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Careers in space science and engineering by STFC watch

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    Got a question about how you can start your career in space science and engineering? Our experts are here to help.

    Rain leads the Autonomous Systems Group at RAL Space and also works part-time for the STFC Business and Innovations Directorate. She specialises in leading and overseeing projects related to all aspects of Robotics for Space and on Earth.

    Previously Rain has worked as a Space Scientist and Systems Engineer, developing instruments for space exploration and for Earth observation. She was a Planetary Protection Officer for the NASA Insight mission, responsible for ensuring there was no contamination of the UK hardware sent to Mars.

    Please be aware all answers will be posted on Monday 12 February.
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    What qualifications and skills are needed?
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    what degree would i need to get a career in space? i wonder.
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    Is astrophysics rocket science? I've applied to do astrophysics at Uni and was just wondering if I'd be able to make jokes to people about how I'm doing rocket science.
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    (Original post by yogya)
    What qualifications and skills are needed?
    To work in Space Science, there are a number of different routes depending on what you want to specialise in. I did a degree in Physics, a Master's in Instrumentation Systems and a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. This led to work in a University research department on Space Instruments.

    If you want to build Space Instruments, a degree in Physics, Engineering or Space Systems Engineering is a good route in. Variations on this also work - Electronic Engineering will be a route to designing the electronics on, say, a camera for the Space Station. You don't need to do a PhD if you decide to go into industry and work for a company like Airbus. Airbus are currently working on Mars Rovers, among other things, so they're a good example.

    I work for RAL Space which also offers apprenticeships for those that don't want to do a degree but would still like to work in the Space Industry. Here you can learn about the assembly and testing of Space Instruments, like the James Webb Space Telescope.

    If you want to concentrate on the Science side, rather than building Instruments, then Physics and related degrees are the way to go. A degree in Geoscience can be good if you want to look at Planets and how they are made. Geologists are crucial for Missions looking at the surface of Mars. Similarly, there is a growing field in Astrobiology so if you're interested in extra-terrestrial life, then you could study Biology and still move sideways into this area.

    For the majority of Space Science, Physics is still your best bet, though.

    In terms of skills, it helps to be curious, enthusiastic, hard-working and analytical. Being organised is also a great asset.
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    (Original post by donut_mckenzie28)
    what degree would i need to get a career in space? i wonder.
    Ideally a degree in Physics or something related like Astrophysics.

    If you'd like to look specifically at the structures of Planets, you could do a degree in Geophysics.

    If you'd like to build Space Instruments then a degree in Engineering or Space Systems Engineering would be good.
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    (Original post by nandocalrissian)
    Is astrophysics rocket science? I've applied to do astrophysics at Uni and was just wondering if I'd be able to make jokes to people about how I'm doing rocket science.
    Astrophysics is related to Rocket Science, so I think you can get away with that!

    You'll be mainly looking at things like the structure and life-cycles of stars, for example, and the origin and evolution of the Universe.

    You won't be designing or building rockets but your work will come from what those rockets send into Space.
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    if I'm doing Physics with a foundation year, will student finance cover the foundation year too?
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    (Original post by Ballowax12)
    if I'm doing Physics with a foundation year, will student finance cover the foundation year too?
    This is a question that should be asked of the Student Loan Company directly - they have other threads during Student Money Week that would get a quicker reply.

    I believe it is possible to get this funded (as a Year 0) but I'm not sure what the process would be. I think it should be pretty straight-forward, you just need to know how to do the paperwork correctly.
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    (Original post by Student Money Week 2018)
    Got a question about how you can start your career in space science and engineering? Our experts are here to help.

    Rain leads the Autonomous Systems Group at RAL Space and also works part-time for the STFC Business and Innovations Directorate. She specialises in leading and overseeing projects related to all aspects of Robotics for Space and on Earth.

    Previously Rain has worked as a Space Scientist and Systems Engineer, developing instruments for space exploration and for Earth observation. She was a Planetary Protection Officer for the NASA Insight mission, responsible for ensuring there was no contamination of the UK hardware sent to Mars.

    Please be aware all answers will be posted on Monday 12 February.
    Hey! Are there any work experiences available for 15 year olds? I'm turning 16 in 4 months and I will not be doing work-experience on the run up to my gcse's - So let me rephrase.
    What can I do as a 16 year old who wants to study Engineering, who wants to get into the Aviation field and wants to demonstrate passion for the subject at an elementary level. Thanks
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    (Original post by erratic_deus)
    Hey! Are there any work experiences available for 15 year olds? I'm turning 16 in 4 months and I will not be doing work-experience on the run up to my gcse's - So let me rephrase.
    What can I do as a 16 year old who wants to study Engineering, who wants to get into the Aviation field and wants to demonstrate passion for the subject at an elementary level. Thanks
    Hi! It's great to see someone so enthusiastic about what they want to do! Getting work experience is a fantastic way to improve your knowledge of the field, build up contacts and demonstrate your interest and commitment. It looks great on your CV and helps you decide if this is something you really want to do.

    Lots of organisations offer work experience schemes at all levels - whether you're at school or university. Your best bet is to get in touch with a company working in a related field and see if they have a work experience scheme. If they don't, ask whether they would consider taking you on as a placement anyway. They can only say no, and they might say yes!

    There are the big players such as Airbus (Stevenage) and BAE Systems that have bases around the Midlands and South of England. Similarly, Boeing have bases in London, Hounslow and Bristol. Use Google to see if there are smaller companies nearby as they are likely to be more flexible.

    For Space related work, RAL Space, SSTL, TAS-UK and ESA are all good starting places.

    Finally, don't underestimate University departments. They are often doing research in cutting edge areas of Engineering, often in Aerospace, and frequently take enthusiastic work experience students. Find out what the research groups are doing in your local University Engineering or Physics Departments (they all have web pages) and get in touch with them to ask for work experience.

    Hope that helps!
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    TSR Support Team
    Thanks to everyone for taking part in this webchat. There's lots else going on this Student Money Week so check out our calendar and get involved!
 
 
 
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