York U research headed for Mars aboard NASA

Canadian Universities Forum (discussion group)

Subject: York U research headed for Mars aboard NASA
York U research headed for Mars aboard NASA Phoenix Mission

TORONTO, August 1, 2007 -- Meteorological instrumentation developed by a team led by York University space scientists will play a key role in NASA??s Phoenix Mission to Mars, scheduled to launch on August 4, 2007.

York University leads the Canadian science team responsible for the design and construction of the lander??s sophisticated weather station, which will gather critical data about the weather and climate on Mars. This meteorological information package (MET) will provide a comprehensive picture of Martian weather at the landing site. It was constructed with $37 million in funding from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

The Phoenix Mission is slated to land on Mars in May 2008; it will investigate a site in the far north of the planet to answer questions about that part of Mars, and to help resolve broader questions concerning water and conditions that could support life.

??Information gathered by our instrumentation on the formation and movement of clouds, fogs, and dust plumes will add valuable new insights into the climate of Mars and the planet??s potential for supporting life,?? says lead scientist Jim Whiteway, Associate Professor of Space Engineering at York University.

The MET package consists of temperature sensors, a wind sensor, and a pressure sensor, as well as a sophisticated laser-based light-detecting-and-ranging (lidar) system. The lidar uses laser light pulses to precisely measure distances and diagnose components of the atmosphere, including concentrations of fog, dust, and clouds.

Richard Hornsey, Associate Dean of York??s School of Engineering, says the Phoenix Mission is an exciting combination of space science and space engineering. ??It reflects the unique expertise in these fields at York at both the research and undergraduate levels,?? he says.

The MET package was developed in partnership with the University of Alberta, Dalhousie University, Optech and the Geological Survey of Canada, with international collaboration from The Finnish Meteorological Institute. MDA Space Missions is the prime contractor for the meteorological station, in partnership with Optech, which manufactured the lidar. Aarhus University (Denmark) constructed part of the wind sensor.

The members of York??s Phoenix team are:

Dr. Allan Carswell, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, Faculty of Science & Engineering, is one of Canada??s pre-eminent space scientists, and an internationally-recognized leader in the field of lidar systems. In 1974, he founded Optech, to develop commercial systems based on lidar technology. The lidar technology pioneered by Professor Carswell will measure dust, clouds and fog in the Martian atmosphere.

Dr. Diane Michelangeli, Professor of Atmospheric Science in the Department of Earth & Space Science & Engineering, Faculty of Science & Engineering, is studying processes involving clouds, water vapour, dust, and fog in the Martian atmosphere.

Dr. Peter Taylor, Professor of Atmospheric Science and Applied Mathematics in the Department of Earth & Space Science & Engineering, Faculty of Science & Engineering, studies wind and blowing snow in the Canadian Arctic, making him an ideal scientist for research into the Martian sub-polar climate. He and his team completed wind tunnel testing of the temperature sensors that will be used on the Mars lander, and conduct research into issues related to dust concentrations in the lower atmosphere of Mars and sublimation of exposed ice surfaces.

Dr. Jim Whiteway, Associate Professor of Space Engineering and Canada Research Chair in Space and Engineering and Atmospheric Science at York University, is a noted expert in the use of lidar technology to study cloud processes. He is the team??s principal investigator and led the design, testing, and implementation of the lidar system.

York is the only university in Canada that grants both undergraduate and graduate degrees in Space Science and offers the unique accredited Space Engineering degree.

For more information on Canada??s role in the Phoenix Mission, visit:

http://www.space.gc.ca/asc/eng/exploration/phoenix.asp .

York University is the leading interdisciplinary research and teaching university in Canada. York offers a modern, academic experience at the undergraduate and graduate level in Toronto, Canada??s most international city. The third largest university in the country, York is host to a dynamic academic community of 50,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff, as well as 200,000 alumni worldwide. York??s 11 faculties and 24 research centres conduct ambitious, groundbreaking research that is interdisciplinary, cutting across traditional academic boundaries. This distinctive and collaborative approach is preparing students for the future and bringing fresh insights and solutions to real-world challenges. York University is an autonomous, not-for-profit corporation.

(in reply to: York U research headed for Mars aboard NASA)



Canadian Universities Forum at Canada City Web Site | Start Home Based Business in Canada | Canadian and International FLP Business