Development of the Ground Segment for LISA and the Spanish LISA Data Computer Centre


Within the framework of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan – Funded by the European Union – Next Generation (MICINN/PRTR funds) and by Generalitat de Catalunya 

Opening Date: 01/05/2023
Closing Date: Position open until filled


Job Description:

LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) is a space mission of the Cosmic Vision program of the European Space Agency (ESA), with an important participation of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA), whose main aim is to detect gravitational waves in the low-frequency band in the next decade.  In this way, with LISA we aim to develop a very ambitious scientific program, which will be complementary in many aspects to the one that is carried out by ground detectors like LIGO and Virgo (high-frequency band), and which we expect will have an enormous impact in Astrophysics, Cosmology, and Fundamental Physics. This revolutionary science program is based on the detection and analysis of gravitational waves emitted by five main classes of gravitational wave sources: (1) Coalescence and merger of (super)massive black hole (MBH) binaries; (2) The capture and subsequent inspiral of a stellar-mass compact object into a MBH, known as an Extreme-Mass-Ratio Inspiral (EMRI); (3) Ultracompact binaries in our galaxy, some of them are known an hence they are guaranteed sources that can be used to verify/calibrate the instrument (the so-called verification binaries); (4) Stellar-mass black hole binaries in the inspiral phase (that is, high-mass LIGO-Virgo sources with orbital periods around the hour); (5) Gravitational-wave stochastic backgrounds, both of astrophysical and early-Universe origin.
LISA data will arrive at some point at the Science Operations Centre (SOC), where under ESA responsibility, L1 data will be created (this includes applying some denoising techniques and time-delay interferometry, but no source identification). Then, L1 data will be sent to the different national Distributed Computing Centres (DCC), in particular to the Spanish one, where the L2 and L3 catalogs are produced, which include the identification of the different gravitational-wave sources and their physical parameters together with the corresponding error estimators.
The processing of L1 data to produce L2 and L3 data is a very challenging in terms of the design and performance of the data analysis algorithms. To that end, there is a lot of activity in the context of the LISA consortium to advance in this front, in particular through the LISA Data Challenges working group of the consortium, where different exercises to test the different algorithms are being carried out, and this will continue until the LISA launch.
In this context, the tasks expected to be carried out in this position are:
1) To participate in the design and development of the LISA Spanish DCC.
2) To work on the development of LISA Data Analysis algorithms, in particular in algorithms based on Machine Learning techniques.
3) To work on the design of a pipeline to obtain L2 data from L1 data (the so-called global fit algorithm).
The evaluation of the candidates will take into account the following aspects: (1) To have a degree and/or master in physics or engineering, and other studies. (2) To have experience in the area of Gravitational Wave Astronomy. (3) To have experience in data analysis, and in particular in methods based on Machine Learning techniques. (4) To have good programming skills.


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