Principal Investigator for ASPOC
Dr. Torkar was born in Graz in Austria. He became fascinated with space research already during his studies at the Technical University Graz, where he developed software to analyse wave propagation data from sounding rockets. In 1975 he obtained an engineering degree from the Technical University Graz and joined Professor Willibald Riedler's group at the Space Research Institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences as a Research Assistant. He continued to study for his PhD with a doctoral work on the energy budget of the upper atmosphere. He stayed in Professor Riedler's group as a Research Assistant and contributed to establishing ion-chemical models of the lower ionosphere.
While analysing numerous sounding rocket data, he became involved in active experiments with artificial electron beams generated at the payloads to study the interaction of the beam with the ambient plasma and related effects due to charging of the payload. He became fascinated with active experiments, and when Professor Riedler became Principal Investigator for ASPOC, Dr. Torkar joined the team as Co-Investigator and Technical Manager for the instrument. After Professor Riedler's retirement he took over the role of PI. "The team spirit in the Cluster community is an exciting experience. The experiment ASPOC modifies the electric potential of the spacecraft and thereby helps to improve the data of several other instruments. We cannot sit alone in our offices and pursue our studies. We continuously have to talk to each other to find the optimum operational strategy and to get the best results from this mission."
Dr. Torkar was involved in other European space missions: as Lead Investigator of the Spacecraft Potential Control Instrument on the Equator-S mission and as Co-Investigator for the Spacecraft Potential Control Instrument on the Interball Auroral spacecraft. The close relationship between spacecraft potential control and plasma electron measurements is the reason for being Co-Investigator of the PEACE experiment. Dr. Torkar is also Deputy Principal Investigator of the Micro-Imaging Dust Analysis System for the cometary mission Rosetta. Dr. Torkar is married to his wife Marianne. His hobbies include hiking and skiing in the Austrian mountains.