Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

CIRES NCEI Magnetometer Space Physicist

CIRES NCEI Magnetometer Space Physicist

The Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder has an immediate opening for a Research Associate (Research Scientist) to support NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) in work related to the magnetometers on the GOES-R mission satellites. The position is initially for one year, with up to two additional years depending on performance and availability of funding. The Space Weather Team within NCEI is responsible for supporting NOAA’s space weather mission and for ensuring the operational and scientific utility of NOAA’s space environmental data. The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite Series-R (GOES-R) is NOAA’s next generation of geostationary weather satellites, which include a complement of space weather sensors to monitor the local space environment and the Sun. Two of the GOES-R satellites have been launched and are now called GOES-16 and GOES-17. The GOES-R Magnetometer (MAG) instruments, comprising two three-axis vector fluxgate magnetometers, continuously observes the magnetic field of Earth at geostationary orbit with 0.1-second time resolution.

At CIRES, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, more than 800 environmental scientists work to understand the dynamic Earth system, including people’s relationship with the planet. CIRES is a partnership of NOAA and the University of Colorado Boulder, and our areas of expertise include weather and climate, changes at the Earth’s poles, air quality and atmospheric chemistry, water resources, and solid Earth sciences. Our vision is to be instrumental in ensuring a sustainable future environment by advancing scientific and societal understanding of the Earth system.


The role of the Space Physicist is to support the NCEI MAG Team in all aspects of NCEI’s GOES-R satellite series MAG efforts. The Physicist shall split their time among scientific research, optimizing MAG data correction algorithms, and mission development. The time spent on each is dependent on need. On the algorithms, the Physicist will evaluate different correction methods in the literature, develop test code, extensively test the algorithms using GOES-R data, and select the best method to implement. Their scientific research will utilize GOES-R MAG data leading to published journal papers and presentations at scientific conferences that inform and educate the science community of the usability of the high-resolution 10 Hz MAG data. The physicist will also work with the MAG team to refine the MAG observational requirements at GEO and look for funding opportunities that further utilize the science data and allow studies of alternate science mission concepts that can provide complementary datasets to improve our knowledge of the magnetic field around GEO. As part of this effort, the physicist will work on development of our small satellite mission study, including helping develop the mission requirements document. The position is located within the Solar & Terrestrial Physics program of the NCEI Center for Coasts, Oceans, and Geophysics (CCOG) in the NOAA David Skaggs Research Center, 325 Broadway, Boulder, Colorado.

Duties Include:

  • Undertake scientific research that demonstrates the scientific utility of the GOES-R full 10 Hz magnetometer data. Possible area(s) of research include: understanding the generation, evolution and properties of Pc 1-5 ultra-low frequency (ULF) waves; understanding the role of ULF wave-particle interactions in ring current and/or outer radiation belt dynamics; development of a high-resolution (1-minute or higher) magnetic field model and application of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence algorithms to multi-GOES satellite observations. This research will be used to inform future development of operational products through research to operations (R2O) work. 
  • Inform and educate the science community of the usability of the high-resolution MAG data through publishing scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals and presenting science results and algorithm correction results at scientific and technical conferences/meetings.
  • Evaluate limits of the already developed GOES-16 MAG correction algorithms and determine the implications of these limits for the scientific utility of MAG data.  
  • If needed, develop, prototype and test improved correction algorithms and work with NCEI computer programmers to implement the improved correction algorithms into operations.
  • Define improvements and optimization changes to the higher-level algorithms that take into consideration data quality issues and scientific advances in literature.
  • Participate in and sometimes travel to relevant GOES-R meetings with NASA, NOAA and vendors, as required.
  • Travel to relevant GOES-R MAG instrument and spacecraft level tests, as required.
  • Work on studies of alternate science mission concepts that can provide complimentary datasets to improve the knowledge of the magnetic field at GEO. 
  • Work on the development of the SEMPRE small satellite mission proposal.
  • Write science proposals and look for funding opportunities, as required.


  • Ph.D. in Space Physics or similar scientific discipline. 
  • Excellent understanding of how magnetic fields in the space environment affect plasma environments and vice versa.
  • Excellent technical skills and experience handling science-grade magnetometer datasets with a strong understanding of how to handle magnetometer data issues such as data gaps, spikes, and other anomalies.
  • An understanding of external factors that affect magnetometer data quality.
  • Strong background in the use of higher-level computer languages, such as Python or IDL or Matlab, and willingness to quickly learn new languages.
  • Willingness to make occasional short-term trips to NASA-GSFC, NOAA-NSOF or vendor facilities for technical meetings and/or pre-and post-launch activities.
  • U. S. citizenship or permanent resident status.

What You Will Need

  • Ability to work cooperatively within a team environment.
  • Ability to defend scientific and operational requirements forcefully. 
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.

What We Would Like You to Have

  • 3 years postdoctoral experience in space physics with a good publication record.
  • Research background in an inner magnetospheric physics area such as ULF/VLF waves, plasmasphere, ring current, or radiation belts.
  • Extensive experience in time-series analysis, including spectral domain analysis, of space science grade magnetometer data.
  • Excellent knowledge of current systems and/or plasma waves that produce variability in in the geomagnetic field (e.g., effects on magnetic field due to ring current, ULF waves, field-aligned currents).
  • Understanding of geomagnetic field models.
  • Experience analyzing space-based particle data.
  • Understanding of spacecraft magnetic cleanliness issues as pertaining to spacecraft accommodation for science magnetometers.
  • Understanding of satellite orbit determination and coordinate transformation.
  • Experience working on science spacecraft mission development including Pre- and Post-launch spacecraft science instrument tests.
  • Understanding of NASA spacecraft mission phases.
  • Previous experience with advanced statistical methods such as machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms. 

For further information, please contact Dr. Paul Loto’aniu (


The University of Colorado offers excellent benefits, including medical, dental, retirement, paid time off, tuition benefit and ECO Pass. The University of Colorado Boulder is one of the largest employers in Boulder County and offers an inspiring higher education environment. Learn more about the University of Colorado Boulder.

Application Materials

To apply, please submit the following materials:

  • Resume/CV
  • Cover Letter
  • Contact information for 3 references

Screening will begin immediately, and applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

Job Number


Date Posted

Tuesday, September 4, 2018


Research Associate