Is more data science in the stars for NASA?

NASA is looking for a top-level data scientist to help it will all of the data the agency collects. (Pixabay)

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The federal government’s love affair with data could be going interstellar.

According to a job posting on USAJobs.gov, NASA is looking to hire someone to oversee the agency’s use of data. While the post does not explicitly say the position is for a chief data officer (the title is “information technology specialist”), the description details job assignments that will cover the agency’s entire data strategy.

The job description reads:

“This position will define and develop Agency-wide strategy for Big Data, and data mining/analytics solutions that can have significant positive impact on NASA missions. The incumbent will be expected to communicate their conclusions clearly to a wide audience and expertly collaborate with the NASA scientific and engineering community.”

It continues:

“Serves as the agency’s expert on oversight of national data management programs with precedent setting issues. Formulates long-range policies and develops and implements strategies and management guidelines for complex and changing information technology systems. Presents policy project status briefings and recommendations concerning long-range IT plans to top level of management. Presents briefings on IT policy initiatives and project status, standards developed and solutions to critical issues and recommendations concerning long-range IT plans to top levels of management and special interest groups.”

When asked if the position was for a chief data scientist, a NASA spokesperson said “absolutely not,” saying only that the person would work under the Office of the Chief Information Officer.

The job description does explicitly say it’s looking for data scientists, listing the title, in all caps, as a selective factor in the hiring process.

Those applying will need to have a firm basis in open source coding. The description calls for applicants to be well versed in Java, Python, Hadoop, and Apache’s Hive and Pig programming languages.

High-ranking data officers have grown extremely popular within the government, with a host of federal agencies either looking for or hiring chief data officers in the past few months. Last month, the White House named DJ Patil as the nation’s first federal chief data scientist.

NASA has long been a federal government leader in open data. Data.nasa.gov was launched shortly after President Barack Obama’s 2010 Open Government Initiative and uploads hundreds of terabytes to more than 500 data sets every day.

The agency has also turned to the public’s help with open data challenges, including ones launched within the past year dedicated to asteroid detection and processing climate data.

The position also comes with a nice six-figure salary, from $126,245 to $158,700 per year.

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Agencies, data analytics, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), open data, Tech
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