To celebrate World Space Week, we’re introducing you to a star cluster of our women who work in space.
This year’s World Space Week is celebrating Women in Space. We would like to introduce you to some of our amazing people who work in this field. They’re not astronauts – although a couple would love the opportunity! But their stellar careers are out-of-this-world. Our team is contributing to space in Australia, around the world and across the Solar System, in many different ways.
Barbara Peters – Link Operator
Barbara Peters has been talking to robots in space for 25 years. As a Link Operator at the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, she is one of a small team. This team is responsible for ensuring communication between Earth and the spacecraft NASA, and other international space agencies, have sent out to explore the Solar System. Barbara has supported space missions like the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn, and the Curiosity and Perseverance rovers on Mars.
Barbara was actually in the control room when Voyager 2 crossed into interstellar space in 2018.
“I’ve been asked many times if I have a favourite mission. They are all special to me,” Barbara said.
“These missions mean so much to the scientists and engineers who design, build and fly them. It’s just an honour to play my small part in their success.”
Amy Parker – Satellite operations and data manager
Amy has been working to establish our newest national research facility – NovaSAR-1. Amy and her team are building important capabilities for the future, particularly in the use of synthetic aperture radar. This is a special type of radar that can see through clouds and smoke – even at night. Our NovaSAR-1 facility is supporting Australian research and industry.
Amy is currently acting as Director of the CSIRO Centre for Earth Observation. Interestingly, her career began with a degree in geophysics and a PhD studying volcanoes.
“If you’d told me as a teenager, I’d be operating a satellite in the future I wouldn’t have believed you,” Amy said.
“I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do after school. But I chose subjects that interested me. And a degree program that opened lots of doors and included international study.”
Kimberley Clayfield – CSIRO Space leader
Dr Kimberley Clayfield has been fascinated with the vast unknown expanse of space since her childhood. She combines this sense of wonder with her award-winning expertise to lead our largest space program, CSIRO’s Space Technology Future Science Platform.
Kimberley’s space career has been broad. It has spanned national space policy development, Earth observation, space situational awareness, the international SKA project, and satellite technology development programs.
As a space leader, Kimberley is helping to build capability, identify and develop innovative space technologies and applications. And support the growth of Australia’s space industry.
“It is a really exciting time to be working in the space sector. Australia is really starting to gain momentum,” Kimberley said.
“I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of the projects we’ve been working on getting launched into space, literally!”
Ilana Feain – Commercialisation specialist
Dr Ilana Fein has been an astrophysicist, a medical physicist, and now a space entrepreneur. She combines her passions for science, technology and innovation every day.
As a commercialisation specialist, Ilana identifies research and technology that could provide solutions to challenges facing different industries. She was instrumental in the recent formation of a new Australian company, Quasar Satellite Technologies. This company is repurposing CSIRO technology to build ground stations capable of speaking to hundreds of satellites simultaneously.
“I am thrilled to have been part of the Quasar team to bring technology developed for radio astronomy to solve the looming congestion challenge facing satellite-based businesses. I’m really excited about what else is around the corner,” Illana said.
“There is so much more untapped ingenuity just waiting to come out of the lab and solve another major challenge.”
Suzy Jackson – Senior Engineer and Site Manager
Suzy Jackson applied her engineering expertise developing technologies for our Parkes, ATCA and ASKAP radio telescopes. She now manages the New Norcia deep space tracking station in Western Australia, on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA).
Suzy and her team look after the New Norcia 35 metre antenna, which spends its time communicating with ESA’s fleet of spacecraft throughout the solar system. Located on farmland, there’s a good number of local animals (kangaroos, emus and cows) to keep Suzy and her team company.
“It’s an exciting time. ESA is building a second 35 metre antenna at New Norcia, doubling the capabilities of the station and providing much-needed support for upcoming ESA missions,” Suzy said.
“These missions include Bepi-Columbo and Solar Orbiter, which are currently headed towards the inner solar system, and Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, scheduled for launch in 2022.”