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Postbaccalaureate Positions at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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Applications are now being accepted for short-term postbaccalaureate research positions to support the Astrophysics Science and Solar System Exploration Divisions at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA/GSFC) in Greenbelt, MD. The position is funded by Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA) through the Center for Research and Exploration in Space Science and Technology II (CRESST II).

The Astrophysics Science Division conducts a broad program of research in astronomy, astrophysics, and fundamental physics. Individual investigations address issues such as the nature of dark matter and dark energy, which planets outside our solar system may harbor life, and the nature of space, time, and matter at the edges of black holes.

The Solar System Exploration Division conducts theoretical and experimental research to explore the solar system and understand the formation and evolution of planetary systems. Laboratories within the division investigate areas as diverse as astrochemistry, planetary atmospheres, geochemistry, geophysics, geodynamics, space geodesy, extrasolar planetary systems, and comparative planetary studies.

Positions available within the Astrophysics Science and Solar System Exploration Divisions span a variety of research areas. Successful candidates will be chosen to work on one of the research areas listed below.

  • Project #1 - Exoplanet spectroscopy modeling with the Planetary Spectrum Generator and development of the open-access exoplanet software database called the Exoplanet Modeling & Analysis Center.
  • Project #2 - Data processing software development for the spectroscopic observing mode of the Coronagraph Instrument on the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope.
  • Project #3 - Assist in laboratory demonstrations of a prototype Integral Field Spectrograph camera for characterizing Earth-like exoplanets with a future Habitable Worlds Observatory.
  • Project #4 - The position’s duties primarily involve generating and analyzing high-resolution digital elevation models of the Moon to support scientific research and human/robotic exploration. As NASA plans a return to the Moon with the Artemis program, this is your chance to be involved and contribute to the next steps in space exploration!
  • Project #5 - Seeking an applicant interested in analytical chemistry for a Planetary Protection Research project characterizing the organic compounds present in curation and spacecraft assembly areas. Samples include witness materials such as non-volatile residue foils and solid phase microextraction (SPME) fibers and analysis may require thermal desorption, solvent extraction, solid phase extraction (SPE), and derivatization for analysis by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and high-resolution mass spectrometry.
  • Project #6 - Work with the GSFC Astrophysics Communications Team to develop outreach materials about the Habitable Worlds Observatory, a future large NASA space telescope.
  • Project #7 - Assist in further development of state-of-the-art particle-in-cell and Bayesian Markov Chain Monte Carlo codes to incorporate more physically realistic effects that will explore the foundations of pulsar high-energy emission and lead to neutron star parameter inference on NICER and Fermi data sets. Strong computational affinity is required. Previous experience in Fortran or C would be a major advantage.
  • Project #8 - There is an ongoing program of multi-wavelength studies of active galaxies (AGNs) and merging galaxies, with an emphasis in X-ray detection and analysis from XMM-Newton and Chandra. X-ray-focused projects related to higher-redshift AGNs consist of cataloging background AGNs in new XMM-Newton X-ray images, where the applicant could assist with the detection and analysis of the background AGNs, including any transient objects detected. Ongoing work related to merging galaxies includes a variety of areas where applicants can participate: morphological classifications of samples of mid-IR selected galaxy merger candidates, archival multi-band data collection and synthesis, and multi-band source detection spanning the X-rays, optical, and radio (expertise in radio astronomy not required) for a number of known samples of galaxy mergers and dual AGNs.
  • Project #9 - The post-bacc would become involved in ongoing multi-wavelength studies of the AGN-host galaxy connection and co-evolution. In particular, we are interested in examining the multi-wavelength properties of edge-on galaxies with prominent outflow features, in order to trace stellar and AGN contributions. The postbacc would have the opportunity to develop reduction and analysis skills related to a wide variety of data, both imaging and spectroscopy, including XMM-Newton, Chandra, MUSE, Keck, HST, Spitzer, VLASS, and/or JWST. Example projects and tasks involve: mapping soft X-ray emission in Chandra images on radio data, tracing outflow velocities or high ionization emission throughout the galaxy using MUSE data cubes, analyzing multi-wavelength (X-ray, optical, infrared) spectra for AGN or stellar-driven outflow diagnostics, etc.

Candidates should be soon or recent graduate with bachelor’s degree in astronomy, physics, computer science, chemistry, communications or a related science, or engineering discipline. We encourage applicants who are considering applying to a graduate program in the near future, and who wish to expand their research experience in the interim to also apply. Successful candidates will have significant experience in scientific programming (Python in particular is a major plus) OR physical/chemical laboratory work OR communications.

To apply, each applicant should send a Curriculum Vitae, unofficial transcript, ranked list by preference of the research areas of most interest, and contact information for two references – to Katherine McKee (katherine.s.mckee@nasa.gov). An optional cover letter describing personal background and interest in the applicants chosen field will also be accepted. Once sponsors review applications, additional support materials may be requested which may include a work sample in the form of a report, poster, journal article, writing sample, or coding examples. Applications received by Friday, April 7, 2023, will receive best consideration but positions will remain available until filled.

This is a full-time position working on-site at NASA/GSFC for 40 hours/week. Salary and benefits are competitive, commensurate with experience and qualifications. The desired start date is in the range from April - September 2023, with an initial employment term of 1 year that may be extended for 1 additional year contingent on performance and availability of funds.

For more information about the proposed research in Project #1 contact Dr. Avi Mandell (avi.mandell@nasa.gov), Project #2-3 Neil Zimmerman (neil.t.zimmerman@nasa.gov), Project #4 Erwan Mazarico (erwan.m.mazarico@nasa.gov), Project #5 Heather Graham (heather.v.graham@nasa.gov), Project #6 Aki Roberge (aki.roberge-1@nasa.gov), Project #7 Constantinos Kalapotharakos (konstantinos.kalapotharakos@nasa.gov), and Project #8-9 Kimberly Weaver (kimberly.a.weaver@nasa.gov). For information on CRESST II or SURA, contact Ms. Carolyn Wilson (cwilson@sura.org). SURA is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes all to apply. EOE/M/F/D/V.

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