Washington International School, Washington D.C; College St Christophe, St Pierre et Miquelon; International School of Helsinki, Finland; Lycee International de St-Germain-en-Laye, Paris, France; University of Leicester, UK
Brevet, IGCSE, French Baccalaureate with International Option, Masters in Physics with Space Science and Technology
Airbus! (from way back when it was called Astrium)
Operations and FDIR Team Lead
Bit of a geek
I’m half French, but came back to the UK for university and have stayed since then. I’m married with 2 kids, the second is just 7 months old!
I’m a bit of a geek, I love reading (science fiction and fantasy), travelling, dressing up, musicals, going out, games, baking.
I design how to operate satellites and rovers, and what happens if there’s a problem.
There are 2 aspects to my current job: designing how the satellite/rover works normally and then designing what happens if things go wrong.
I’ve mainly worked on ExoMars Rover (EXM – we use a lot of acronyms, you get used to them!), which is the European Space Agency (ESA) mission whose aim is to search for life on Mars, and I’m now working on Sample Fetch Rover (SFR) which is supposed to go pick up the samples packaged up by Perseverance.
To design the operations, you need to know a bit about every subsystem on your satellite/rover and how they interact, and you need to think about what you want it to do (seems obvious, but it’s hard!). For example, the egress operations for EXM involve switching on the Rover, deploying wheels, setting up communications, releasing the umbilical, getting down the ramp. You need to be able to send the commands and receive data back which tells you how everything’s going, but you have a small bandwidth and hours of delay, so how do you plan things so it doesn’t take days?
To define what happens if something goes wrong I need to answer questions like: how do we know there’s a failure? How can we see it? How do we figure out what caused it? How severe is it? Can we reset the unit, switch it off, is it impacting the payload, do we need to stop everything and let Ground investigate?
My Typical Day: Currently I'm working from home, so that cuts out my commute! I don’t have repetitive days, which is great, there’s a lot of variety in the work I do. There’ll be meetings to discuss project progress, technical aspects etc. And then doing the actual technical work, which depends on the phase of the project.
Not many more details than that really! Projects are divided into phases. If I’m working on an early phase of a project then we’re looking at defining the requirements and early design work. ESA (is generally the customer on the projects I work on) will send us a requirement document for what they want the mission to be able to do, it’s quite top-level and we need to make those requirements more and more precise to define all the way down to unit level what we want. We also need to think about how we test things, because space is such a harsh environment, and getting there as well, we need to spend a lot of time testing to make sure we can meet the requirements.
If I’m working on a later phase of the project then we might be reviewing software, test reports, defining the user manual… Later on we’d be planning the launch phase and testing for that, and eventually supporting the launch! (I haven’t done that yet, it’s something I’d love to do)
What I'd do with the money
I don't have one yet
I have to admit, I haven’t thought of something yet! I mainly thought this would be something cool to take part in. I’d like to support girls in choosing STEM careers, but I don’t have a practical idea yet.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Physicist turned space engineer
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Umm, it's a fairly staid career!
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
Star Trek - I always wanted to be involved in space exploration!
What was your favourite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
No, I was too shy
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Hard to say, because there are so many things I’d love to be able to make a difference to, like the environment, maternity care, Brexit, so I'd say probably politics
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I can't pick! The CDs I currently have on repeat in the car are Hamilton and Moana.
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Parabungeeing. Citydash games in London.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Superpowers. More wishes so I could have lots of small wishes rather than trying to think of one big wish that will change the world.
Tell us a joke.
I know no jokes off the top of my head. Go look up XKCD.