SALT Observatory Scientist at National Research Foundation

  • Contract Senior EE position

  • Cape Town, Western Cape

  • Market Related salary

  • Job 2207434 | Ref 2879

  • Posted 12 Apr 2018

About the Position

SALT Observatory Scientist

The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) is seeking qualified candidates for the position of SALT Observatory Scientist.

The SAAO is the National Facility for Optical and Infrared Astronomy of the National Research Foundation (NRF). Its headquarters are in Cape Town, while its telescopes Email Addressributed between the two sites, SAAO employs about 130 people, many of them scientists and engineers, and is contracted to operate the 10-m Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), on behalf of the international SALT Foundation. Research focus areas include extragalactic astronomy, time domain astrophysics, planetary astronomy and instrumentation [URL Removed] SALT Observatory Scientist position has been defined by the SALT Board. The main responsibility of the incumbent is to provide input and guidance to the SALT Board, the SAAO Director, and the SALT Operations team on matters that impact SALT's scientific and technical performance and development. The job will be based in Cape Town with frequent travel to Sutherland expected. Science using SALT is strongly encouraged, and other duties related to SAAO activities may be included in consultation with the SAAO Director and SALT Operations Manager.

Specific Responsibilities:

  • Operate at the interface between the Technical and Astronomy groups within the SALT Operations Team.
  • Participate actively in the SALT Scientific and Technical Committee (STC) in a role defined by the Board.
  • Ensure SALT instruments are continually providing best possible science data to the international user community, evaluate and improve systems at SALT.
  • Serve as the contact person with external SALT instrument development teams
  • Foster contacts with other major observatories world-wide.

Minimum requirements:

  • PhD in Astronomy.
  • 10 years of experience in a wide range of optical / near-infrared observatory functions.
  • A publication record establishing both scientific and technical experience in astrophysical research environment.
  • Good written and verbal communication on various levels of technical or formal detail.

Desirable work experience and skills

  • In-depth knowledge of, and practical experience in, astronomical instrumentation, familiarity with specialized technical equipment.
  • Broad knowledge of current astronomical research areas and their relevant technical requirements.
  • Knowledge of SALT and SAAO facilities.
  • Strong interpersonal skills to be able to network efficiently, draw on international expertise, as well as work in a team environment.
  • Ability to analyse and weigh complex priorities, make decisions, and launch new initiatives

The salary package will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.

The filling of this position will be in line with the NRF's Employment Equity Policy and Plan.

For further information please contact the SAAO Director, Petri Vaisanen (Email Address). Applicants should send a cover letter and CV to this address and to the SAAO HR Manager, Linda Tobin (Email Address), and organise two letters of reference to be sent to both addresses.

Applications should be submitted no later than 30th April 2018.

The ideal candidate will have the following competencies:


  • assist in designing electronic circuitry and optical components
  • contribute to developing theories on the basis of observation and experiments
  • Research Outputs, e.g. presentations at international conferences and
  • Data analysis
  • use astronomical telescopes and instruments
  • reduce and analyse astronomical data
  • Publications


  • OR expertise on detectors / instrumentation


  • the acquisition of information
  • the utilisation of information (research, etc.)

About The Employer

National Research Foundation (NRF) supports and promotes research and human capital development though funding, the provision of National Research Facilities and science outreach platforms and programmes to the broader community in all fields of science and technology, including natural science, engineering, social science and humanities.

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