Dr Rain Irshad leads the Autonomous Systems Group at RAL Space and heads STFC (Science and Technology Facilities Council) activities related to the Harwell Robotics and Autonomy Facility and Planetary Sample Curation. She has over 15 years’ experience working as a Space Scientist and Systems Engineer at the University of Oxford and at RAL Space.
Dr Irshad has extensive experience in leading and managing space projects, including the development of HMRM (Highly Miniaturised Radiation Monitor), MARVIN (Mars Analogue Rover for Validation of Instrumentation and Navigation), the RAL contribution to the SEIS-SP instrument on InSight and the SterLim study to determine sterilisation limits for sample return. She took on QA and Systems Engineering roles for the ExoMars, TechDemoSat and InSight missions, and was the Lead Systems Engineer on the EChO project (Exoplanet Characterisation Observatory). She also specialises in Planetary Protection activities and was the Planetary Protection Officer for SEIS-SP, which successfully launched in May 2018 as part of NASA’s InSight mission to Mars.
Dr Irshad has significant experience in technology development for space, especially in the field of spectroscopic instrumentation including CMS (Compact Modular Sounder), ATMS (Asteroid Thermal Mapping Spectrometer), ORTIS (ORbiter Terahertz Infrared Spectrometer), and SPICE (Spectral Imaging of the Coronal Environment). As Autonomous Systems lead at RAL Space she has developed additional expertise in the validation and verification of space robotics and in terrestrial platform and manipulator development. She is currently leading a project to detect landmines in Cambodia using technology originally developed by her group for space applications.