ALMA Astronomer - Department of Science Operations

Research Santiago, Chile


ALMA Vacancy Notice


The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded by ESO on behalf of its Member States, by NSF in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) in Taiwan and by NINS in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI).


ALMA construction and operations are led by ESO on behalf of its Member States; by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), on behalf of North America; and by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) on behalf of East Asia. The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.

The Joint ALMA Observatory invites applications for the position of:

Astronomer - Department of Science Operations (two vacancies)


Successful candidates will work in the Operations Performance Group within the JAO Department of Science Operations. The JAO Department of Science Operations (DSO) is responsible for the ALMA observations. It consists of five groups: the Array Operations Group (AOG), the Program Management Group (PMG), the Operations Performance Group (OPG), the Array Performance Group (APG), and the Data Management Group (DMG). Overall these groups are responsible for the data collection process as well as data quality assurance. DSO also leads the planning of improvements to the science operations as well are participates in the Development Program as part of commissioning new capabilities.




Operations Astronomers in the ALMA Department of Science Operations will be based in the ALMA offices in Santiago, with regular trips to the ALMA Operations Support Facility near San Pedro de Atacama to serve as Astronomer on Duty (AoD). They will also travel occasionally to the ALMA Regional Centers (ARCs) to work with the ALMA partners. The responsibilities of these astronomers could include:


  • Improving the efficiency of ALMA operations
  • Developing, improving, and executing the ALMA calibration plan
  • Testing of and providing requirements for software used for Science Operations
  • Scheduling and executing observations
  • Tracking the progress of observing programs
  • Data processing and quality assurance of ALMA data
  • Developing documentation needed for science operations as well as the content of the JAO web pages
  • Conducting technical reviews of ALMA proposals


The successful candidate will be expected and encouraged to conduct astronomical research. Research components vary depending on contract but are typically 20-25%. Research in areas directed towards use of ALMA will be strongly encouraged.


Professional Requirements/Qualifications


Applicants for this position shall fulfill the following requirements:

  • PhD in Astronomy or Physics minimum three years of experience, postdoctoral or equivalent.
  • Experience in millimeter-wavelength observations (single dish or interferometry).
  • Previous experience in operating radio interferometers and/or single-dish telescopes and instruments is an asset.
  • Experience in data reduction of radio astronomical data (using any of the standard packages such as CASA, GILDAS, AIPS, MIRIAD, etc) is an asset.
  • Fluency in the English language (oral and written).
  • Strong interpersonal communication skills and ability to work in a multidisciplinary team, including operators, astronomers and system/software engineers.
  • Proven track record of scientific research.


Due to travel requirements and work at high altitudes, a successful high-altitude medical check is a necessary condition of employment for this position.


Duty Station / Location of Position & working conditions


Duty station: The JAO in Santiago and the Operations Support Facility (OSF) near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. The successful applicant will be required to spend a significant amount of time (~8 shifts per year) working at the ALMA sites at OSF (2900m elevation) and occasionally at the Array Operations Site (5000m elevation).

Physical health compatible with high altitude conditions. A successful High Altitude Medical Exam is a necessary condition of employment.




Actual contractual terms will be defined by the selected employer (ESO, AUI/NRAO or NAOJ).




ALMA International Staff will be recruited as employees of ESO, AUI/NRAO or NAOJ. Each of these employers offer competitive remuneration packages including a competitive salary as well as comprehensive social benefits, and provide financial support in relocating families. Furthermore, if applicable, an expatriation allowance as well as some other allowances will be added.


Application process & contracts


ALMA International Staff Members will be engaged to work at the JAO through one of the Executives: ESO, AUI/NRAO, or NAOJ. Candidates should apply through the Recruitment Portal(s) of the ALMA Executive (ESO, AUI/NRAO, NAOJ) from which s/he would like to receive a contract offer. Once the selection process is completed, each ALMA Executive will send a contract offer to the successful candidate, who needs to confirm which offer will decide to take.


Qualified applicants with extensive relevant experience are invited to apply by submitting an application to one of the ALMA Executives. Each application should be written in English and must include:


  • Motivational cover letter;
  • Curriculum Vitae;
  • Three reference letters.

Applicants submitting their application to ESO are invited to apply online at


Applicants submitting their application to AUI/NRAO are invited to apply online at


Applicants submitting their application to NAOJ are invited to send their application and reference letters to [email protected]


Deadline for receipt of applications to be considered is March 25th, 2021.


ESO, NRAO, and NAOJ are Equal Opportunity Employers.


For further information please consult (, as well as the ESO, NRAO, and/or NAOJ Home Pages (, (, or


ESO, NRAO, and NAOJ are Equal Opportunity Employers. The post is equally open to suitably qualified female and male applicants.