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Senior Backend Web Developer





Senior Backend Web Developer

Job Details


About Us:

The Vera C Rubin Observatory is an 8-meter telescope being built in Chile and operated out of the Tucson, Arizona headquarters.  The observatory is undertaking the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) which promises to be one of the largest and most comprehensive astronomy surveys of its kind.  The Education and Public Outreach team is a small, interdisciplinary group of astronomers, writers, designers, and developers building data visualizations and astronomy resources for students and the general public. Our goal is to make LSST data, astronomy, and science interesting and accessible to a broad audience.

As the lead Backend Developer on our team, you primarily responsibility will be:

  • Developing the EPO Data Center -- a backend infrastructure to serve as the interface between the LSST Science Platform and our public facing web products
  • Maintain and improve existing hosting solutions for our web products
  • Help scale our services to a large international user-base

You will also have the opportunity to contribute to:

  • New features and bug fixes for our CMS driven sites
  • Vera C Rubin Observatory’s long-term public outreach priorities
  • Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment strategies
  • Test coverage


Vera C Rubin Observatory’s Science Platform is optimized for organizing and supplying vast amounts of survey data to Astronomers and other scientists, thus facilitating new and exciting discoveries.  As a part of the EPO team, you will be responsible for interfacing with the Science Platform and curating and translating the data for use in our visualizations, educational tools, and other public-facing web products.  A strong candidate will embrace such an awesome technical challenge, enjoy collaborating with technical and non-technical professionals across teams, and be a strong advocate for, and decision-maker of  EPO’s data requirements.

About you: 

A strong candidate will bring initiative and ownership to the development of our products.  You will collaborate on improving our backend architecture, participate in regular code reviews, and will be invited to have a strong voice in all matters related to our codebase. You will work closely with every member of the Education and Public Outreach team, but you will work most directly with two other developers and a data-scientist.  Here are some qualities that could make a great candidate:

  • At least 3 years of experience as a web developer with a focus on the backend (Agile work experience is a plus)
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently, manage your own project, and communicate progress to technical and non-technical stakeholders
  • Familiar with TDD
  • Experience designing, analyzing, optimizing code and troubleshooting large-scale distributed systems
  • Hands-on DevOps experience with cloud infrastructure, CI/CD and web hosting
  • Experience with Postgres
  • Experience with Redis
  • Experience with Google Cloud or equivalent
  • Experience developing with CMS (Craft 3 or other headless CMS a plus)
  • Familiarity with Python and an interest in learning more
  • Basic understanding of frontend technologies, including React, Webpack, and GraphQL
  • Interest in science, astronomy, and online education

Don’t stress the details. Above all we are looking for someone enthusiastic with a desire to learn and experiment in a highly supportive and collaborative environment. 

The position is expected to last through construction (concluding late 2023) with the opportunity for extension. Our preference is for this position to be based in Tucson for at least the first year but there is the possibility of remote working arrangements. This position is full-time but there is the opportunity for flexible hours or a modified work schedule.

Submission materials: Please include a CV or resume, a cover letter (pdf files preferred), and a link to your portfolio or GitHub. Also, please list 3 professional references who will only be contacted during the late stages of the interview process.

****Rubin Observatory has all staff working remotely during COVID-19 crisis. The safety of our staff and community is our top priority. We will continue to interview and screen candidates in this new virtual landscape. Offers of employment can be extended and new hires can on-board virtually and arrangements may be made for remote work. Relocation benefits will be available to those eligible when travel can be supported****

This position will remain open until filled, we anticipate beginning our review of candidates in mid to late July, for full consideration, please submit your application by July 24, 2020.

Preference granted to qualified Native Americans living on or near the Tohono O'odham reservation.  

Veterans, disabled individuals or wounded warriors needing assistance with the employment process should request assistance at employment@aura-astronomy.org

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), is a consortium of over 40 US institutions and three international affiliates that operates world-class astronomical observatories. AURA’s role is to establish, nurture, and promote public observatories and facilities that advance innovative astronomical research. AURA is responsible for managing the operations of the NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory, the National Solar Observatory, and the construction of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory and the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope under cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation and operations of the Space Telescope Science Institute under contracts with NASA.  

AURA, as a leader in the astronomical community, is committed to diversity and inclusion. AURA develops and supports programs that advance our organizational commitment to diversity, broaden participation, and encourage the advancement of diversity throughout the astronomical scientific workforce. Learn more at http://www.aura-astronomy.org/diversity.asp.   

As a recipient of U.S. Government funding, AURA is considered a government contractor and is subject to Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action regulations. As an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, AURA does not discriminate based on race, sex, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity/gender identity expression, lawful political affiliations, veteran status, disability, and/or any other legally protected status under applicable federal, state, and local equal opportunity laws. The statements below as well as the requests for self-identification are required pursuant to these regulations. We encourage your participation in meeting these federal reporting requirements which are included for protection and to assist us in our record keeping and reporting. Your responses are kept strictly confidential.   

Equal Opportunity Employer/Protected Veterans/Individuals with Disabilities

The contractor will not discharge or in any other manner discriminate against employees or applicants because they have inquired about, discussed, or disclosed their own pay or the pay of another employee or applicant. However, employees who have access to the compensation information of other employees or applicants as a part of their essential job functions cannot disclose the pay of other employees or applicants to individuals who do not otherwise have access to compensation information, unless the disclosure is (a) in response to a formal complaint or charge, (b) in furtherance of an investigation, proceeding, hearing, or action, including an investigation conducted by the employer, or (c) consistent with the contractor’s legal duty to furnish information. 41 CFR 60-1.35(c)

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