Frédérick Pasternak

Unlocking next-gen weather forecasts and climate models

Technical field
Airbus Defence and Space SAS, Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES)
Aeronautical engineer Frédérick Pasternak has invented a space-based weather forecasting instrument that will map out gases in the atmosphere in unprecedented detail and boost the reliability of climate change forecasts.

Finalist for the European Inventor Award 2022

The Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) is one of the most advanced weather instruments ever built, but is thought to have reached its physical limits. Its optical components distort radiation emitted over wide angles, at times leading to confusing readings. To overcome this problem, the French inventor began developing a special prism for the IASI. After nearly a decade of R&D, Pasternak and his team fine-tuned the instrument to constantly reposition the prism to focus infrared radiation and compensate for its distortions. Thanks to their perseverance, the upgraded instrument is expected to double the resolution with which meteorologists can identify atmospheric gases.

The IASI will reveal unprecedented detail in the humidity, temperature and concentration of air above the ground. It will improve the accuracy of weather forecasts, helping European early warning systems save lives and hundreds of millions of euros in damages each year. Crucially, the improvements in data accuracy will play a role in future climate policy decisions. The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) will install the upgraded instrument onboard the MetOp-SG satellites that will be launched into orbit in 2024.

A lifetime in aerospace

Pasternak graduated in aeronautical engineering in 1983 from ISAE-SUPAERO, the world's first dedicated aerospace engineering school. For 38 years, he has worked at Airbus Defence and Space, currently serving as head of the Department of Optical Instrument Studies. The company, which employs 40 000 people, included Mr Pasternak in its hall of fame in 2016 for his work that not only sheds new light on atmospheric science, but has also helped Europe's largest aerospace company secure contracts worth hundreds of millions of euros.

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