It is the knowledge of necessary and eternal truths that distinguishes us from the mere animals and gives us Reason and the sciences, raising us to the knowledge of ourselves and of God.
― Gottfried Leibniz
Toulouse, the European capital of aeronautics and space, hosted the 2023 RADECS Conference for the world’s top experts on ionization, photonics, circuits, and sensors. This year our very own Janet Barth, aerospace engineering icon and MERC Senior Adviser, was honored with the prestigious 2023 IEEE Marie Sklodowska-Curie Field Award “for leadership of and contributions to the advancement of the design, building, deployment, and operation of capable, robust space systems.”
Is there a better personification of our objectives here at MERC?
The RADECS conference, which explores cutting-edge new technologies and observations about radiation and its effects on systems, took several opportunities to showcase Janet’s expertise and her commitment to advancing this field. Alongside serving as a member of one of the technical committees, she also contributed research about the use of Infrared Detectors in Space Applications and made a special presentation on Women in Engineering.
The highlight of the conference was to see our own Senior Adviser honored for her lifetime achievements and continued contributions to this field we love. Janet received the Curie award Wednesday afternoon to an excited room eager to share the joy of success with one of our company’s—and industry’s—brightest stars.
As you may know, Janet’s journey into aerospace engineering began at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, where she joined as a co-op student, worked on projects like the Hubble and James Webb telescopes, and eventually became the first female chief of engineering. Over her career, she has made significant contributions to the analysis of cosmic rays and solar radiation’s effects on spacecraft observatories. Her pioneering work in standardizing radiation models and advancing space systems’ capabilities solidified her reputation as a trailblazer in the field.
The research she co-authored for the RADECS 2023 Conference, “Investigating Dark Current Random-Telegraph-Signal in an HgCdTe H4RG-10 Infrared Detector for Space Application,” is a perfect example of Janet’s accomplishments as a scientist. She contributes on the highest level to critical areas such as dark current random-telegraph-signal characteristics in astronomical infrared sensors, collaborating with an international team of scholars, while always staying focused on the big picture of making space exploration a sustained reality.
Janet also chaired the session “Radiation Environments,” reflecting her deep knowledge and leadership of scholars who study radiation effects on components and systems—an integral part of MERC’s operational expertise.
Past Curie award recipients have included some of the most prominent scientists in areas such as x-ray technology, molecular imaging systems, and plasma particle accelerators. Despite being named for one of the world’s most famous female scientists, 2023 was the first time since the award’s inception that a female scientist was the honoree.
In the world of aerospace engineering, Janet Barth stands as a beacon of innovation and dedication. Her contributions to the field, her leadership at MERC, and her engagement with the global aerospace community continue to inspire and shape the future of space exploration. The RADECS 2023 Conference in Toulouse and the presentation of the IEEE Marie Sklodowska-Curie Field Award was a testament to her enduring legacy at this company and her farsightedness beyond the horizons of the future of aerospace.