Science and Technology

Job Details

Number: 2104

Title: Senior Adaptive Optics Scientist

Element: Wavefront Sensing and Control

Type: Full time

Location: Pasadena, CA (temporary remote work due to COVID-19)

This exciting job opportunity is with the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) project HQ located in Pasadena, California. The GMT is being developed by a group of leading university and research centers from across the globe. GMTO Corporation has been formed to design, construct and operate the GMT, which will be located in the Andean mountains at Las Campanas Peak in Chile. The GMT is the next generation astronomical observatory with 10 times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope. The project is entering the formal construction phase with scientific operations expected to begin in 2030.


The successful candidate will be an employee of the GMTO Corporation and must be able to meet pre-employment requirements including any background and reference checks and the successful candidate must be a US citizen or eligible to work in the United States and at least 18 years of age. GMTO provides competitive salaries and a generous benefits package.

Job Summary:
The Senior Adaptive Optics (AO) Scientist will play a lead role in the design, development, integration, and testing of the GMT adaptive and active optics control subsystems with focus on the Laser Tomography Adaptive Optics (LTAO) observation mode. Assignments will encompass simulation of AO and telescope-segment phasing performance, developing/reviewing requirements and performance budgets, reviewing and analyzing the results of laboratory prototypes and Wavefront Control testbeds.

The Senior AO Scientist will work within the Wavefront Sensing and Control group reporting directly to the Wavefront Sensing and Control Manager and will collaborate closely with the Lead AO Scientist and other WFSC team members.

This position will participate in the review of test results from AO subsystems developed by partner institutions and industrial vendors, and will play a key role in the integration, testing, and commissioning of the GMT AO system at Las Campanas Observatory.

Job Duties:
• Participate in the concept and design of real time LTAO and phasing control systems
• Simulate Wavefront sensing and control performance using analytical models
• Review test results and contribute to data processing of optical testbeds designed to verify active and adaptive optics control algorithms and end-to-end performance
• Prepare technical reports to document the GMT AO design and performance
• Prepare and deliver presentations at technical reviews and conferences
• Participate in the procurement and testing of AO-related subsystems such as wavefront sensors, calibration sources, real-time computer systems and/or laser guide star systems
• Evaluate GMT AO performance during telescope commissioning

Essential Skills, Knowledge, and Abilities:
• Ph.D. in optical science, astronomy, physics, or a related field
• Demonstrated ability to work in a cross functional collaborative team environment that spans the globe
• At least five (5) years of experience in the development or use of adaptive optics systems
• Outstanding analytical and simulation skills
• Strength in AO theory, modeling techniques, components, and testing methods
• Competency using high-level programming languages such as Matlab, IDL, or Python
• Superb written and oral communication skills in English
• Willingness to travel to foreign and domestic vendor and observatory locations as the need arises

Desired Skills, Knowledge, and Abilities:
• Real time controls experience
• Systems Engineering experience
• Hands-on experience developing and testing astronomical adaptive optics systems or laboratory optical testbeds
• Versed in use of Zemax, Code V, or similar optical design and analysis tools

Please send your CV and a Cover Letter to

If your skills and experience appear to be a match or if we need additional information to make a decision, we will contact you. If we do not see a suitable match between your qualifications and the position, we will keep your information on file in the event future positions become available that are more suitable to your qualifications.

GMTO is an equal employment opportunity employer