RESEARCH TECHNICIAN: RADIO METEOR DETECTION

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A fixed-term Research Technician position is available at the Armagh Observatory funded by the Europlanet Research Infrastructure (RI) under the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Union (EU). Salary is expected to be in the range 19,299 to 22,236 pounds per annum, but may be higher depending on experience and expertise.

The primary aim of the project is to construct a working instrument prototype able to (1) record and store, in digital form, radiation signals in the ELF/ULF/VLF frequency range (3Hz to 30kHz); (2) pick up naturally-occurring radiation while screening/filtering out man-made interference in this frequency range; and (3) be optimised for the high-quality reception and recording of radiation thought to originate from meteors in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. In addition, the equipment should be capable of operating in the field and at remote sites with a high degree of autonomy.

Candidates must have a high level of competence in general electronics and radio-frequency (RF) systems in particular; a proven record in system-level design and relevant IT skills; and good self-management and communication skills. The successful candidate will be responsible for all technical aspects of the project, including (a) acquiring the necessary parts following appropriate Observatory procedures; (b) constructing the apparatus itself; (c) implementing appropriate protocols for data handling; (d) packaging and ruggedising the apparatus for field operation; (e) validating the equipment, either indoors or in the field as appropriate; and (f) documenting the work carried out at every stage.

The work will involve working closely with the project PI, Dr Apostolos Christou, particularly in the areas of translating project requirements into hardware specifications and ensuring that required specifications can be met within the project constraints. For these purposes, there will be regular meetings of the technician with the PI at the Observatory, several per week during the initial phases of the project and a minimum of 1 per week thereafter. The post is, however, flexible in terms of working hours and work location. The latter can, for example, take place, in whole or in part, outside the Observatory grounds.

Although there are no project-imposed restrictions, other than time and cost, on the path to follow in designing the apparatus, an appropriate starting point for the purposes of this project is described in Rault (WGN, vol 38, no 2, pp67-75, 2010; document available on request). Limited workbench-type facilities exist at the Observatory and a separate budget of approximately 10k GBP has been earmarked within the project for purchasing parts, equipment, software licences, consumables etc.

The post shall commence on the 1st May 2011 or as soon as possible thereafter. It is anticipated that there will be an initial probationary period consisting of the first two calendar months of the Research Technician’s employment during which his/her performance will be assessed. At the end of this period the Research Technician’s ability to establish a working system within the project timeframe and other constraints will be determined and, assuming a successful appraisal, the term of employment will be extended until project completion.

At that time, and assuming that project stages (a) to (f) mentioned above have been met to the PI’s satisfaction, the candidate may have the opportunity to participate in a number of field tests at suitable locations in order to further demonstrate and characterise the operability of the apparatus. The timeframe and details of these tests, which are also funded by Europlanet, will be agreed following discussion between the candidate and the PI.

The initial closing date is 2011 April 1. Late applications may be considered until the position is filled. Applicants should send the completed application form and a full curriculum vitae to: The Administrator, Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh BT61 9DG, Northern Ireland (Tel: +44-(0)28-3752-2928; FAX: +44-(0)28-3752-7174; e-mail: lfyat signarm.ac.uk). Candidates should arrange for references from at least two referees to be sent to the same address as early as possible to ensure full consideration of the application. Shortlisted applicants will be expected to attend an interview shortly after the initial closing date. For more information about the project, please contact the PI, Dr Apostolos Christou, by email at aacat signarm.ac.uk.

The Armagh Observatory is an equal opportunities employer.

Last Revised: 2011 May 26th