A research engineer’s profile in AERIS – Sophie Cloché

What’s your background and your missions?

I began my career with a thesis in remote sensing on the estimation of atmospheric water vapour and the detection of clouds by satellite at LMCE in Ile de France (now LSCE).

Following my thesis and a postdoc in remote sensing, I decided to become an engineer. Meeting the needs of researchers, being in contact with different communities and working on more technical issues were all areas of interest that prompted me to change direction. So I worked on building databases for climate research for 5 years in various laboratories at the Institut Pierre Simon Laplace (IPSL) in the Paris region in 2001 as a research engineer. For several years, I worked on the development of databases, both for IPSL and for the wider community through major national and international programmes such as AMMA and Mistrals. Over the years, I have come to realise just how important it is to be as close as possible to the research teams in order to understand their needs, understand the way they work and be able to provide the most appropriate solutions – in short, to be at the heart of the research projects. With this in mind, in 2007 I was asked to join the mission group for the Franco-Indian Earth observation mission Megha-Tropiques. It was a real opportunity for me to be part of a scientific project and to be associated with a space mission in the making. The mission was launched in 2011 and it was a real human and technical adventure to be able to take part at close quarters in the preparatory work for a space mission. Initially, I was in charge of the databases used by the mission’s various research groups. Gradually my role was refined and I became the right-hand man to the mission’s PI (scientific manager) and then project manager.

All these experiences have enabled me to build up my expertise in space data processing on the one hand, and the management and exploitation of scientific data on the other, which has led me to take on the following responsibilities today:
1) Head of the ESPRI-OBS department at the IPSL, which employs around fifteen engineers (permanent and contract) and processes and manages Earth observation data. ESPRI-OBS is responsible for managing data from the IPSL Earth Observation Centre, while also playing a national role as one of the four data centres of the AERIS National Atmosphere Centre.

  1. Project manager for activities related to Earth observation space missions, which translates into my involvement in various areas (leading the IPSL space group, providing advice and expertise on the scientific ground segments of future space missions, involvement at European level in the development of satellite products, satellite data management and processing, etc.).

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