Optical Engineer III

Job Details

Job ID: 10930

New ideas are all around us, but only a few will change the world. That’s our focus at JPL. We ask the biggest questions, then search the universe for answers—literally. We build upon ideas that have guided generations, then share our discoveries to inspire generations to come. Your mission—your opportunity—is to seek out the answers that bring us one step closer. If you’re driven to discover, create, and inspire something that lasts a lifetime and beyond, you’re ready for JPL.


Located in Pasadena, California, JPL has a campus-like environment situated on 177 acres in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and offers a work environment unlike any other: we inspire passion, foster innovation, build collaboration, and reward excellence.



The Tracking Systems and Application Section (335) provides world-leading capability and expertise in a wide range of technologies that are critical to spacecraft tracking and related applications. The Section supports NASA's deep-space missions by providing to the JPL navigators unique and extremely precise radiometric sources and data types. The 335E Frequency and Timing Advanced Instrument Development Group provides the Deep Space Network (DSN) with precision atomic frequency and time references and distribution systems and operates state of the art microwave and optical metrology references and test capabilities in the Frequency Standards Test Laboratory.


We invite you to join the Tracking Systems and Application Section within the Frequency and Timing Advanced Instrument Development Group (335E) to serve as a Optical Engineer Level 3. You will be reporting administratively to the Group Supervisor of the Frequency and Timing Advanced Instrument Development Group.


We seek a self–motivated individual that can work both independently and within a team environment in support of JPL’s frequency and timing needs and the Deep Space Network (DSN) Frequency and Timing Subsystem (FTS) operation. The FTS is a high-performance metrology entity that is essential for all DSN communication, navigation, and radio science activities.  You will be developing, improving, and supporting state of the art low-noise microwave, optical, and RF photonic oscillators, photonic frequency distribution systems, as well as develop and provide low noise frequency references and measurement technologies in support of the JPL Frequency Standards Test Laboratory (FSTL).  


 Tasks Include

  • Develop both Optical and RF Photonic Local Oscillators using the groups recently acquired femtosecond comb and stabilized laser capabilities.
  • Provide microwave and optical reference capabilities to the Frequency Standards Test Laboratory.
  • Work on frequency and timing instrument development, implementation, test, calibration and validation activities across multiple FTS components/systems, including atomic frequency standards, clocks, frequency and timing distribution links, and frequency stability and environmental sensitivity characterization activities.
  • Interact with JPL mission formulation activity regarding implementation of the above technologies.


  • Bachelor degree in Engineering, Physics, Math, or related technical discipline with typically a minimum of 7 years of related experience; or a Master’s degree in similar disciplines with a minimum of 5 years of related experience, or PhD in similar disciplines with a minimum of 3 years related experience.
  • Strong interest in pursuing a career working with frequency standard and clock systems, photonic oscillators and frequency distribution links, and frequency and timing calibration and stability measurements.
  • Wide-ranging hands-on experience and advanced knowledge in the following areas: low noise microwave oscillators, cavity stabilized lasers, microwave and optical frequency reference generation, state of the art measurement techniques.
  • Subject expertise in two or more disciplines (cavities, lasers, integrated photonics, microwave photonics, cryogenics, electronics, test and measurement).
  • Extensive understanding of fundamental principles, theories and concepts with applications in solving frequency reference and measurement problems.
  • Demonstrated individual problem-solving and prioritization ability.
  • Committed team player with demonstrated ability to communicate effectively.

Preferred Skills:

  • Motivated to learn and work effectively on multiple, diverse projects and gain expertise across frequency and timing technology, engineering, and systems.
  • Broad hands-on experimental engineering/physics experience.
  • RF/photonic circuit design and instrument test experience.
  • Familiarity of continuously operating frequency oscillators and standards, clocks and timing systems, signal distribution methodologies, instrument test and measurement methodologies, and applications.
  • Familiarity with basic instrument programming languages, including Labview and Matlab.
  • Experience in preparation and delivery of reports to the customers.

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