Dr. Mihkel Pajusalu
Associate Professor in Space Technology
Head of the Space Technology Department in Tartu Observatory
Mihkel Pajusalu defended his Ph.D. in physics in University of Tartu (UT) in 2014 and was working as a Postdoc at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Sara Seager's, Tanja Bosak's and Shuhei Ono's labs 2015-2019, after which he returned to Tartu Observatory (TO). His interests lie in making human existance interplanetary by studying biology in planetary context (astrobiology), planetary and space exploration, in situ resource utilization, and transferring technologies between terrestrial and space applications. He is the Principal investigator of the OPIC instrument for the Comet Interceptor mission.
Dr. Andris Slavinskis
Associate Professor in Space Technology
Andris Slavinskis earned his PhD in Physics (space technology) from the University of Tartu (UT) in 2014 and is currently sharing time between Aalto University in Finland and TO where he is the main supervisor of four PhD students and responsible for the ESTCube-2 launch (part of EC IOD/IOV Programme). He was an initial member of the Comet Interceptor consortium where TO and Aalto develops the OPIC instrument, for which Slavinskis serves as a Co-I. During 2017–2018, he worked at NASA Ames Research Center’s Mission Design Division. Slavinskis is interested in nanosatellites, nanospacecraft, electric sailing, as well as small science missions beyond low Earth orbit.
Dr. Aire Olesk
Aire Olesk received her Ph.D in Physics from the University of Tartu in 2016 and Masters of Engineering in Surveying and Spatial Information Systems from the UNSW in 2011. Part of her doctoral studies were carried out at the European Space Agency. Work at the ESA Centre for Earth Observation ESRIN involved contributing to the Earth Observation research and applications development in Science, Applications and Future Technologies Department. Her interests include Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) for terrestrial applications, SAR data processing, analysis and EO-based applications development. She has also gained experience in robotics, positioning and navigation, working at the SNAP Lab of the UNSW in Sydney.
Dr. Ida Rahu
Senior Specialist for Chemistry
Ida Rahu defended her doctoral degree in chemistry at the University of Tartu in 2020. Her research focused on developing more environmentally friendly bromination methods for aromatic compounds. Besides the scientific world, her heart belongs to teaching: she has given lectures at the university from general to very specific organic chemistry and has also worked as a teacher in both basic school and upper secondary school. In addition, Ida is the Head of the Jury of the Estonian Chemistry Olympiad and a member of the jury of the Science Olympiad.
Hendrik Ehrpais, M.Sc.
Hendrik Ehrpais is an engineer at TO and a PhD student in Physics since 2017 at UT; BSc in Physics and MSc in Robotics and Computer Engineering (2015 and 2017) from UT. His PhD topic is interplanetary nanosatellite attitude determination. Mr. Ehrpais is the CTO of the Estonian Student Satellite Foundation (ESTCube) and the Prinipal investigator of a project developing localization algorithms for off-road autonomous navigation and a project developing a radiometrically calibrated Earth observation instrument. His research interests include sensor fusion algorithms and sensor technology, optical instruments and autonomous navigation.
Joosep Kivastik, M.Sc.
Joosep Kivastik is a physics’ PhD student at the University of Tartu specializing in optical instruments for nanosatellites. Furthermore, he is an engineer at UT Tartu Observatory working on diffuser simulations, optical design and systems engineering. He also leads the ESTCube-2 Earth Observation Payload team. He is passionate about space and wants to make the future promised in sci-fi books the current reality.
Dr. Iaroslav Iakubivskyi
Space Technology Researcher
Iaroslav Iakubivskyi received BSc in Gas Turbine and Jet Engine Engineering from National Aviation University (Ukraine) and MSc from University of Tartu (Estonia) in Robotics and Computer Engineering. Iaroslav’s PhD research is focused on technologies for deorbiting and planetary research with smallsats. He is also involved in the PELE team, which is focused on the characterisation of biological and geological substrates in Martian analogue lava caves.
Quazi Saimoon Islam, M.Sc.
Junior Research Fellow, Ph.D. student
Quazi Saimoon Islam is currently pursuing his PhD in physics and received his Masters degree in Robotics and Computer Engineer from the University of Tartu in 2020. He is active member of the ESTCube-2 project, working on the Star Tracker subsystem. He is passionate about the continuous development of space technology and in particular, visual navigational systems for ground vehicles and deep space exploration. He is currently working as an engineer at the Nutikas (R&D) project.
Hans Teras, M. Sc.
Junior Research Fellow, PhD student
Hans Teras is currently pursuing his PhD in Physics at the University of Tartu. He is specializing on spacecraft simulations and attitude control. He has spent the last couple of years at the helm of the ESTCube-2 student satellite project as project manager. Aside from that he works as a Junior Research Fellow in Tartu Observatory and helps out on multiple space technology department projects with attitude and orbit simulations. He is super enthusiastic about the future of mankind in outer space along with AI development and advances in bionics research.
Aditya Savio Paul, M. Sc.
Junior Research Fellow, PhD student
Aditya currently works as a junior research fellow at Tartu Observatory. He received his bachelor’s degree in mechatronics engineering at UPES, India in 2017 and a master’s degree in robotics and space technology at the University of Tartu in 2020. Aditya’s current area of research involves the design and development of space missions especially using multiple agents to characterize dynamic events within the OPIC team. He works as a developer in the Nutikas MetsaRobot project and is also associated with ESTCube-2 to develop ranging experiment for small satellites. Aditya is motivated to advance space exploration approaches by using physics and robotics technology to advance human knowledge beyond the realms of the earth.
Ric Dengel, M. Sc.
Junior Research Fellow, PhD Student
Already during his bachelors, Ric Dengel enjoyed the student team environment during his participation in the QUEST on BEXUS 27 project as electronics and systems lead. In 2019 he joined the ASTER on REXUS 30 project as software lead. Throughout the project he became control system engineer and team leader of this international student team. As intern in ESAs Software Technology section, he deployed machine learning in hardware accelerated embedded systems resulting in his master thesis and his XLA HLS open-source project. This was followed with a young graduate trainee position in ESAs Onboard Computer and Data Handling section at ESTEC. Now, he is a PhD student in the Space Technology Department at the Tartu Observatory. His PhD is aims to enable high reliability low latency neural network use on-board spacecraft.
Rando Avarmaa, M. Sc.
Space Technology Engineer
Rando Avarmaa received his BSc in Physics (2017) and MSc in Robotics and Computer Engineering (2020) both from the University of Tartu. He is interested in computer vision applications and autonomous navigation of ground and air vehicles.
Engineer, M.Sc. student
Karin Kruuse completed her bachelor's studies in Physics and is currently pursuing her master's degree (also in Physics) at the University of Tartu. Her intrest in engineering and applied sciences was sparked in high school when she had a chance to participate in the ESTCube-2 project. Prior to this she considered pursuing a future in Mathematics. More recently, her research focuses on physics modeling for planetary rovers for future Lunar rover missions utilizing Lunar simulation environments developed in Unreal Engine 5 as well as the development of camera systems for Lunar applications.
Silvar Muru received his Masters in Robotics and Computer Engineering, specializing in Space Technology, at the University of Tartu in 2021. He previous background comes from civil and military aviation. He is currently working as an engineer at UT Tartu Observatory on mechanical design and analysis. He is an active member of the ESTCube-2 project, working on the structures and camera subsystem. He is passionate about robotic arms, aviation and urban farming. More recently, Silvar is actively leading the mechanical design of KuupKulgur, which aims to be Estonia's first Lunar rover project.
Reimo Soosaar is an engineer at the UT Tartu Observatory and in the Estonian Centre for Defence Investments. He has BSc in Materials Science and Technology from the University of Tartu (2009), where he worked on the ESTCube-1 nanosatellite with the emphasis on space environment and its effects on the spacecraft. He has extensive work experience in product development and engineering, also management of projects, production and procurements. He's quite passionate about various topics of space & defence technologies, occasionally writing about these and giving lectures in both at the UT and public schools.
Engineer, M.Sc Student
Tarvi completed his bachelor's studies in computer engineering from the University of Tartu and continues his academic path through his current pursuit of a Master's degree in Robotics and Computer Engineering. He has been deeply integral in the Nutikas Metsarobot project, contributing heaviy towards the developmnet of the Jaguar robotic platform. His master's thesis research focuses around the analysis and evaluation of visual feature detection and matching approaches towards off-road navigation.
Engineer, M.Sc Student
Sten completed his bachelor's studies in "Computer engineering" at Tartu University. Sten has a strong foundation in the field and is now focused on furthering their expertise in robotics. During their undergraduate studies, Sten worked on a thesis project titled "Concept and electronics for a test system of electronic devices," showcasing their skills in technical analysis and electronic design. Currently, in the final year of their master's program, he's actively exploring their research interests and is particularly drawn to the fields of robotics and machine vision. Looking ahead, Sten's goal is to find meaningful work that allows them to make a positive impact while being a valuable member of a team. With their education and passion for computer engineering and robotics, they are poised to make a significant contribution in the field.
Sharad is an aerospace engineer having completed his ME from Concordia University (Canada) in 2019 and BSc from University of Petroleum and Energy Studies (India) in 2016. He has a penchant for space exploration, that propels him to actively work on space related projects such as building of satellites, exploration of asteroid mining, space colonization methods and others. In fact, he has even presented papers at IAF Conference 2015 and 2016 based on same subjects. In addition to it, he contributed to ESEO cubesat by performing structural analysis on its primary payload camera in 2015.
Surmit Bhui is an engineer at Tartu Observatory and received his Master of Space Engineering from Technische Universität Berlin. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from UPES, India in 2015, and worked as a summer intern at TO in the European Student Earth Observation Mission (ESEO) in 2014. Surmit’s current interests involve Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, with an aim to leverage advances in Deep Learning for robotic space exploration. He is currently involved in the Nutikas MetsaRobot project developing autonomy algorithms for off-road vehicular navigation.
Karlis Luksis, Master of Electronic Engineering
Artiom finished his BSc in Mechanical Engineering from Hanze University of Applied Sciences (Netherlands) this April (2021). His thesis was carried out with the OPIC team, designing and analysing the instrument's periscope and he is working as an engineer at the Observatory, specialising in mechanical design and optical analysis. Artiom is interested in pursuing a Masters degree in Aeronautical Engineering next and his passion is to take part in creating instruments and devices that expand humanity's understanding of the cosmos.