Updated: December 20, 2020

Education

2006 – 2008 Ph.D. In Atmospheric Sciences & Planetary Sciences Thesis work: The Effects of turbulence in an absorbing atmosphere on the propagation of microwave signals used in an active sounding system. Thesis advisor: Prof. E. Robert Kursinski University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA.

2004 – 2006 M.Sc. in Atmospheric Sciences Research: Physical modeling of the liquid water complex refractivity up to 1.5 THz. Research advisor: Prof. E. Robert Kursinski University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA.

1982 – 1989 Undergraduate education: Ingeniero Civil en Geografía Professional thesis: El Sistema de Posicionamiento Global (G.P.S.), primeras aplicaciones y resultados en Chile. Professional thesis advisor: Prof. Heiner Lange Universidad de Santiago de Chile, Santiago, Chile.

Work Experience

2020 – Present Atmosphere Scientist, European Southern Observatory (ESO), Santiago-Chile

In this role is investigating two key tasks:
1) Maximise the knowledge and understanding of current and forecast atmospheric conditions at ESO observatories including the future Extreme Large Telescope (ELT).
2) Ensure that this knowledge is used in the best possible way to optimize the scientific output of the Observatory.

The main duties are:
• Coordinate the activities of the astrometeorology group within the Paranal Science Operations department, which focuses on project development in the following areas:
o Use currently measured atmospheric parameters to optimize VLT observing efficiency
o Include new Astronomical Site Monitor (ASM) infrastructure to the site, in order to improve measurement accuracy of relevant parameters or include new parameters
o Forecast atmospheric conditions, including but not limited to parameters most relevant to ELT
o Ensure smooth operational implementation of new developments, with the goal to optimize the scientific output of the Observatory

• Chair the Astronomical Site Monitor (ASM) System Operations Team whose responsibilities are to:
o Ensure adequate description of the environmental conditions at Paranal (and later ELT) via the ASM
o Ensure adequate quality of the data provided by the ASM
o Ensure proper archival and database ingestion of the data provided by the ASM

2016 – 2020 Adaptive Optics/Laser Guide Star Systems Scientist, Thirty-Meter International Observatory (TIO), USA

Supports the efforts to establish a site atmospheric monitoring/prediction system for optimizing the future operations of the Thirty-Meter telescope science-programs queue scheduling. Responsible for the performance monitoring and optimization of the Narrow Field Infra-Red Adaptive Optics instrument and the Laser Guide Star system.

Have contributed to:

  • The comparative study of image quality and relative performance of TMT at the primary and alternate sites selected for the project (being these, Maunakea, HI (USA), and Observatorio Roque de los Muchachos (ORM), La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain).
  • Considering that TMT is a telescope designed to be highly optimized for observations in the near-infrared, including adaptive optics and assisted with Laser Guide Stars: I have conducted studies to better plan the Laser Traffic Control System (LTCS) for the operations of TMT at Maunakea as well as the ORM sites. In particular, to design an strategy for the operational compatibility of TMT in conjunction with telescopes of large field of view (such as the Cherenkov Telescope Array, CTA-North).
  • Have conducted studies to understand the effects of optical aberrations, in the beam transfer optics and laser launch telescope optics, in the angular size of the Laser Guide Star (LGS) spots.
  • Have planned and estimated costs for the design, implementation and commissioning of the Site Conditions Monitoring System (SCMS) for the TMT project. The SCMS main functions will be that of monitoring near-surface weather conditions as well as integrated and vertical turbulence in the atmosphere. This to support the future science observing program of TMT.
  • Participates in the planning for the development of algorithms intended to forecast weather as well relevant atmospheric parameters to support the future adaptive-queue scheduling of science observations at TMT.

2012 – 2016 Adaptive Optics Scientist Thirty-Meter International Observatory (TIO), USA Managed the work package set for the development of a laser prototype that could meet the TMT Laser Guide Star (LGS) performance requirements. In this capacity collaborated with a team of scientists and engineers at the Technical Institute for Physics and Chemistry (TIPC), Beijing, China. Additionally, in support of this task performed physical modeling of the interaction of laser light with sodium atoms in the Earth’s mesosphere, as well as planned and carried out laboratory and on-sky testing of the laser prototypes intended for verification of performance requirements. Results of modeling and testing got published in the peer-review technical journals. Developed physical modeling of the atmospheric radiance and atmospheric transparency in the near and mid infrared spectral bands.

2007 – 2012 Scientist Thirty-Meter International Observatory (TIO), USA Contributed, as a member of the TMT Site Testing team, to the testing of five candidate sites for the deployment of the Thirty Meter Telescope. The sites tested included: three in northern Chile, one in Baja California (Mexico) and one near the summit of the Mauna Kea volcano in the big island of Hawaii (USA). Represented the interest of the TMT Observatory Corporation before the government of Chile, and the Chilean astronomy community, to create the necessary conditions for the possible construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope in the Region of Antofagasta (Chile). Performed various studies in the areas of: Atmospheric water vapor, atmospheric turbulence, telescope dome turbulence. Results were published in various papers in technical journals.

2004 – 2008 Graduate Student at the Atmospheric Sciences Department, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA.

2001 – 2004 Test Engineer European Southern Observatory (ESO), based in Tucson, AZ, USA. As a member of the ALMA Antenna Evaluation Group (AEG), helped devise procedures and tests for the verification of the technical specifications of two ALMA prototype antennas (radio telescopes). The ALMA prototypes were designed and built to meet the technical standards and specifications needed for radio astronomy research at millimeter and sub-millimeter wavelengths spectral bands. The technical specifications covered the following aspects: quality of the primary reflector surface, pointing and tracking of the antenna at varying wind and thermal loads, mechanical path-length stability as a function of temperature, as well as the verification of the ability of the antenna panels to diffuse the visible, near and mid-infrared radiation as to allow solar observations while protecting the optical systems and the structures near the primary focus of the antenna.

1996 – 2001 Site Tester Engineer European Southern Observatory (ESO), Region of Antofagasta, Chile. Explored the Atacama Desert region to identify places suitable for the deployment of a large radio-astronomy interferometer intended to operate in the millimeter and sub-millimeter wavelengths spectral windows. Helped planning the logistics, business and contracts with providers for the development of the sites under study. Helped deploying and operating specialized instruments for the continuous monitoring of relevant atmospheric parameters at these sites. In particular, a relevant variable under study was the magnitude and variability of water vapor in the atmospheric column. Water vapor absorbs presents a permanent dipole and consequently exhibits strong rotational absorption lines in the millimeter and sub-millimeter part of the electromagnetic spectrum limiting this way the capabilities of a radio interferometer operating at these wavelengths. In the course of this assignment collaborated in the setup of instruments, operations as well as in the data analysis and publications of results with an international team of engineers and scientists from several scientific organizations, such as: European Southern Observatory, the Nobeyama Radio Observatory (Japan), National Radio Astronomy Observatory (USA), Princeton University/Pennsylvania State University (USA), California Institute of Technology (USA), Universidad de Chile, and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (USA). As result of this effort the Chajnantor Plateau, located on the west slope of the Andes Mountain, in the Region of Antofagasta Chile, was identified and selected for the deployment of ALMA. As part of this collaboration effort, also assisted with the logistics, assembly and setup of other telescopes at the Chajnantor area, some of these are: the Cosmic Background Imager (Caltech), the Mobile Anisotropy Telescope (MAT 1 & 2, Princeton/Pennsylvania), and the Small Radio Telescope (SRT, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics).

1991 – 1996 Radio Telescope Operator European Southern Observatory (ESO), La Silla Observatory, Chile While holding this position assisted the visiting astronomers in the operation of the Swedish-ESO Submillimetre Telescope (SEST). This included assistance with the setup of heterodyne receivers and bolometers operating at millimeter and sub-millimeter wavelengths. Coded additional capabilities into the online data reduction software for the quick analysis of single-dish radio astronomical data. Participated in the regular calibration and setup of all receivers. Also, designed and built an automated electronic system for the adjustment of the SEST antenna surface after holography measurements.

1989 – 1991 Consulting Engineer Terrasat S.A., Santiago, Chile Conducted geodetic survey to support mining claims. Design and programming of software for analysis of geodetic data. Specifically, programmed algorithms for the transformation of coordinates (datum, and for transformation between different data formats).

Professional Memberships

  • American Astronomical Society (AAS) / Division Planetary Sciences (DPS)
  • Sociedad Chilena de Astronomía (SOCHIAS)
  • American Geophysical Union (AGU)
  • American Meteorological Society (AMS)
  • The Optical Society of America (OSA)
  • Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE)

Community Engagement: Has served as referee for scientific journals:

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Radio Science
  • Research in Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Atmospheric Measurement Techniques
  • Journal of Infrared, Millimeter and Terahertz Waves
  • Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
  • Revista Mexicana de Astronomía y Astrofísica
  • Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics

Community Engagement: Additional tasks

  • Reviewer of proposals submitted to funding programs under the sponsorship of the Chilean Commission for Science and Technology (CONICYT) in the areas of: Atmospheric Sciences, Adaptive Optics, International Collaborations. 
  • Curator of the Site Testing Database in behalf of the international astronomy site testers community.

2011-2012 Member of a special commission, set by the Chilean Commission for Science and Technology (CONICYT), with the charge to develop a Roadmap for the Fostering of Technology Development and Innovation in the Field of Astronomy in Chile.

2010 Organizer and Co-Editor of the Conference “Site Testing Databases”, Valparaíso, Chile, 1-3 December 2010. This conference was co-sponsored by the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory and the European Southern Observatory. The Proceedings were published in the Revista Mexicana de Astronomía y Astrofísica Serie de Conferencias: Volumen 41, December 2011, Ed. Michel Curé, Angel Otarola, Julio Marin & Marc Sarazin. http://www.astroscu.unam.mx/rmaa/RMxAC..41/

2019 Co-Chair of the 13th Annual Workshop on Laser Technology and Systems for Adaptive Optics held in Québec City, Canada, 7-8 June 2019. The agenda, abstracts and presentations are found at: http://l4ao.lbto.org/

2019 Member of the SOCHIAS NameExoworld Committee, that helped gave popular name to the exoplaneta HD 164604b, and its host star HD 164604. HD 164604 is an orange, dwarf star of spectral tyoe K2V (apparent magnitude 9.7) and 0.8 Msun in the constellation of Sagittarius. HD 16460b was discovered, by the radial velocity method, using the Magellan II (Clay) telescope assisted with the MIKE spectrograph in a research involving the Chilean astronomer Pamela Arriagada. The committee helped coordinate a national campaign that resulted in given the following popular names to these objects: Pincoya (for the host star) and Caleuche (for the exoplanet). The names came from the mythology of the Southern Chile (Chiloe). This committee was formed, at SOCHIAS, answering to the call of the International Astronomical Union IAU100 NameExoWorlds initiative.

Member, since 2019, of the SOCHIAS Committee for the Preservation of the Photometric Quality of the Night Sky.