Gaia/PLATO Research Software Engineer (Technician)
Limited funding: The funds for this post are available until 31 March 2025 in
the first instance with good prospects for further extension subject to grant
funding. The anticipated start date is 1st December 2022 or as early as
This is an exciting opportunity for an ambitious research software engineer to
work at the Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit (CASU) in the Institute of
Astronomy (IoA) as part of the Gaia and PLATO system development teams.
Gaia is space observatory of the European Space Agency (ESA), launched in
2013 and expected to operate until 2025. Gaia's key objective is a detailed
study of the Milky Way that will reveal our Galaxy's content, dynamics,
current state and formation history.
The IoA Gaia team are responsible for the processing and analysis of the
photometric and low-resolution spectroscopic data collected by ESA's Gaia
PLATO is a European Space Agency (ESA) mission that will detect and
characterise a huge sample of exoplanets around bright stars. PLATO is
currently scheduled to be launched at the end of 2026. Within the PLATO
Consortium, the IoA team are responsible for the development and operation of
the Exoplanet Analysis System, which will enable the detection of the
signatures of exoplanets from high-precision photometric light curves of the
The successful candidate will work within CASU's PLATO and Gaia software
development teams. The role will focus on development of the data processing
software for both Gaia and PLATO, including automation, large scale
distributed processing, data analysis and data management. The work involves
all phases of the development cycle, including systems analysis, design,
implementation, testing, documentation and improvement of existing code. The
post-holder will have the opportunity to build upon their experience and to
take on a wide selection of roles as needed. The role will also involve:
liaising with the wider PLATO and Gaia project teams and external science
users; contributing to the documentation and user manuals. The role will
include opportunities to interact with the wider CASU team.
The successful candidate will have a good practical knowledge of scientific
processing development and at least a BSc (Hons) degree in a numerate
discipline (preferably Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or a science
with a significant computing element). Systems administration experience
would be advantageous.
Knowledge of Python and/or Java and object oriented programming is required.
An understanding of abstraction including familiarity with software design
patterns is essential. Experience with Spark, Kubernetes and knowledge of
database systems would be advantageous.
The post-holder will be required to attend meetings both elsewhere in the UK
The University of Cambridge thrives on the diversity of its staff and
students. Applications from underrepresented groups are particularly welcome.
We have an active Equality and Diversity Committee which continually works to
further the aims of the Athena SWAN charter. The University has a number of
family-friendly policies and initiatives, including a returning-carer scheme,
childcare costs support, university workplace nurseries, university holiday
play-schemes, and a shared parental-leave policy. As part of its commitment to
providing a family-friendly environment for researchers, the IoA ensures that
should parental leave be needed during the course of employment, there is
provision for extension to contract to compensate for the parental leave
Click the 'Apply' button below to register an account with our recruitment
system (if you have not already) and apply online.
Interviews will be held in the week beginning 7th November 2022
Informal enquires can be addressed via email to Dr Nicholas Walton
Please quote reference LG33062 on your application and in any correspondence
about this vacancy.
The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and
encourages applications from all sections of society.
The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible
to live and work in the UK.
Institute of Astronomy
7 September 2022
19 October 2022