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Dilan realizes his dream and spends 6 months as an intern at JPL

Published on

28 Nov 2022

Dilan is a final year student at ISAE-SUPAERO in the “Design and Operation of Space Systems” field and in the “Earth Observation and Sciences of the Universe” field. He was supported by the ISAE-SUPAERO Foundation in January 2022 in order to carry out his end-of-studies internship at NASA JPL-Caltech in Los Angeles on the Cubesats for the exploration of the solar system in the framework of the Artemis program. Back in November 2022, he shares his testimony!

What were your motivations for doing an internship at NASA JPL?

Passionate about astrophysics, planetology, and space engineering since high school, doing a graduate internship at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Los Angeles represented for me the accomplishment of a lifetime, the holy grail, my unrealistic and unattainable dream of youth. I could never have thought that the son of a worker and a cleaning lady that I was, would one day be able to step into the ranks of what was and still is for me, the most prestigious institution in the world, pushing back the limits of humanity decade after decade with missions all more ambitious and fascinating than the others.

I wanted to do my internship on solar system exploration missions, to be at the interface between space instrumentation and planetology, at the interface between engineering and science. My dream was always to one day work for NASA, so I applied to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which I believe is the leader in the field of space exploration of the solar system, including rovers, landers and exploration probes.

How was your stay? What were the highlights?

At JPL, I was able to work on the Farside Seismic Suite (FSS) mission, part of NASA’s Payloads and Research Investigations on the Surface of the Moon (PRISM) program, which is scheduled to fly in 2025. The instrument suite will be integrated on a commercial lander (Draper’s Series-2 lander) as part of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program that will land in the Schrödinger crater at the Moon’s south pole, the destination of the various astronaut crews of the Artemis program. FSS will deliver two seismometers (both tested on the InSight mission to Mars). FSS will outlive the commercial lander and record the moonquakes for several months to answer critical scientific questions. Being able to work on a lunar mission during the Artemis program was a unique opportunity and made it feel like Apollo 2.0. This internship perfectly complemented my training and was perfectly in line with my choice of course in my last year (COS and OTSU).

At JPL, I was able to meet the engineers and researchers that I admired and followed for years, whether they were involved in the solar system exploration missions of the inner planets (Curiosity, Perseverance, Ingenuity, InSight, MRO, etc.) or the outer planets (Voyager, Cassini, JUNO, Europa Clipper, DragonFly, etc.)

It was also an opportunity for me to attend the last two InSight Science Meetings (STM) where InSight was functional and alive. This allowed me to meet the men and women who thought, proposed, designed and operated this mission that taught us so much about the internal structure of the red planet.

During these 6 months at JPL, I was also able to deepen my understanding of American culture and travel throughout the United States whether to venture into the famous national parks (Yosemite, Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Bryce Canyon, …) or to discover new cities (San Francisco, San Diego, Las Vegas, Santa Barbara, …).

On a personal level this stay was extraordinary, I was able to meet great people, rub shoulders with American interns from all over the United States and interns from all over the world with whom I made very strong friendships. I have unforgettable memories of this stay and a humility that has grown from all these fantastic encounters. This internship will definitely shape the man and scientist I want to become.

What did you get out of your stay? What’s next for you?

This internship allowed me to work on a mission to land on the Moon in 2025 for which I was able to work with the engineering and scientific teams. This lunar mission will be the main thread of my professional career, in fact, I am heading towards a bi-institutional thesis at Imperial College London and ISAE-SUPAERO on this same mission. JPL also proposed me to work soon on a mission proposal to Mars based on the FSS architecture, in the continuity of InSight.

I will therefore be able to continue working at ISAE-SUPAERO with the scientific teams working on InSight and FSS. This internship at JPL reinforces the strong link between ISAE and JPL, which has allowed ISAE to work on many joint missions with NASA.

Dilan Portela-Moreira’s testimony

In the final year of the engineering curriculum

I would like to express once again my deepest gratitude to the ISAE-SUPAERO Foundation.

Interning at NASA JPL in Los Angeles is a childhood dream and a once in a lifetime opportunity and I was finally able to realize it thanks to your support.


So thank you so much for investing in my future


I am sincerely pleased to know that Foundations such as yours are doing their best to strive for greater equality and equity, thus enabling students who are sometimes in a precarious situation to achieve their educational or professional goals.

  • Article Le Figaro étudiant – “Since high school, I got into the habit of studying at night”: the determination of Dilan, an intern at Nasa – read here
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