Innovating to push back the limits of our experience

Meet Ben! Ben has been passionate for astronomy since his childhood and has been working on the JUICE mission for the past 9 years. Amongst others, he is a member of several associations including a team that observes the Sun in Pic du Midi observatory - and he does not only like to look up high but also wants to be as close as possible to the sky, he has climbed more than 20 peaks over 3000m high in the Pyrénées.


Following his training as an engineer in electronics and digital technologies, a master's degree in image processing and another in astrophysics and space techniques, Benjamin began his career as an image processing analyst engineer. As the person most recently responsible for developing on-board image processing algorithms, Benjamin then had the opportunity to work on one of ESA's major programmes, Gaia, whose mission is to make a census of nearly two billion stars in the Milky Way. 

His passion for astronomy then led him to work for the JUICE mission since 2014. "Coordinating scientists from all over the world, the instrument architects and the satellite architects is exciting. It requires overseeing several disciplines simultaneously and a lot of flexibility to meet the client's needs."

Thanks to JUICE, Benjamin took part in the complete development of a scientific satellite and was able to expand his skills after working in the field of image processing. On a personal level, this mission has whetted his appetite for space exploration. 

It's a great opportunity to be able to work on such a mission in your professional life and to try to provide some answers to a fundamental question: are we alone in the universe?

Do you remember when you were first fascinated by aerospace?

It all began when I was just six years old, standing in my school playground, gazing up at the sky and pondering why the Moon seemed to float so effortlessly. From that very moment, my curiosity ignited, and it was as if a cascade of questions flowed, each answer leading to yet more questions.

Intrigued by this fascination, I took my observations to the night sky, starting with my bare eyes, then progressing to a small refractor, and eventually, a telescope. As I delved into the history of science, I came to realize the profound value of increasingly precise and efficient observations. Many times, these observations challenged what we had taken for granted. Recognizing the limitations of the human bare eye, I understood that expanding our observational range through dedicated instruments was the only way to progress.

After pursuing a path in science and gaining valuable experience through internships in observatories, I made the conscious choice to dedicate my career to serving the scientific community by contributing to providing them with the most advanced tools to explore the universe.

And what drove you to join Airbus at the beginning of your career? 

My primary motivation for joining Airbus was rooted in my profound passion for space exploration. I've always sought a balance between my personal and professional life, and Airbus offered me a unique opportunity to merge my passion with my career.

My journey to Airbus was paved with significant milestones. During the early 2000s, I embarked on an internship at the Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, where I spent six transformative months working on the Gaia mission, a major undertaking by the European Space Agency (ESA) aimed at cataloging nearly two billion stars in our galaxy.

In the coming year I completed another internship at Airbus, where I made friends with like-minded colleagues who shared my passion for astronomy. Fate seemed to play a part when Airbus secured the Gaia project, and my friends were sequentially enlisted to join the team responsible for designing the spacecraft. 

Meanwhile, I was busy working as a project manager in Toulouse, overseeing the development of a key component for the Gaia data processing framework. Then, after an exhilarating climbing session, one of my friends extended a golden opportunity to join Airbus's team, dedicated to the continued development of Gaia's onboard image processing. This was my chance to make a dream come true by joining one of the world's premier companies involved in crafting remarkable instruments for space exploration.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The most gratifying aspect of my job is being part of a team that empowers scientists to deepen our understanding of the universe. It gives my life a profound purpose.

For instance, the Gaia mission. Long before its launch, the scientists I collaborated with prophesied that its success would mark a turning point in astrophysics. A decade after its launch, the mission has exceeded expectations, and astrophysicists are on the brink of rewriting our cosmic history, all while the satellite continues its mission. We are unraveling the formation of our Milky Way and the cosmic events that led to the birth of our Sun. This is just one example, among many, of how the Gaia mission is reshaping our understanding of the universe.

Another compelling project is Juice, launched a few months ago. It's like a complete laboratory, with around ten instruments orbiting Jupiter and its icy moons, providing fresh insights into the characterization of habitable worlds.

All remarkable achievements are the result of the collective efforts of hundreds of individuals working together, uniting from all corners of the globe to reach a common goal. This shared journey fills my days with joy, even during the challenging moments.

Can you share a memorable experience at Airbus?

One of many that stands out is the shared launch campaign of Juice with my colleagues in Kourou. It was a moment of sheer sensation, as both scientific teams I had supported for eight years converged around the satellite for final verifications just before the launch.

The countdown to liftoff was a time of reflection, a reminder of the thousands of hours dedicated by all of us to create and test this remarkable spacecraft, across various countries. Witnessing the launcher carrying this concentrated piece of technology into the cosmos was an emotional experience that reinforced my sense of belonging to a global community.

Can you share some benefits of working at Airbus? 

First and foremost, our work benefits society as a whole. We contribute to enriching our understanding of the universe, including our own home, Earth. What our grandchildren learn in school will be profoundly different from our own education. The data we collect on Earth, as well as from the far reaches of space, helps us enhance our relationship with our environment, ultimately leading to improvements in our way of life.

Our work drives the development of new technologies and innovative methods that can have far-reaching impacts across various domains. Additionally, we have the privilege of sharing captivating images and videos that ignite our collective imagination and inspire contemplation.

Also, Airbus offers a wealth of opportunities for personal and professional growth. It allows us to find meaning in our work, refine our skills, collaborate with exceptional colleagues, and refine our working methods and behaviors.

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