Project Leadership

The SkyHopper project is led by a team of investigators with a diverse range of skills and expertise, including investigators with an exceptional track record in research from space observations, highly experienced instrument builders for ground and space projects, and academics with proven success in managing large research groups and complex organisations. Their contributions as part of the leadership team are listed below.

Key Science and Technical Domains
The following areas represent the key science and technical aspects of the mission in which each investigator is contributing.

Exoplanet Science Program Mission Design
Gamma Ray Burst and Infrared Transient Science Programs Telescope Payload Development
Cosmic Infrared Background Science Program Imaging Sensor Development
Planetary Formation Science Program Thermal Management Development
Advanced Technology Research Program Data Processing & Analysis Development
Communications Development
Systems Testing
  • Prof. Michele Trenti (University of Melbourne, Australia): Principal Investigator/GRB science co-lead

    Michele Trenti Designing and developing a space telescope requires scientific vision, leadership, experience in effective national and international cooperation, and dedicated commitment to the project. Michele has more than 10 years of leadership in space astronomy and his track record places him in the ideal conditions to fullfil these requirements and lead the SkyHopper mission successfully. He is either leading or a member of multiple international collaborations including, BoRG, HUDF12, GLASS, the RELICS surveys for the Hubble Telescope and the GLASS-ERS for the James Webb Space Telescope.
    Prof. Trenti’s role in the Science Team.

  • Prof. Airlie Chapman (University of Melbourne, Australia): Engineering team co-lead

    Airlie Chapman Prof. Chapman’s work in aerospace engineering brings a rich array of experience and innovation to bear on the proposed SkyHopper mission, and leading the engineering team. Her work on online optimisation and semi-autonomous systems positions her with the necessary background expertise for a successful project of the scale of SkyHopper.
    Prof. Chapman’s role in the Engineering Team.

  • Prof. Stan Skafidas (University of Melbourne, Australia): Engineering team co-lead

    Stan Skafidas Prof. Skafidas’ research experience and achievements make him an ideal invidual to co-lead the Engineering Team thanks to the combination of leadership and experience in managing complex engineering projects and bringing them to successful completion, a strong expertise in industry engagement, and technical excellence in the area of micro-electronics and control theory.
    Prof. Skafidas’ role in the Engineering Team.

  • Dr. Lee Spitler (Macquarie University, Australia): CIB science co-lead

    Lee Spitler Dr. Spitler has an established track record in observational astronomy, particulary with advanced image processing and data analysis techniques, both for ground and space telescopes. He also has demonstrated experience in the development of innovative ideas for astronomical instrumentation, including the Huntsman Telescope for studying low surface brightness galaxies (now operational at the Siding Springs Observatory), and an early concept design for a miniaturised space telescope, the Australian Space Eye. This combination makes him an ideal person to lead the SkyHopper Cosmic Infrared Background.
    Dr. Spitler’s role in the Science Team.

  • Prof. Jon Lawrence (Macquarie University, Australia): Telescope working group co-lead

    Jon Lawrence Prof. Lawrence is an internationally recognised leader in the field of astronomical instrumentation. From 2010 to 2018 he led (or co-led) the Instrumentation Group at the Australia Astronomical Observatory (AAO). He now leads the same group which has transitioned to AAO-Macquarie. This group has consisted of up to 45 staff including scientists, managers, engineers, and technicians. He provides leadership of the technical, programmatic, budgetary, staffing, facilities, and business development aspects of delivering astronomical instrumentation outcomes for the organisation. He has also served as Project Leader (with responsibility for the intellectual leadership, develop-ment and completion, and overall management of the project) for over 30 astronomical instrument projects.
    Prof. Lawrence’s role in the Engineering Team.

  • A/Prof. Michael Ireland (Australian National University, Australia): Exoplanet science co-lead

    A/Prof. Michael Ireland A/Prof. Ireland leads the Exoplanet research program, leveraging his expertise in both exoplanet science and in the development of highly innovative astronomical instrumentation. His tenure at various institutions and observatories around the world has resulted in the application of ground-breaking photonics technologies to astronomy science programs, through his scientific technological leadership. These programs include: the PAVO twin beam combiners, the Gemini GHOST program and the VELOCE-Rosso instrument.
    Prof. Ireland’s role in the Science Team.

  • Prof. Matthew Colless (Australian National University, Australia)

    Matthew Colless Professor Colless’ extensive experience with astronomical instrumentation and large telescope projects provides him with valuable expertise for contributing both to the development of instrumentation for this mission and the management of large, complex, and expensive scientific facilities. As Director of both the Australian Astronomical Observatory and the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, he has overseen numerous technical teams working on major astronomy instrumentation projects. He has also served on the Board of the Giant Magellan Telescope project and the Council of the European Southern Observatory.
    Prof. Colless’ role in the Science Team.

  • Prof. Virginia Kilborn (Swinburne Institute of Technology, Australia): Data processing working group lead/Media and Outreach lead

    Virginia Kilborn As Dean of Science at the Swinburne University of Technology, Professor Kilborn has overseen the development of the Astronomy Data and Compute Services Centre at Swinburne. This places her in an excellent position to oversee the development of the science data processing & analysis pipeline.
    Prof. Kilborn’s role in the Science Team.

  • Dr. Hadrien Devillepoix (Curtin University, Australia): Planetary Science lead

    Hadrien Devillepoix Dr. Devillepoix’s experience as a data processing engineer for the Gaia spacecraft, where he led the creation of tools for coordinating a global network of observers for the follow up of Gaias’ asteroid discoveries, as well as his experience leading the Desert Fireball Network’s science team and its adapation to a general astronomical research observatory, leaves him in an ideal place to lead the planetary science program.
    Dr. Devillepoix’s role in the Science Team.

  • Prof. Simon Driver (University of Western Australia, Australia)

    Simon Driver Prof. Driver, through his position as Winthrop Research Professor at UWA, will not only contribute to the ground segment for the SkyHopper mission but will also utilise his familiarity with the evolution of mass, energy and structure within the Universe to contribute to the Cosmic Infrared Background (CIB) science research program.
    Prof. Driver’s role in the Science Team.

  • Prof. Iver Cairns (University of Sydney, Australia)

    Iver Cairns Prof. Cairns has decades of experience in space science. His involvement in international missions, and current role as Director of the ARC Training Centre for Cubesats, UAVs and their Applications (CUAVA) will help him bring critical expertise to a variety of aspects related to the development of SkyHopper.
    Prof. Cairn’s role in the Engineering Team.

  • Prof. Guglielmo Aglietti (University of Auckland, New Zealand)

    Guglielmo Aglietti Prof. Aglietti is a world expert in space structures and mechanisms. As the current Director of the Space Institute of University of Auckland, he will be bringing his knowledge and expertise, as well as institutional participation, to this mission.
    Prof. Aglietti’s role in the Engineering Team.

  • Dr . Jochen Greiner (Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Germany): Telescope working group co-lead

    Dr. Jochen Greiner Dr. Greiner’s leadership in instrumentation development for ground and space applications and expertise in Gamma Ray Bursts make him ideally suited to contribute to both the GRB science program, as well as the development of the SkyHopper instrumentation. Consequently, Dr. Greiner will co-lead the GRB science working group for the telescope and contribute to the optical design of the telescope that will fly on SkyHopper.
    Dr. Greiner’s role in the Science Team.

  • Dr. Brad Cenko (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, USA)

    Dr. Brad Cenko Dr. Cenko is bringing his world class experience in astrophysics from space, and leadership in NASA missions, to SkyHopper. His current work as Principal Investigator of the Neil Gehrels Swift mission make him ideally suited to contribute to the Gamma Ray Burst science team as well as advise on spacecraft and payload development for platform requirements, thermal management and communication subsystems
    Prof. Cenko’s role in the Science Team.

  • Dr. Gianpiero Tagliaferri (Italian National Institute of Astrophysics, Italy)

    Gianpiero Tagliaferri Dr. Tagliaferri will be co-leading SkyHopper’s Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) science working group with Dr. Greiner. As a representative of the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) he will bring his vast expertise in space mission development to the mission.
    Dr. Tagliaferri’s role in the Science Team.

  • Prof. Michael Skrutskie (University of Virginia, USA)

    Prof Michael Skrutskie Prof. Skrutskie is a world leader in infrared instrumentation. His leadership as principal investigator of the 2-Micron All Sky Survey led to the revolutionising of modern IR astronomy. He is therefore ideally suited to contribute to the project in both planning IR observation strategies, as well as advising on the design of both the optical and detector subsystems.
    Prof. Skrutskie’s role in the Engineering Team.



Australian Astronomical Observatory ∙ Australian National University ∙ Cambridge University ∙ Curtin University ∙ Istituto Nazionale Di Astrofisica ∙ Macquarie University ∙ Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics ∙ NASA Goddard ∙ NASA Ames ∙ Space Telescope Science Institute ∙ Stonybrook University ∙ Swinburne Institute of Technology ∙ Thüringer Landessternwarte Tautenburg ∙ University of Colorado ∙ University of Leicester ∙ University of New South Wales ∙ University of Southern Queensland ∙ University of Virginia ∙ University of Western Australia