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President's Message - Jan 2004

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January 2004

Chris Gainor

Although the Great Galactic Ghoul gobbled up the Nozomi spacecraft that was supposed to carry an atmosphere experiment from Canada into orbit around Mars last month, 2003 had some good news for Canadian space science.

Canada launched its first scientific satellites into space since the end of the Alouette-ISIS program in 1971. One of them was SCISAT, a spacecraft that will probe the depletion of ozone in Earth�s atmosphere.

At the end of June, a Russian rocket launched MOST (Microvariability & Oscillations of STars), Canada's own Humble Space Telescope. It weighs only 60 kg and looks like a suitcase, but MOST is a big step forward for Canadian astronomy.

MOST�s space telescope will probe planets orbiting other stars and help scientists decide on the size of the universe. I look forward to hearing about MOST�s findings in the coming months.

NASA announced this year that it will launch a spacecraft named Phoenix in 2007 that will land on Mars with a battery of experiments, including a weather station that will be built in Canada with the support of the Canadian Space Agency.

On a less positive note, the federal cabinet turned down the CSA's plans to equip a 2009 NASA Mars lander with a Canadian robot arm and experiments package. And NASA�s plans to launch Canadian astronauts Steve MacLean and Dave Williams into space in 2003 were indefinitely postponed after the loss of the shuttle Columbia on February 1.

Back on Earth, Canadian astronomers and technicians were hard at work advancing science, as the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics' new director, Dr. Greg Fahlman, reported to us at our banquet in November.

People like Dr. J. J. Kavelaars, who spoke to our 2002 banquet, are finding new moons around the gas giant planets in our solar system.

The Altair adaptive optics system, built at the DAO, is at work in the Gemini North Telescope delivering clear images of distant objects in the universe. MegaPrime, the world�s largest digital camera, built in part at the DAO, is now in use at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.

These Canadian instruments and scientists will have some great photos and greater discoveries for us in the years to come.


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Last updated: December 12, 2013

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