Astrophysicist Julie Claveau, BSc ’09, has taken a interesting career trajectory to her existing operate on the James Webb Telescope, which will reveal new strategies of the universe.
For another person who’s invested most her everyday living gazing up at the stars, Julie Claveau is very down to earth. Get a speedy orbit about the UVic Science grad’s social media universe and you’ll learn Claveau is not only a Method Scientist for the Canadian Place Company (CSA) who’s been functioning on the recently introduced James Webb Space Telescope, but a mom of 3, a blogger, a YouTuber, an avid Planet of Warcraft gamer, violinist, dancer and former lifeguard. Her Instagram feed straddles the seemingly distant galaxies of astronomy, family, gardening and baking.
“People often have these stereotypes that if you are an astrophysicist you’re this kind of person… But there are so lots of various facets of a man or woman that adds to what they have to provide to the earth, or a group,” Claveau claims on a Zoom connect with from her household in Montreal even though intermittently finding interrupted by a single of her college-aged small children. “I definitely want to give again to the earth just so men and women can understand from what I know.”
The trajectory of Claveau’s journey to doing the job with the worldwide area local community on a $10-billion telescope which is been billed as a person of the most ambitious engineering initiatives ever tried is significantly from a straight line. There are stops together the way in Australia, Kitimat and Victoria. Her occupation expertise includes everything from operating in quick-food items travel-thrus to a decade of climbing the rungs of federal forms.
Claveau turned enthralled by outer place as a boy or girl when she would lie on the garden, night or day, and stare up at the sky. “I would lie there for hours seeking to envision how significantly infinity was. Like, ‘Oh, I’m wanting this far… but it keeps heading and it keeps heading,’” she states. “It was a quite mind-blowing thought to wrap my younger mind close to, that I still just cannot wrap my head all over these days.”
Claveau grew up in Chicoutimi, Quebec, lived in Australia with her family for a time (the place she became fluent in English) and graduated from large university in Kitimat, prior to enrolling at UVic as a science university student. She eventually narrowed her aim to physics and astronomy.
“That’s in which all of my enjoys are. There was plenty of hard problem-fixing to satisfy my thirst. There was adequate creativeness and liberty in get for me to specific myself. So that truly was the turning place.… When I found physics and astronomy [at UVic], it was so genuine to my heart, it was so engrained in my soul, it just made me so inherently happy that I realized I uncovered my area.”
Julio Navarro was Claveau’s astronomy professor.
There are all those college students who are quite proactive, and they are generally hoping to get to know much more. Calveau was pretty rigorous, as very well. She would come to my office hours and ask me concerns, so she was extremely passionate about astronomy. I believe which is just one of the issues that separates her from an regular student—this passion for astronomy that you only see almost never.”
—Julio Navarro, UVic cosmologist
While attending UVic, Claveau sponsored her research by doing work as a naval reservist at HMCS Malahat. Her father experienced been in the navy and she was an air cadet in high school, so it was a natural match. Following graduating from UVic in 2009, Claveau returned to Quebec, feeling aimless and doubtful of what to do with her physics diploma.
Soon after a several several years performing for Wellbeing Canada, Claveau recognized she wanted a alter. She observed there was an opening at the Canada Area Agency for a mission planner for the RADARSAT-2 Earth observation satellite. Her background in physics, military functions, administration and challenge management ticked all the bins.
The moment at CSA, Claveau designed it acknowledged that she was an astrophysicist and required to function in astronomy. Colleagues famous her enthusiasm and drive. Word received around and two yrs back, she turned System Scientist for House Astronomy, acting as a conduit concerning Canada and other nations around the world, governments, area agencies and universities. Her most important concentration, however, has been the James Webb House Telescope mission. Far more than 25 decades and $10 billion in the making, the Webb Telescope is a collaboration in between NASA, CSA and the European Space Agency (ESA), involving far more than 1,000 persons from 17 different nations around the world.
Webb is generally described as the successor to the Hubble Place Telescope, which launched in 1990 and has very well exceeded its 10-yr life expectancy, but it is distinctive, states Claveau. For a person detail, it is even larger. Webb’s key mirror is 6.5-metres across, in contrast to Hubble’s 2.4-metre span, and consists of 18 gold–coated hexagonal sections resembling a honeycomb.
Webb’s household is also significantly farther away. Whereas Hubble floats 547 kilometres previously mentioned Earth, Webb orbits the sun in line with Earth, 1.5 million kilometres away at what is called the next Lagrange place or L2. Owing to its proximity to the sunshine, Webb depends on a tennis court-sized sunshield, which, along with the mirrors, experienced to be folded up in an origami sample in get to in good shape into its rocket.
Unlike Hubble, Webb is designed to capture infrared light, allowing the telescope to see farther into the universe than ever just before, which will allow for researchers to greater recognize how planets, stars and galaxies are born and evolve around time. Claveau compares Webb to a time device.
“We will be capable to see about 13.5 billion decades back, mainly because mild normally takes time to vacation,” Claveau says. “The light of our sunlight will take about 8 minutes to get to us… So, when you search at the sunlight, you are truly wanting 8 minutes into the past.”
When we use Webb to glance at this far distant light, we’ll be wanting back at the beginning of the universe. Just being capable to see that will have huge impacts on every single one discipline of astronomy probable. We may find factors that we never ever assumed existed… It’s likely to totally revolutionize astronomy and our normal knowing of the universe.”
—Julie Claveau, UVic Class ’09
Canada’s contribution to Webb is also important. The CSA delivered the telescope’s Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) and the In the vicinity of-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS). The FGS assists Webb place and emphasis on certain objects with an accuracy Claveau compares to “seeing a baby’s hair from a kilometre absent.” The NIRISS is made up of a really delicate camera that will establish the atmospheric compositions of exoplanets, which are planets light yrs further than our solar program that orbit stars other than the solar.
“So far, we have been able to determine exoplanets… but we really don’t know if they are inhabitable or if there could perhaps be lifestyle there,” Claveau states. “With Webb, we will be equipped to know the composition of the atmospheres of these exoplanets, which usually means we will potentially discover new everyday living or habitable planets.”
Though Webb was released into orbit on Xmas Working day in 2021 from French Guiana on an ESA Ariane 5 rocket, it will acquire approximately 5 to 6 months before the to start with formal images are manufactured and transmitted again to Earth. Thanks to Canada’s contributions, Canadian researchers are certain at the very least five for every cent of Webb’s observation time and will be amongst the 1st to benefit from Webb’s effective instruments.
Claveau is also co-chair of the Women of all ages in STEM Advisory Committee at the Canadian Room Company, and is aiding organize a 2023 event with the United Nations Workplace for Outer Room Affairs (UNOOSA) to advertise women’s empowerment in place.
Under no circumstances end seeking up—I believe it was Stephen Hawkings who claimed that. As human beings we are generally wanting down at our feet or we’re targeted on our day-to-working day existence. But the instant you start off wanting up, you have an out-of-overall body working experience where you experience so smaller and quickly you are in ponder. Be curious, look up and dare to desire.”