Research - Laboratory/Non-Laboratory, Staff/Administrative
Researcher 7 (working title: Research Fellow):
The BICEP-Array winter over Researcher is solely responsible for the success or failure of the entire experiment once the Austral summer team leaves. The experiment represents an investment of approximately $20 million and 40-person years of effort by a team of more than 20 people. Poor judgment or decision making could result in the experiment being crippled for the remainder of the winter season resulting in huge implied costs and loss of scientific competitiveness. We plan carefully for every eventuality and keep many spare parts on site. Nevertheless, the possibility for unrecoverable failure due to human error exists and has occurred in the past.
The researcher will start work in September or October 2021 and deploy to South Pole via New Zealand in late October or early November. They will remain at South Pole until November 2022 through the long Antarctic night. During this period, they will have sole responsibility for maintaining and operating the telescope while science data is recorded.
During the winter the Researcher will receive considerable support and guidance via internet and satellite telephone communications. Nevertheless, the position requires an exceptionally stable individual who is self-motivated, but also able to communicate and take direction well. It is critical that the work be conducted competently. Decisions, judgments and recommendations made by the Researcher will have a major impact on the success of the project.
Job Description The School of Physics and Astronomy is looking for a full time Researcher to work on a cosmic microwave background polarization experiment located at the South Pole. A winter-over Researcher is required to maintain and operate the BICEP-Array experiment at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. BICEP-Array is a new telescope system poised to make ground-breaking measurements of the polarization of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation left over from the big bang birth of the Universe. The South Pole Station has a summer population of around 150 and a winter population of around 40. During the winter season (northern hemisphere's summer) travel to/from the base is not possible for eight months due to the extreme cold.
30% Instrument integration, calibration and commissioning and calibration. During the Austral summer season assist a team of specialists with the installation of complex new microwave receivers into the existing telescope mount and control systems.
65% Maintain and operate the telescope while science data is recorded. During the Austral winter season this will involve routine monitoring of the compressed helium refrigerator system and monitoring of the accumulating data to detect problems with the instrument in a proactive manner. As and when problems arise with any of the telescope sub-systems the winter-over Researcher must then work to diagnose and rectify them, often seeking assistance from remote team members. Make sure the systems are working properly. Design and modify parts for the best performance of the telescope. The winter-over will collaborate in the observation design to maximize experimental efficiency. The winter-over scientist is responsible for daily monitoring of the data quality. Detection of sometimes subtle problems is critical to avoid wastage of time and make the most efficient use possible of the very large investment of money and manpower which the telescope represents. The winter-over scientist is invited to collaborate in the higher level interpretation of the data in so far as on-site computing power and fulfillment of their other critical day-to-day duties allows.
Diagnose, Problem Solve and Repair The telescope is a complex system with optical, electronic, cryogenic, mechanical and software components, so skills in all parts are necessary. The Researcher will diagnose and correct errors to make sure the telescope is working properly, The South Pole is a very harsh place not just for people, but also for the equipment where the experience from previous seasons helps for dealing with certain facts, i.e. high altitude, low humidity, high static. Improvising is very important since there is a very limited supply of spare parts. The Researcher must be able to decide about repairs to keep the telescope running around the clock. Receiving feedback from the U.S. may take many hours or days due to the different time zones internet availability.
Independent Decisions The Researcher will be the only person manning the telescope during winter. The lab is isolated and only has internet for a few hours per day. There are a lot of situations which demand an independent decision. The telescope runs around the clock. Major decisions we try to make in the collaboration, but there are certain emergencies like power outages, ice plugs, shorts etc. that might need a decision without the time to ask the collaboration, and, in the worst case, the telescope can be at stake.
5% Regular collaboration with the Principal Investigator (PI) for the project. Weekly status reports at a minimum to the PI, along with daily interaction with project team members.
The above statements are intended to describe the general nature of the work being performed by people assigned to this job. They do not comprise an exhaustive list of all duties and responsibilities associated with it.
Other duties of a similar scope as assigned.
Required This Research positions require a M.S. degree in Physics, Astronomy or Engineering with substantial research and publication record. Knowledge and experience with mechanical, electronic and computer systems is required. Field experience and the proven ability to diagnose and repair complicated scientific instruments in the field are required.
Mental Demands: Problem-solving, multi-tasking, organizing, instrument reading, detailed work, reasoning, interpersonal skills, oral communication, written communication. Work independently and efficiently while isolated. The capability to make correct and level headed decisions under pressure in the field. Due to the remote and challenging nature of the job site, the position requires an exceptionally mentally-stable individual who is self-motivated, but also able to communicate and take direction well.
Physical Demands: The Researcher must be able to work in a harsh environment. Working with hands, bending, stooping, climbing on telescopes, and moderate to heavy lifting. Again due to the job site, good physical health is also required.
Preferred: Experience and knowledge of cryogenic and telescope control systems.
Internal Number: 340477
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