IPAC at the California Institute of Technology is soliciting applications for an Applied Data Scientist to work on the Near Earth Object (NEO) Surveyor program. NEO Surveyor is a NASA Planetary Defense mission that will launch in early 2026. The NEO Surveyor observatory consists of a passively cooled 50 cm telescope located at Sun-Earth L1 equipped with a wide-field camera that will image the sky simultaneously in two mid-infrared bands. Operations will be optimized to detect, track, and characterize Near Earth Objects (NEOs) and more distant small bodies in the solar system. NEO Surveyor will detect approximately 100,000 Main Belt Asteroids, NEOs, and comets each day against a background of tens of millions of distant stars and galaxies.
IPAC is developing and will operate the Survey Data System (NSDS) for NEO Surveyor that ingests raw data from the flight system, processes those data into calibrated image and source detection products, performs automated searches for moving solar system objects, assesses the quality of the survey data, and distributes data products to NASA archives and the user community. The NSDS will make use of machine learning based automated classifiers in several key steps including differentiation between real and spurious detections of moving object candidates, identification of reliable moving object tracklet candidates, and identification of comet candidates in the moving object detection stream.