Job Description

The NASA Ames Research Center (ARC) SunSat group supports a variety of instruments (e.g. see that perform optical measurements of tropospheric aerosols and trace gasses when installed in NASA research aircraft [1]. The ARC SunSat team is funded to maintain existing instruments (2STAR, 3STAR, 4STAR) and develop the next generation instrument (5STAR). This set of instruments (collectively termed nSTAR) depends on precision radiometer and spectrometer detectors and include a variety of transmissive, diffractive, and diffusive optical elements, including fiber optic light path technology. Robotics technology is required for sun tracking and sky scanning functionality both on the ground and in flight. During flight missions the detector head is exposed to the free stream environmental conditions up into the stratosphere.

An instrumentation engineer is required to support the development of the nSTAR instruments and various supporting instrument apparatus. Upper-division majors pursuing degrees in electrical and mechanical engineering and recent graduates that are US Citizens are encouraged to apply for this contractor position. Specific skills include the ability to create, read and interpret engineering design drawings and to create the wiring and electronic printed circuit board components, to NASA aircraft airworthiness standards. Additionally, field engineering expertise is required to support existing instruments that are deployed in a series of flight experiments through 2018. If not experienced, willingness to learn and adhere to NASA aircraft airworthiness, assembly, ESD, field operations, QA, safety and other standards are required.

Job Responsibilities

The engineer will work with the SunSat staff on design concepts and will be responsible for developing mechanical and electrical design documents. Critical design products include drawings, Gerber/drill files, BOM spreadsheet, STEP files, assembly instructions, etc., suitable for procuring components and commercial fabrication services. Additionally, the engineer will support hands-on fabrication of wiring harness and printed circuit board components using electronics fabrication tools at ARC, and through commercial vendors.

Job Qualifications

Specific skills include:


A. CAD: SolidWorks (mechanical design and stress analysis for 5STAR design and


B. Schematic capture and printed circuit board design using EAGLE or similar software.

C. Directed support of development of precision radiometer photodiode detector-based

instrumentation including wide dynamic range amplifier circuits and data acquisition.

D. Use of benchtop electronics equipment for debugging, validation, and testing.


E. CAM: MasterCam (assist with nSTAR fabrication in building N245).

F. LabView (assist with nSTAR ADC and data acquisition programming).

G. LabView (assist with nSTAR motion control for instrument pointing and tracking).

H. MatLab (assist with stress analysis and airworthiness substantiation for nSTAR instruments).

I. Thermal Design (assist with 5STAR thermal design, re-design of 4STAR spectrometer enclosure).


Work may be done independently as the individual's schedule permits. Off-hours might actually be preferred for CAD license availability. This position need not be exclusive of other employment or educational commitments. A desk at the NASA ARC (Mountain View, CA) in building N245 will be provided. A short meeting will be scheduled every week to discuss design concepts, evaluate approach, and assess progress. Project schedules are expected to require approximately 10 hours per week beginning in October 1, 2018 and extending through September 30, 2019. More intensive work schedules up to 28 hours per week during school breaks would be desirable.

Government furnished equipment:

NASA will authorize contractor purchase of an appropriate laptop with VPN and client software to access custom software licenses through building N245 license servers.

Performance Standards:

Milestones of accomplishment will include design reviews at intermediate and final stages. The engineer will coordinate fabrication of mechanical parts and wiring harness components. The primary success metric will be the successful fabrication of the required hardware.