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The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)

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    Momentum Member Spotlight – November 2013

    AIAA Congratulates Dr. Luisella Giulicchi
    By Duane Hyland, AIAA Communications

    Dr Luisella Giulicchi The Member Spotlight sweeps across the seas this month, focusing on Dr. Luisella Giulicchi for the November column. Dr. Giulicchi is an AIAA Associate Fellow, and Director of AIAA’s Region VII, AIAA's international membership region. Giulicchi is currently responsible for the spacecraft system engineering of the European Union/European Space Agency (EU/ESA) Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission, based in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.

    Giulicchi has been a member of AIAA for over 12 years, and during that time she has held a variety of volunteer positions across the Institute. She has served as Deputy Director of Region VII from 2004 to 2013, and has been a member of the Institute’s Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GNC) Technical Committee (TC) since 2001, serving as the committee’s treasurer from 2009. She was the General Chair of AIAA’s GNC conference in 2010, and Technical Program Chair of the GNC conference in 2007. She has also served, over the years, as the GNC TC’s liaison to the International Activities Committee, the chair of the TC’s finance committee, and editor of the TC’s newsletter.

    In addition to her AIAA activities Giulicchi is a member of the Board of Directors of Women in Aerospace Europe, and is a member of the International Federation of Automatic Controls (IFAC), the Council of European Aerospace Societies (CEAS), the American Astronautical Society (AAS) and IEEE.

    Like many previous Spotlight subjects, Giulicchi’s interest in aerospace began as a child. “I think my interest for aerospace and science in general is more of a way of seeing things – in a scientific manner. This was a noted aspect of my character since I was a little child. I was curious and very skilled in scientific subjects. Math hours at school were fun for me.” She continued, “after high school, which had a strong scientific curriculum, I was drawn into studying engineering and then through an internship at the European Space Agency I fully appreciated this profession and its enormous achievements.”

    When asked about her favorite moment of her 20 year career in aerospace, Giulicchi said she had a lot of memories to sort through: “I have many memories belonging to my personal professional experience. My first assignment when I started working was the attitude and orbit control system of the ESA/NASA SOHO mission, a solar and heliospheric observatory. To see its success over its lifetime was exciting. It was also a very interesting to work on the first European Lunar mission, SMART-1, where I was the Technology Exploitation Manager. Working with Russian specialists from Roscosmos to design a Mercury lander was also inspiring.” She also discussed the future of aerospace, acknowledging the ever evolving state of our community: “I am sure many exciting moments are still to come. I am very much looking forward to the launch, at the beginning of 2014, of the Sentinel-1 mission, where I am working as spacecraft system engineer. Sentinel-1 is the first mission of the Copernicus program and it will provide all-weather, day and night radar images to be used for land and ocean services.”For college students thinking about making aerospace their life-long work, Giulicchi relayed four key “must dos” for the students: “1) Always challenge yourself to achieve the maximum results. 2) Build a solid theoretical and practical background. 3) Find yourself an internship in the aerospace industry or in the research institute most relevant to the field or professional area that you want to pursue. 4) Join a professional society like AIAA and engage actively in the organization: participating in their initiatives will provide an incredible source of inspiration and insights into the professional world, and a font of scientific and technical knowledge.”

    Giulicchi, like so many past Spotlight candidates, also took time to give some advice to her professional colleagues who might be trying to figure ways to keep relevant in the ever changing aerospace industry: “In times of change being successful requires the capability to evolve. Therefore I would see our profession as needing a more comprehensive view that draws from a number of interdisciplinary fields and system engineering approaches. In addition to the classic technical disciplines, such as propulsion, structure, attitude and orbit control etc., our profession should organize itself also in terms of system engineering and integrated applications like Earth Observation.”

    For high school students, contemplating a career in aerospace, she again had four keys to success: “1) Self-evaluate thoroughly your skills and capabilities; 2) Understand clearly that an aerospace degree requires a very demanding and totally time absorbing study path; 3) Select a university well recognized for their aerospace curriculum; 4) Cultivate your interest in whatever form is possible (reading, participating in student events related to aerospace, finding mentors in the field, etc.).”

    Giulicchi closed our interview by offering her thoughts on what the European Space Agency is likely to accomplish over the coming years: “In the coming years ESA, on behalf of its 20 member states, and in some cases in the frame of international co-operations, will deliver many cutting-edge missions and space technologies.

    The long history of successful science missions will continue in the next decade with programs that will cover three main areas: large-scale questions about the universe; planetary astronomy; and the study of planet Earth itself.

    A number of missions will be operational already in the coming years: Gaia (the star mapping surveyor), Bepi Colombo (mission to Mercury), Solar Orbiter (dedicated to the solar and heliospheric physics), Exomars (mission to Mars), Euclid (to study the dark matter), Aeolus (to improve knowledge on the Earth’s atmosphere and weather systems), Biomass (to measure forest biomass and terrestrial carbon stocks and fluxes), and more.

    Two very important European programs will be also deployed in the next years: Copernicus and Galileo.

    Copernicus is an initiative headed by the European Commission (EC) in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Environment Agency (EEA). Copernicus is the most ambitious Earth observation program to date. It will provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security. ESA is developing five families of Sentinel missions, the first spacecraft of which will be ready for launch in spring 2014: Sentinel-1.

    Galileo is Europe’s own global navigation satellite system and consists of 30 satellites (27 operational + 3 active spares), positioned in three circular Medium Earth Orbit. Galileo will provide a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control.

    AIAA congratulates Dr. Luisella Giulicchi for her many contributions to aerospace, her leadership within AIAA, and for her selection as the AIAA Member Spotlight for November 2013.