Canada and the United States Hand in hand in space

One is a climatologist, the other is an astronomer. They point to the aerospace direction of their respective countries. This week, NASA’s new chief scientist, Catherine Calvin, met with her counterpart in St. Hubert and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) in Ottawa, Sarah Gallagher. The press Interviewed them in Ottawa.

Posted at 11:00 am

Matthew Perialt

Matthew Perialt
The press

Q. What did you talk about?

Katherine Calvin: We wanted to talk about our climate science collaboration and the data that NASA has.

Sarah Gallagher: We have a lot of collaboration projects. We will get an asteroid sample from a NASA mission next year. We have contributed to SWOT Satellite [Topographie des eaux de surface et des océans], Which will launch next fall. And we are working at Canadarm3 for the gateway lunar station.


Image provided by CSA

Sarah Gallagher and Catherine Calvin

What are the benefits of SWOT?

Casey: This is a collaboration between NASA and France with British and Canadian contributions. It will measure the amount of water in rivers and lakes for the first time, at this point will be assessed with field gauges. It is important for energy and agriculture. It will also measure heat and carbon absorption by the ocean.


Photo taken from ASC website

Impressions are gained in a fluid, global, diffused way

Where will the asteroid samples be stored?

SG: A CSA laser device enables the probe OSIRIS-REx Take a sample from the asteroid Benu in 2020. We will have part of this sample. We are probably in the process of determining where it will be stored at our headquarters in St. Hubert.


Photo taken from NASA website

Impressions are gained in a fluid, global, diffused way

Another important Canadian-American collaboration is the Space Telescope James Webb.

Casey: Although I’m not an astrophysicist, I still got up early to see the launch at Christmas.

SG: The first scientific images will be released on July 12th. Many of my colleagues have blocked the next two weeks to work on it. Until now, we only had technical pictures to make sure the instruments were working properly. I hope the July 12 picture will be diverse in terms of showing the power of the telescope.

Outside of the field of astrophysics, what are the concrete advantages of space exploration?

SG: Our technology development program in space medicine, for example, to keep astronauts healthy, especially at the gateway station. In Earth orbit, an astronaut can be brought back to Earth in a matter of hours. However, it takes several days on the moon. Telemedicine is very useful for remote areas of Canada.

Casey: We’re trying to grow crops on the International Space Station. The program already has terrestrial applications, such as LED lamps for indoor cultivation and fertilizer application technology near the roots for less use.

SG: We also have an indoor container farming program in Nunavu, the Norvik Project. Technicians in the region have been trained to deal with this.


Photo taken from ASC website

Norwegian experience in Nunavu

Are there any other missions in preparation?

Casey: The next satellite observation system will provide a 3D image of the atmosphere by the end of the decade.

SG: CSA will provide three devices for this system, two that will look at the edge of the atmosphere and one that will look down. They will capture all the particles like ice and aerosols. This is the biggest uncertainty about global warming and cooling.

Will the gateway be used to build a rocket on Mars?

SG: We study the resources of the moon. The water is very heavy, you can save the launch cost if you can take it to the moon. It is also possible to use lunar materials to build the structure. Lunar instrument tests are planned.

Do you think your appointments will affect women’s access to scientific careers? Have you faced obstacles in your career as a woman?

SG: I am the first person to hold this position. The barriers have been subtle. For example, sometimes I am asked if I am a doctoral student or an assistant. When I’m the only woman in a meeting, I feel the responsibility to be nice.

Casey: We met with Mona Neymar, Canada’s chief scientist. In my case, there was already a woman in the position I am in. Early in my career, it often happened that I was the only woman in a meeting. It’s a good thing it doesn’t happen anymore.

Will a Canadian walk on the moon?

SG: This is a reasonable expectation. We are gateway partners and our astronauts will go there.

Are you hoping to see a human mission to Mars before retiring?

Casey: We’ll do more complex missions to and from the moon.

SG: Many difficult issues need to be addressed, including the long-term effects of radiation on astronauts. I will say: maybe.

Learn more

  • 5%
    The proportion of Canadian organizations observing time in the James Webb Space Telescope in 24 years

    Sources: NASA and the Canadian Space Agency

    US $ 9.6 billion
    Expected cost of the James Webb Space Telescope, including running costs

    Sources: NASA and the Canadian Space Agency

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