Organisation NERC
Organisation Detail British Geological Survey
Reference Number IRC253277
Location Hailsham See on Map
Salary £30782 - £33459
Date Posted 21 May 2020
Grade UKRI-Band D
Contract Type Open Ended
Hours Full Time
Closing Date 24 June 2020
Interview Date

Brief Description

Salary: £30,782 to £33,459 (depending on qualifications and experience)
Grade: UKRI Band D
Contract Type: Open-Ended
Hours: Full Time
Closing Date: 24th June 2020
Interview Date: TBC in Herstmonceux, East Sussex


About us

The British Geological Survey (BGS) is an applied geoscience research centre that is housed in UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and affiliated to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). It is a world leading geological survey that provides a core science mission to inform government of science related to the subsurface and its interfaces and also undertakes applied research for solutions to earth and environmental processes, both in the UK and globally. It is funded directly by UKRI as well as through research grants and via private sector contracts.

BGS has an annual budget of approximately £60 million and employs 650 people. It has two main sites, a head office in Keyworth near Nottingham and the Lyell Centre, which is a joint collaboration with Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh.  BGS works with more than 150 private sector organisations as well as having close links with 40 universities and sponsors approximately 100 PhD students each year.

About the role

A vacancy has arisen in our Space Geodesy Team for a highly motivated and enthusiastic Research Scientist to be based at our geodetic observatory in Herstmonceux, East Sussex.

You will be working as part of a small multi-disciplinary team that operates the observatory and carries out research aimed at improving both the accuracy and applicability of its products to international efforts to understand the dynamic Earth. High quality techniques used on site include satellite tracking (laser ranging (SLR) and multi-GNSS) and absolute gravity. In particular its SLR system provides the international community with a wealth of world-leading, high quality (at mm-level of accuracy) range observations to a variety of geodetic, Earth-observing and GNSS satellites in support of many geophysical research areas, including sea level and ice sheet monitoring.

The role will include:

  • Leading the SGF research effort primarily focused on SLR data analysis for improvements in the International Terrestrial Reference Frame. The SGF is an International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS) Analysis Centre that has developed a competitive orbital/geodetic analysis package. You will gain an insight into the package as a starting point for further enhancement and research impact
  • Recent research undertaken within this role includes work on the identification and mitigation of systematic errors in the SLR technique and the determination of centre of mass corrections (CoM) for SLR geodetic satellites
  • An early research requirement to engage with priorities set by the ILRS Analysis Standing Committee for the computation of reference frame solutions, especially towards the laser ranging input to the next realisation of the Int Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF2020) expected within approximately 18 months
  • Applying your expertise to a wealth of additional software projects within the SGF’s expanding remit for optical and laser satellite tracking and corresponding data analysis
  • Developing and fostering closer research links with the BGS Geodesy and Earth Observation Group by undertaking working visits to the BGS headquarters in Keyworth in Nottingham
  • Establishing and maintaining collaborative research relationships with external partners in the commercial, defence and academic sectors of the space and geodetic communities, primarily to bring orbital dynamics expertise to these fora
  • Publishing journal research articles and presenting outputs to internal and external audiences ranging from general public to customer groups and at international conferences.

About you

You should have a PhD or equivalent qualification in a science/mathematical or ideally, a geodetic discipline. You should have demonstrable working knowledge in at least one scientific or engineering computing language (python, Perl and Fortran 90 are all used under Linux for SATAN). Being willing and able to keep abreast of developments in geodetic research techniques and theories will be an important part of being successful in this role as the international community strives for ever-improving accuracy.

Over many years, the SGF has built a competitive orbital and geodetic analysis package (SATAN) which is used primarily to compute geodetic reference frame solutions from the global yield of laser ranges to the geodetic satellites (LAGEOS, Etalon). This work at Herstmonceux, which has resulted in a number of recent peer-reviewed research publications, could be placed in jeopardy following both a retirement and a departure of key members of staff. The emphasis, therefore, of your role will be quickly to gain an understanding of this research package and ensure that the work continues and then grows with your input.  Initial support for this will be available from a number of sources.

Whilst being able to work on your own and show initiative, you must also be comfortable in a team and be a strong communicator, both verbally and in writing.

There will be a requirement for you to support on a rota basis the observatory’s clear-weather, 24-hour, 7-days a week observational commitment. This will include out of office hours, lone observing shifts for which additional remuneration is available. 

You must be able to travel to and work at the facility during out of office hours.


Organization Description

UK Research and Innovation is a new entity that brings together nine partners to create an independent organisation with a strong voice for research and innovation, and a vision to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation. More information can be found at

The British Geological Survey (BGS), founded in 1835 is part of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and is the world's longest-established national geological survey and the UKs premier centre for earth science information and expertise.

Criteria will be assessed at Shortlisting (S) Interview (I) or both (S&I).

Specific Skills Criteria


  • PhD or equivalent in a science, mathematical, geophysical or related discipline and/or equivalent work experience (S)
  • UK or international passport - role may include travel. (S)


  • Full UK driving licence to travel to remote areas of work. (S)



  • Relevant research and/or work experience, preferably in data analysis techniques and demonstrable evidence of a practical problem-solving ability (S&I)
  • Experience in processing SLR and/or GNSS observations (S&I)
  • Experience in effectively managing own time and workload including multiple simultaneous tasks and in working within a small mixed team of scientists and non-scientific staff. (S&I)


  • Experience in processing geodetic observations in order to monitor, for example, plate tectonic motion. (S&I)



  • Broad knowledge of Earth system science, ideally including geodynamics and geodesy (S&I)
  • Understanding of statistical and applied mathematical techniques to extract information from observations, often in the presence of noise. Recognition of need for mm-level accuracy in observations and products (S&I)
  • Demonstrable working knowledge in at least one scientific computing language e.g. Python, Fortran-90, C. (S&I)


  • Knowledge of Earth Science and related observations, role of reference frames, need for mm-accuracy (S&I)
  • Knowledge in the UNIX (Linux or Solaris) operating system, at user level. (S&I)

Skills and abilities


  • Prepared to learn a variety of technical skills immediately on appointment and continue to develop skills and knowledge in areas of numerical analysis/mathematics perhaps outside their specialism (I)
  • Good verbal, written and presentational skills and an ability to communicate science and geophysical problems and concepts to both specialists and non-specialists (S&I)
  • Understanding of mathematical and statistical concepts, including large-scale optimisation systems. (I)

Personal qualities


  • Must be willing to travel for conferences and workshops
  • Must be able to travel to and work alone at the facility for out-of-hours observing shifts (I)
  • Mobility to frequently use stairs to access areas of the site. (I)


  • Experience in formally or informally leading or managing others (S&I)
  • Experience in providing either formal or informal training to others. (S&I)


  • Demonstrates strong curiosity in extracting information from data and a drive to resolve problems (S&I)
  • Displays an enthusiasm for their science and a desire to develop this further (I)
  • Demonstrates an interest in their own Continuing Professional Development. (I)


  • Demonstrates an interest in the work of BGS, NERC and UKRI. (I)


Working hours will be 37 per week excluding lunch breaks. A generous benefits package is also offered, including a company pension scheme, 30 days annual leave plus 10.5 days public and privilege holidays. NERC has an equal opportunities policy and welcomes applications from all sections of the community. People with disabilities and those from ethnic minorities are currently under represented and their applications are particularly welcomed. Guaranteed interview scheme for applicants with disabilities. The British Geological Survey is an Investors in People organisation.

To enable us to hire the very best people we will conduct a full and comprehensive background and pre-employment check as an essential part of the recruitment process.

Only online applications will be accepted and should be submitted in the form of an up-to-date c.v. and covering letter (ensuring that the IRC reference is included in the file name description of each document uploaded), which clearly outlines why you are applying for this post and how you meet the criteria described in this advertisement. Please note that applications submitted without a covering letter, or which fail to address these points, may not be considered further.

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