Staff Scientist at NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI)

Posted on
Current state: Approved and Notify DPS Secretary
Department: IPAC
City: Pasadena
State/Province: California
Country: USA
Contact Person: David Ciardi & Jessie Christiansen
Contact Email: [email protected]
Institution: Caltech
Application Due Date: Wednesday, April 21 2021
Web Link:

Caltech is a world-renowned science and engineering institute that marshals some of the world’s brightest minds and most innovative tools to address fundamental scientific questions. We thrive on finding and cultivating talented people who are passionate about what they do. Join us and be a part of the diverse Caltech community.

Job Summary

IPAC at Caltech is accepting applications for a scientist to work at the NASA Exoplanet Archive, within the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute. As a scientist at IPAC you will work with a vibrant team of scientists and developers to populate and improve how the NASA Exoplanet Archive serves and visualizes exoplanet atmospheric data, while carrying out your own research program.

IPAC at Caltech
IPAC is located on the campus of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, near the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Caltech is a world-renowned science and engineering research and education institution, as well as a thriving community of curious and passionate people who collaborate to understand and solve complex scientific and societal challenges. Caltech also operates large-scale research facilities such as the Palomar Observatory, Keck Observatory, and LIGO, which in 2016 observed gravitational waves from colliding black holes for the first time. Caltech is an award-winning workplace and one of the best places to work in the greater Los Angeles area. IPAC staff have access to the Institute’s facilities, including the athletic center, libraries, on-site daycare, professional development and enrichment classes, and Athenaeum club membership. As a scientist at IPAC you will have access to institutional observing resources at Palomar Observatory and Las Cumbres Observatory. We offer an exciting and dynamic environment, exceptional career development opportunities, competitive pay programs, great benefits, and the opportunity to participate in many campus programs and activities. We seek the best and brightest talent to join our workforce and become members of our community. Exceptional employees are the key to Caltech’s remarkable success.

The NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI)
As a part of IPAC, the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI; provides science operations, analysis tools and archive services related to the discovery and characterization of planets beyond our solar system (exoplanets) using data from observatories in space and on the ground. NExScI operates the NASA Exoplanet Archive which is the premiere exoplanet catalog and is seeking a scientist to help guide the expansion of the Exoplanet Archive to serve and visualize exoplanet atmospheric data. Together IPAC and NExScI support more than 20 astronomy missions which have made or will make major contributions in exoplanet science, astrophysics and cosmology. These include past missions such as Spitzer, Kepler; and WISE, on-going missions such as NEOWISE, TESS and the 10 m Keck telescopes, and future missions such as the Roman Space Telescope, ESA’s ARIEL and EUCLID projects, and the SPHEREx Explorer.

NASA’s Exoplanet Archive is a key component of NExScI and is NASA’s official repository of confirmed exoplanets. The Exoplanet Archive is used by researchers worldwide and provides an integrated interface of exoplanet system parameters published in the literature and produced by missions such as CoRoT, Kepler, K2, and TESS. The Exoplanet Archive is a dynamic service that is constantly evolving to meet the needs of the exoplanetary astrophysics community with an ever increasing set of holdings on new planets, survey data, and mission products relevant to exoplanet discovery and characterization. The data and interfaces used continue to evolve and expand, and the Exoplanet Archive is seeking a motivated scientist to help guide the Archive in the development of new visualization environments for exoplanet atmospheric data. You will have a role as part of the Exoplanet Archive team in creating and expanding this vibrant environment for exoplanet researchers.

NExScI at IPAC is part of an active scientific atmosphere as part of Caltech and associated with JPL as well as being embedded in the Southern California environment.  As a member of this scientific community, you are encouraged to have an independent research program in exoplanet and/or planetary science.

Job Duties

  • Work with the NASA Exoplanet Archive team of scientists and developers to identify new exoplanet datasets related to atmospheric characterization and to define and develop new tools, capabilities, and interfaces for users to visualize and interact with exoplanet atmospheric data.
  • Work with the Exoplanet Archive team to identify and ingest new exoplanet systems into the archive
  • Carry out a research program related to exoplanet science
  • Network and build relationships with the wider exoplanet and planetary science communities

Basic Qualifications

  • PhD in Planetary Science, Astronomy, or related discipline
  • Strong oral and written communication skills as well as the ability to work well with others on a small team
  • Comprehensive knowledge of exoplanet detection and characterization techniques

Preferred Qualifications

These are a set of skills and experiences which will add to your ability to contribute to the roles and responsibilities of the position. The following attributes would make you a better fit for this position, but even if these do not describe you or your experience, we would still like to hear from you.

  • Experience with exoplanet atmosphere characterization techniques
  • Experience with python and scripting

Required Documents

  • Resume
  • Cover letter
  • List of three professional references

People choose to work at IPAC for many reasons, and the casual, employee-centric culture often leads to fulfilling, long-term careers and lasting relationships. IPAC staff have access to the Institute’s benefits programs, facilities, including the athletic center, libraries, on-site daycare, professional development and enrichment classes, and Athenaeum club membership.

Depending on start date, an initial remote working arrangement may be considered for up to six months.

You can also find the position listed on Caltech’s website here.

EEO Statement

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Caltech is a VEVRAA Federal Contractor.

To read more Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) go to eeoc_self_print_poster.pdf.

Disability Accommodations

If you would like to request an accommodation in completing this application, interviewing, or otherwise participating in the employee selection process, please direct your inquiries to Caltech Recruiting at [email protected]

Application Deadline: Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Selection Deadline: Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Current Status of Position: Accepting Applicants