Pipeline Operator
Pasadena, CA 
Posted 1 day ago
Job Description

Caltech is a world-renowned science and engineering institute that marshals some of the world's brightest minds and most innovative tools to address fundamental scientific questions. We thrive on finding and cultivating talented people who are passionate about what they do. Join us and be a part of the diverse Caltech community.

Job Summary

IPAC at Caltech is looking for a pipeline operator to support operations of a survey telescope. As a part of the Physics, Math, and Astronomy Division at Caltech, IPAC () provides science operations, user support, data and archive services, and scientific vision to maximize discovery with observatories both in space and on the ground. We are partners with NASA, NSF, JPL, and the international research community to advance exploration of our Universe. Over our three-decade history, we have provided a range of support for more than 20 astronomy missions, helping each to bring forth major advances in astrophysics and cosmology. As a member of our data system team, you will enable scientists to explore the mysteries of supernovae and black holes, discover new comets, and detect the next potentially hazardous asteroid.

Where You Fit In

As a Pipeline Operator, you will be a member of the IPAC Science Data System team for the Zwicky Transient Facility (). We operate a computing cluster and automated real-time pipelines that process images of the night sky taken with a 640 megapixel camera on a telescope at Palomar Observatory. Our system provides alerts to astronomers for supernovae, variable stars, asteroids and other phenomena, within several minutes after each exposure. The Pipeline Operator ensures the automated system is running as expected and carries out maintenance activities, working with the scientists and engineers on the Science Data System team.

Regular tasks:

  • Manage the operation of automated processes including aliveness checks, suspending and restarting.
  • Monitor storage volumes and free up space by running scripts.
  • Check the morning summary of the previous night's processing, and rerun any failed exposures.
  • Ensure the data system is ready to receive data for the upcoming night.
  • Develop and maintain scripts to assist with the above activities.
  • Review Slack channels and system monitoring websites on a regular basis.
  • Communicate regularly with the rest of the Science Data System team.

We work a regular work week; however, you will sometimes need to support off-hours activities. We encourage continuing career education, and this position offers occasional opportunities to attend industry conferences and related training.

Basic Qualifications

  • Bachelor's degree or equivalent experience in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Astronomy, Physics, Math or a related technical field.
  • At least 2 years of experience with Linux/Unix operating systems including writing shell scripts.
  • Experience with SQL queries.
  • Good written and interpersonal communication skills, with an emphasis on the ability to share ideas in a collaborative setting.

Preferred Qualifications

Beyond these basic qualifications, there are a set of skills and experiences which will add to your ability to contribute to the roles and responsibilities of an IPAC pipeline operator. The following might give you a head start here, but even if these do not describe you or your experience, we would still like to hear from you:

  • Have you done scripting in Perl or the Bash shell?
  • Do you have experience with SQL queries in general, and with Postgres in particular?
  • Familiarity with Zoom, Slack, Jira, Github or Confluence will enable you to jump in quickly.
  • Experience with submitting batch jobs to a computing cluster would be a plus.

Required Documents

  • Resume
  • Cover Letter

Life at IPAC

IPAC is located on the campus of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California by the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Caltech is small, but has an extraordinary science impact, with 41 Nobel Prizes awarded to faculty and alumni. Caltech manages the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA, the leading US center for the robotic exploration of the Solar System. Caltech also operates large-scale research facilities such as the Palomar and Keck Observatories, and LIGO, which in 2016 observed gravitational waves from colliding black holes for the first time.

Pasadena is a city known for its contributions to science and technology, and its rich history, cultural treasures, scenic beauty, and year-round comfortable weather create a desirable environment for life and ideas to thrive. See .

People choose to work at IPAC for many reasons, and the casual, employee-centric culture often leads to fulfilling, long-term careers and lasting relationships. Caltech offers a quality, competitive benefits package that is affordable for you and the Institute. The program provides a strong base of coverage for you and your dependents, and the ability to choose the plan and the level of coverage that best meet your needs. We also offer a 403(b) defined contribution plan to eligible staff as well as a Voluntary Retirement Savings (TDA) Plan. IPAC staff have access to the Institute's facilities, including the athletic center, libraries, on-site daycare, professional development and enrichment classes, and Athenaeum club membership.

COVID-19 Vaccine Required for All Employees

Caltech has implemented a mandatory vaccination policy effective October 15, 2021, requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees (with Institute-approved exemptions for religious or medical contraindications only). At present, an individual is deemed "fully vaccinated" when that person has received, at least 14 days prior, either the second dose in a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series (e.g., Pfizer or Moderna) or a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine (e.g., Johnson & Johnson). As a condition of employment, employees must submit official COVID-19 vaccine documentation. More information may be found .

EEO Statement

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Caltech is a VEVRAA Federal Contractor.

To read more Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) go to eeoc_self_print_poster.pdf.

Disability Accommodations

If you would like to request an accommodation in completing this application, interviewing, or otherwise participating in the employee selection process, please direct your inquiries to Caltech Recruiting at .

Caltech is an equal employment opportunity and affirmative action employer and will, whenever possible, actively recruit and include for employment members of underrepresented minority groups, females, disabled veterans, protected veterans, and otherwise qualified persons with disabilities. Caltech will hire, transfer, and promote based on the qualifications of the individual to ensure equal consideration and fair treatment of all.


Job Summary
Start Date
As soon as possible
Employment Term and Type
Regular, Full Time
Required Education
Bachelor's Degree
Required Experience
2+ years
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