Global site tag (gtag.js) - Google Analytics
The universe awaits

Senior Adaptive Optics Scientist

Wavefront Sensing and Control
  • Full-Time
  • Science
Pasadena, CA
Temporary remote work due to COVID-19
Position code


The Giant Magellan Telescope is the most powerful ground-based telescope ever engineered. It was designed to push the boundaries of human knowledge and discover the unknown. With unmatched image quality, seven of the world’s largest mirrors will launch our view into the universe to uncover the cosmic mysteries of dark matter, investigate the origins of chemical elements, and search for signs of life on distant exoplanets for the first time.

The 30-meter class telescope is under construction at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile’s Atacama Desert, one of the best locations on Earth to view the heavens. From this unrivaled vantage into the southern sky, the Giant Magellan Telescope will produce the sharpest and most detailed images ever taken of our universe.

When complete in the late 2020s, the Giant Magellan Telescope will be the largest public-private funded science project in history. The endeavor was founded by an international consortium of leading universities and research institutions representing five countries, and is managed by the GMTO Corporation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Pasadena, California. Our culture is impactful, inclusive, and fearlessly innovative. We solve the most difficult engineering challenges and scientific questions with talented individuals who share a passion for revolutionizing humanity’s knowledge of the universe.

We invite you to join our team and leave your mark on astronomy’s future and beyond.

The Universe Awaits.


Wavefront Sensing and Control


Wavefront Sensing and Control Manager


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 (WFSC) 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.


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • Medical insurance
  • Vision insurance
  • 401(k)
  • Dental insurance
  • Disability insurance


GMTO has implemented a mandatory vaccination policy effective March 14, 2022, requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees (with GMTO-approved exemptions for religious or medical reasons only). At present, an individual is deemed “fully vaccinated” for Covid-19 two weeks after they have received the second dose in a two-dose series, or two weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine. GMTO management may revise the definition of Fully Vaccinated in this Policy based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force or other relevant Government or Health agencies. Any changes will be communicated to all employees before its effective date.

As a condition of employment, employees must submit official COVID-19 vaccine documentation.


$180,000- $220,000

The salary for this role will be set based on a variety of factors, including but not limited to, internal equity, experience, education, and training.


To apply send your resume or CV and a cover letter to

If your skills and experience are a match for the position or if we need additional information, 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.

We are an equal opportunity employer. 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.


Similar Positions

Project Manager
  • Engineering
  • Full-Time
Chief Engineer
  • Engineering
  • Full-Time
Engineering Risk Management Lead
  • Engineering
  • Full-Time
Quality Assurance Manager
  • Engineering
  • Full-Time

This Website Uses Cookies

We use cookies that are essential for our site to function. We do not collect personal identifiable information. By using our site, you agree to our Privacy Policy.