Professor Russell Boyce

Chair for Space Engineering at UNSW Canberra and Chair COSPAR 2020

Professor Russell Boyce holds the position of Chair for Space Engineering at UNSW Canberra, where he leads the UNSW Canberra Space Research effort. He brings to this role a research approach developed throughout 25 years in the field of hypersonics, coupling computational and experimental research with flight testing, most recently via the SCRAMSPACE scramjet flight experiment program which he led as Chair for Hypersonics at the University of Queensland. Read more.

Professor Boyce also chairs the Australian Academy of Science’s National Committee for Space and Radio Science, sits on the Executive Council of the Space Industry Association of Australia and is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

Professor Iver Cairns

University of Sydney, COSPAR 2020 International Program Committee Chair

Prof. Cairns received his PhD from the University of Sydney (Australia) in 1987. He worked at the University of Iowa (1986-1998) before taking up a prestigious 5-year Senior Research Fellowship at the University of Sydney, one of only 20 awarded over all research fields. In 2004 he was awarded a similarly competitive Australian Professorial Fellowship and in 2009 was appointed Professor in Space Physics (Teaching & Research) at U. Sydney. Read more.

Prof. Cairns has over 240 refereed papers published or in press in books and journals, a Hirsch index of over 28, given over 3 plenary and 75 invited papers at international conferences and obtained over US$7 M in competitive funding (excluding spacecraft projects) from Australian and US funding agencies. He has great experience leading international and national scientific societies (e.g., AOGS, the International Association for Geomagnetism and Aeronomy [IAGA] and the Australian Institute of Physics's Solar Terrestrial and Space Physics [STSP] Group).

He is Australia's national representative to both the ICSU Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) and IAGA. Nationally Prof. Cairns is the past Chair (2005-2011) of the Australian Academy of Science's National Committee for Space Science. As such he led the development of Australia's first Decadal Plan in space science, published by the Academy of Science in 2010. He also played a major role in the joint Academy's Strategic Plan for Earth Observation from Space, released in late 2009.

Prof. Cairns is a clear leader of Australia's space science community, writing submissions to multiple Government reviews and entities in the last several years which together with the Decadal and Strategic Plans have led to Australia's Government making space science a major priority and focus since May 2009. He has also led the development of a professional level annual Australian Space Science Conference from 2007.

Emeritus Professor Fred Menk

Physics, University of Newcastle and Chair, National Committee for Space and Radio Science

Fred Menk is Emeritus Professor of space physics at the University of Newcastle and chair of the Academy of Science National Committee for Space and Radio Science. His research interests focus on the physics of near-Earth space, related instrumentation and improving radiation treatment of cancers. Read more.

He has served in a range of academic and international research leadership roles, authored over 150 peer-reviewed publications in space science and medical physics and mentored over 30 PhD students. He is joint recipient of two Engineers Australia excellence awards and project managed development of the NewMag payload on the FedSat spacecraft. He served as Education Program manager in the Cooperative Research Centre for Satellite Systems and has convened numerous international symposia and national outreach events.

Imogen Rea

Satellite-Based Augmentation System Engineer, GeoSciences Australia, COSPAR 2020 STEM and Youth Leader

Fresh out of uni, Imogen Rea (BAeroEng 2019) has landed a position as an Engineer at Geoscience Australia, where she works on the Satellite-Based Augmentation System – technology that enhances the positioning capability of standard global navigation satellite systems.

“We’re delivering improved positioning across Australia, with accuracy down to 10 centimetres,” explains Imogen. “This means that your Uber will know what side of the road you’re on. I really enjoy how this project touches every industry and is a platform for Australian innovation.” Read more.

Prior to her current role, Imogen had worked for a year or so as a Satellite-Based Augmentation System Test-bed Project Coordinator at FrontierSI (formerly the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information), where she worked closely with industry to understand the benefits of the system to Australia and New Zealand. So she had some relevant experience under her belt when she arrived at Geoscience Australia.

As a Year 12 student, Imogen attended the National Youth Science Forum and Australian Youth Aerospace Forum. These experiences inspired her to pursue a degree in aerospace engineering. “I was interested in space and the hands-on element of engineering,” she says. “And through this discipline I’ve learned how to break down and solve complex problems, as well as how to communicate complex ideas to the public.”

At uni, Imogen participated in the technical and operations teams of Monash Motorsport, travelling and racing the combustion vehicle in Europe with them. She also served for two years as President of the Australian Youth Aerospace Association, which gave her an opportunity each June to share some lessons learned through university and the space industry with secondary school students in Queensland.

“The best thing these groups taught me was how to interact with a multi-disciplinary team – a skill that I’ll continue to build on and carry with me throughout my career,” shares Imogen.

Imogen hopes to one day work overseas in the space sector. She would like to then eventually return home with more expertise to contribute to an evolving space industry.

What does Imogen recommend to others? “Take every opportunity that comes your way – bite off more than you can chew and then chew like crazy!” she offers. “By doing this, you’ll build a broad network and a diverse skillset.”

Christopher Capon

Next Generation Space Capability Researcher at UNSW Canberra, COSPAR 2020 STEM and Youth Leader

Having helped develop UNSW Canberra Space from 4 to 50+ people and been involved in the design, planning and operation of multiple on-orbit next-gen capability demonstrators, Chris has expert insights into future space capabilities. Chris combines these insights with strong communication and leadership skills to align research and technology development to meet the needs of real people. Chris is an enthusiastic STEM advocate, with experience organizing, managing and running STEM outreach activities for a range of groups (e.g. AYAA, YMCA, YoWIE) and providing input to activities and exhibits for groups such as Questacon. Chris’s underlying motivation being to help build a vibrant Australian space industry. Read more.

Current Projects:

  • High-fidelity GPU-accelerated modelling of complex space systems
  • Ionospheric Aerodynamics for Active Satellite Control
  • Synthetic augmentation of data-limited systems to enhance learning-assisted inference/anomaly detection capabilities.
  • Reinforcement-learning optimized satellite constellations/swarms.
  • Development of flight hardware integrated digital twin systems for microsatellite platforms

Upcoming Projects:

  • Satellite Guided Herbicide Biodiscovery

Available Codes:

  • pdFOAM – A PIC-DSMC code for modelling near-Earth space environment interactions.

Codes Under Development:

  • rayMAN – A GPU-accelerated tool for modelling complex space systems (aerodynamics, solar radiation pressure, power availability, optical sensors, thermal transfer, laser links).
  • Cynthia – GPU-accelerated orbit propagator for rapid modelling of complex scenarios.

For more information on how to get involved with these projects, contact Chris at

Mary Snitch

Senior Staff, Global S&T Organizations, Enterprise Transformation, Lockheed Martin Corporation

Her 30-year professional career includes ten years at the U.S. Department of State and the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. She joined the private aerospace sector In 1983 with TRW and in 1985 joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA as Manager, Legislative and International Affairs. Mary returned to Washington in 1990 to join Lockheed Martin Corporation.

Mary Snitch Is an impactful contributor to the aerospace and STEM education community. She actively serves on Committees of the Board for the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the University of Maryland Aerospace Engineering Industrial Advisory Board. Read more.

She is an elected Full Member of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) and a Corporate Member of the International Astronautical Federation. Mary serves on the Board of Future Space Leaders and represents Lockheed Martin on the Local Organizing Committees for IAC 2017, IAC 2019 and the COSPAR Scientific Assembly 2018.

Mary received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from George Mason University and her Masters of Business Administration in Business, Economics and Public Policy from George Washington University. She completed LMC Executive Leadership Training at Claremont College in Claremont, CA and at Emory University, Atlanta, GA. She and her husband, Dr. Thomas Snitch, an international consultant, live in Bethesda, Maryland.

David Ball

Regional Director Australia New Zealand Lockheed Martin Space

Prior to joining Lockheed Martin, David was the Chief Executive Officer of the Space Environment Research Centre (SERC) and has held leadership roles in the Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA) for more than a decade, culminating in his current tenure as Chair, SIAA.

With over 25 years of experience in the space, communications and defence sectors David has spent a significant portion of his career specialising in satellite communications. Holding senior positions with several commercial satellite communications operators, including Intelsat and PanAmSat, David’s previous roles encompassed sales management, business development, customer service engineering, space systems design and spacecraft and launch vehicle acquisition. Read more.

David has also had significant involvement in satellite frequency coordination activities, spacecraft insurance placement and capital raise processes and has led communications projects for the Australian Department of Defence (through Envista Pty Ltd).

Earlier in his career David was an electronics engineering officer in the Royal Australian Air Force and was responsible for the engineering management of Defence communications systems with his final posting focused on military satellite communications systems.

David holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree (Communications Engineering) and a Graduate Diploma in Business Management and is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Dr Mark Cheung

Astro- and Heliophysicist, Lockheed Martin Space

Dr. Mark Cheung is a Senior Staff Physicist at Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, California. His scientific investigations take place at the intersection of research themes connecting the Sun with Earth, magnetic fields with plasmas and machine learning with space physics. He is the Principal Investigator for the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly ( on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (, which has been monitoring the Sun since 2010. Read more.

Mark is an advisor for Frontier Development Lab, where machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques are applied to accelerate space science discovery and exploration. Previously, he was a Visiting Scholar at the Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory, Stanford University and a Visiting Associate Professor at National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. Originally from Hong Kong, Mark grew up in Australia, studied physics at the University of Adelaide and carried out graduate research at the University of Göttingen and Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany.

COSPAR 2021 Ambassadors

James O'Connor

Social Media Ambassador

James is a passionate Educator, Science Researcher and Science Communicator. James' MSc Research involves modelling the orbital constraints on terrestrial exoplanets and climate models. Educating Space is a popular Instagram channel promoting Space Science, Astrophysics and Planetary Science.

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