme, visa and support with relocation (if applicable), regular social events, a family-friendly environment and much more. Come and join us!

Postdoctoral Researcher in Radio Astronomy Simulations

An amazing opportunity for an enthusiastic postdoctoral research assistant with experience of radio astronomical data modelling and simulation, and radio astronomical calibration and imaging algorithms and tools, to join an international, multicultural organisation.

Job Location
Cheshire, UK (Head Office)
Area / Department
Contract Type
Fixed Term Contract
GBP 41,000 - 48,000 depending on experience, with excellent benefits
Closing Date
Ref No

The Role

The Postdoctoral Researcher in Radio Astronomy Simulations will play a major part in developing radio astronomy simulations in collaboration with existing Science and Operations team members, to support various activities necessary for the delivery of SKAO. An immediate application will be in support of the SKAO Science Data Challenges. This initiative, led by the SKAO Science team, aims to release with a regular cadence increasingly realistic simulated SKA datasets and data products to the international scientific user community, together with a specific data analysis exercise for them to solve (the challenge) and a set of tools and services to support the completion of the exercise and the evaluation of the results.

Further applications will depend on the progress and needs of SKAO science operations and science commissioning activities, and might include supporting the prototyping and validation of SKAO/SKA regional centres data analysis pipelines, supporting SKAO science commissioning/science verification observations, etc.

The role will report to the SKA Project Scientist with responsibility for the coordination of the SKA Science Data Challenges.

The role is a 3-year fixed term appointment and will be based at the SKAO Global Headquarters at the iconic Jodrell Bank Observatory, Cheshire, UK.

SKAO is committed to providing an inclusive and flexible working environment, meeting the requests of our Colleagues whilst also fulfilling the needs and objectives of the Observatory.

We encourage applications from under-represented groups such as women and individuals with disabilities, as well as open conversations during the recruitment process in relation to any specific requirements.

There may be occasions where this role requires the post holder to work across different time zones and, in line with SKAO policy, flexible working hours will be supported in agreement with the line manager.

Key Responsibilities, Accountabilities and Duties

  • Development of radio astronomy simulations of SKAO data products using existing packages and code as well as customised packages and code in collaboration with the SKAO Science and Operations Team.
  • Development of astrophysical sky models for use in radio astronomy simulations in consultation with the SKA user community.
  • Development and maintenance of tools to support the SKA science data challenge progression (e.g. data challenge website, community forum, evaluation procedures).
  • Publication of data challenges outcomes in major astronomical journals.
  • Installation and maintenance of astronomy packages and software in a Linux cluster environment.
  • The role will provide the opportunity for 25 percent independent research.
  • The role will provide the opportunity for international travel to conferences and other events.

Mandatory Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • PhD in Astronomy, Physics or a closely related field.
  • Experience with astronomical data modelling and simulation, and understanding of the concept of simulated astronomical observations.
  • Significant familiarity with the major calibration and imaging packages used in Radio Astronomy (AIPS, Miriad, CASA), as well as with the underlying algorithms that those packages implement.
  • Experience with installation, maintenance and customisation of astronomical software packages in a Linux/Unix/MacOSX environment.
  • Experience or solid knowledge of Python scripting.
  • Be a flexible team player who is adaptable to change.

Desirable Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • Expertise in software development including Version control/code collaboration tools (e.g. Git, Mercurial).
  • Knowledge of software and tools to simulate radio astronomical observations (e.g. OSKAR, RASCIL).
  • Knowledge of Open science and FAIR principles.
  • Expertise in Code Optimization for multi-processor CPUs and/or GPUs.

Equality Diversity and Inclusion Statement

SKA Observatory recognises that our diversity is a strength. We aim to create a welcoming and inclusive environment where everyone feels they belong, and diverse perspectives and ideas thrive. As such, Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion are at the core of SKA Observatory’s agenda.

Our aim is to recruit and retain the most talented individuals, regardless of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, nationality or background.

Women have traditionally been under-represented in the fields of science and engineering; SKA Observatory welcomes and encourages female applicants. 

Where applicants with a disability need facilities or adjustments to enable them to participate in the recruitment process, these will be provided.

SKA Observatory welcome all candidates, especially those from member countries.

The “How to Apply” information contained within the SKA Observatory recruitment portal provides more detail regarding our application and selection approach.