Aurelie Hand, graduate trainee in Materials Environment Survivability for CubeSats and Nanosats
Aurelie is a materials engineer working in the Materials Physics and Chemistry Section. Her main responsibility is to guarantee the resilience of materials intended for space applications against the harsh conditions of outer space, including extreme temperatures, radiation and atomic oxygen erosion. To carry out these experiments, Aurelie utilises the unique facilities of the ESTEC laboratories, equipped with more than 20 dedicated experimental facilities and hundreds of instruments. Here, she can simulate the detrimental factors of the space environment, and assess how these affect materials for research projects that may fly on CubeSat missions.
Aurelie is also currently involved in an open lab testing campaign for novel and commercial-off-the-shelf CubeSat materials. This initiative allows universities and small companies across ESA Member States to assess their materials for space compatibility, bypassing costly and lengthy qualification processes. The results are publicly shared, benefiting the broader European CubeSat community.
The best part of her job? Aurelie said, “What I love most about my job is to realise experiments in ESA’s laboratories. We have very unique and complex facilities so even in my second YGT year I am learning every day! Our lab has a diverse team with people of different nationalities, ages and backgrounds, which provides a great learning experience. I feel lucky to work with actual space hardware, touching samples that have been in space or will fly one day.”
After completing her studies in material engineering in France, Aurelie stepped into the space sector through an internship at Spaceship EAC, where she focused on 3D printing of lunar regolith. “It was an amazing first experience. When I learned about the YGT position at ESTEC, I applied immediately, eager to continue my adventure at ESA.”