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Olivier Marchal and Pasquale Panuzzo join GAIA CU6 in the Stellar and Galactic Physics team

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The team working on GAIA acrreted two new members who are now part of CU6 and work on the spectroscopic instrument of the satellite: Olivier Marchal and Pasquale Panuzzo, who are presenting themselves.

 Olivier Marchal

As far as I can remember I have always been fascinated by astronomy. Even as a child I wondered about the origin of this large whitish structure across the Vosgian sky. A bit later I saw TV shows with Hubert Reeves and I thought: “That’s what I want to be when I grow up”.

After completing studies in physics and a Master of Astrophysics in Strasbourg, I did not get a thesis grant. But as I was interested in image processing, I redid training in this area and then I worked in the --- not always wonderful --- private sector for 6 years. This allowed me to gain experience in software development and work in companies like Arcelor Research, Orange R & D, Crédit Mutuel and a software company. But I always kept in a corner of my mind the possibility of returning to my first love, namely astrophysics. And as time passed the need was more pressing. Finally the opportunity presented itself and I now have the honor of working in this beautiful setting that is the Meudon Observatory. Since late June so I joined the team led by Gaia CU6 Paola Sartoretti that deals with treatment of spectroscopic data of the satellite and I hope I can bring my small contribution to our understanding of the universe!

 Pasquale Panuzzo

Joining Meudon Observatory is a personal dream from a very long time! In 1995, while student at Padua University I’ve the possibility to do a stage at the DESPA and at that time I said: it is here where I want to work! The way to here was long. I got my degree in Padua University making models to study the evolution of grains in the ISM. Then I’ve done my PhD studies in astrophysics at SISSA, in Trieste, with a thesis (2003) on the dust and nebular emission in star forming galaxies.

After the PhD I started working for the Herschel mission, joining the SPIRE Instrument Control Centre, at which I contributed until the end of 2012. I spent the first 3 years at the Astronomical Observatory of Padua, and in 2007 I joined the Service d’Astrophysique of CEA in Saclay. My main activities were the development of software for the SPIRE data processing system (in particular I wrote several modules of the SPIRE pipeline), the participation to the characterization and calibration of SPIRE, the management of the pipeline development team.

I participated to several Herschel observational programs, both in guaranteed and in open time, were I brought my knowledge of Herschel instruments. In particular I worked at the data processing and interpretation of SPIRE FTS, SPIRE photometer and PACS photometer data for the “Very Nearby Galaxies Survey” program, the “Herschel Thousand Degree Survey (H-ATLAS)”, the “TNOs are cool”, and for the “HERschel Inventory of The Agents of Galaxy Evolution (HERITAGE) in the Magellanic Clouds” program.

At the same time, I’ve conducted an activity of research outside the “Herschel world”. In particular I’ve collaborated with R. Rampazzo and A. Bressan of the Astronomical Observatory of Padua in a project aimed at the study of the early-type galaxies using the Spitzer Space Telescope. In this project we were able, for the first time, to observe the emission from the circumstellar dust around AGB stars in nearby early type galaxies. This emission was proposed by our collaboration as a way to break the age-metallicity degeneracy in early-type galaxies. Spitzer data also allowed us to put in evidence that early type galaxies are not just “red and dead” systems but that they have quite frequently some kind of activity. We also suggested an evolutionary scenario to explain the different classes of mid-IR spectra as different activities induced by minor accretions episodes.

I joined the GEPI laboratory as Ingeneur de Recherche of CNRS to work in the GAIA CU6 group (the group charged of the data processing of the Radial Velocity Spectrometer). During these 9 years spent working for the Herschel mission, I built a strong experience in Java development, in procedures for quality control, in managing big and geographically-distributed software projects, in data processing, and in the organization of the ground segment of space missions. I’m really happy to bring my experience to this very exciting and challenging mission, in particular in this critical period that is the launch year!

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