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SKA South Africa vacancies

SKA SA Data Scientist
Closing date: 5 December 2015

SKA SA Radio Frequency (RF) Technician
Closing date: 6 December 2015

SKA SA VLBI Operations and Commissioning Scientist

The South African SKA Project (SKA SA) is a project of the Department of Science and Technology, administered by the National Research Foundation. SKA SA is responsible for South Africa's bid to host the Square Kilometre Array Radio Telescope, support the International Consortiums of SKA during the on-going pre-construction phase studies, the design and construction of the Karoo Array Radio Telescope (MeerKAT) and African VLBI Network (AVN). The focus is development of high-level capacity in radio astronomy and the engineering disciplines relevant to radio astronomy.

The AVN aims to establish Radio Astronomy Stations using Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) techniques in the partner countries of SKA. This will include the conversion of redundant large telecommunications antennas in some of these countries as well as new-builds.

Towards this, SKA SA is looking to appoint a VLBI Operations and Commissioning Scientist, to be based at Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO), Gauteng, South Africa (see for more details), who need to travel to the AVN VLBI telescope locations in Africa as and when needed. A valid drivers' license and a passport with no restrictions for International travel is an essential requirement.

Minimum education: PhD in physics/astro-physics

Minimum work experience: Minimum 1 year after PhD qualification

Duties and responsibilities included but not limited to:

  • To plan and carry out commissioning activities (including VLBI hardware backend set-up, software installations and science operations), transfer knowledge and skills to partner country trainees and to provide technical support for partner country teams for radio telescopes of the AVN to meet the research objectives of its users
  • To participate in scheduled VLBI operations at HartRAO as per the requirements of the European VVBI Network (EVN) and International VLBI Service (IVS)
  • To conduct scientific research at HartRAO, leading to publications in internationally recognised, peer-reviewed journals and presentations at scientific conference world-wide
  • To select and train suitable personnel from Partner Countries to ensure growth in the number of skilled VLBI station operators to support AVN activities
  • To develop and implement or modify software which supports radio telescope operations and data reduction at HartRAO radio telescopes with a view to expand the implementation to the African partners country VLBI Stations
  • To foster scientific collaborations world-wide in order to increase the research scope and publication rate of the African VLBI Network
  • Develop content and provide training as part of the AVN knowledge and skills transfer programme on an ongoing basis

The ideal candidate will have the following competencies:


  • work in geographically spread teams
  • program in C / Python / C-shell scripts
  • communicate effectively
  • work independently
  • travel nationally and internationally, as required for the project commissioning and roll-out
  • excellent verbal and written skills in English
  • maintain excellent internal and external stakeholder relationship


  • mentoring of young scientists and graduates
  • science data processing, especially VLBI data reduction
  • publishing in peer reviewed journals in physics or astronomy with a proven track record
  • radio telescope operations, preferably in an existing VLBI facility
  • Linux operation system
  • astronomy software development


  • NASA VLBI Field system
  • state-of-the-art VLBI and eVLBI equipment for hardware data capture including recording systems and techniques

As a business unit of the NRF, SKA SA is committed to employment equity and redress.

To Apply: email or Click here