Flights and Fieldwork for the Advancement of Science and Technology (FAST 2015)

Announcement of Opportunity

Publication date: July 23, 2015

Application deadline: October 16, 2015

Summary of Key Information

  • Expected budget for new awards over three years: $6 million
  • Eligible recipients: Canadian universities
  • Type of transfer of funds: Grants
  • Maximum amount per grant: Two funding categories
    1. $500,000
    2. $200,000
  • Maximum duration of awards: 3 years from award
  • Number of approximate new awards pending adequate proposals of merit: 20
  • Application deadline: October 16, 2015

1. Introduction

The objective of the Flights and Fieldwork for the Advancement of Science and Technology (FAST) Announcement of Opportunity (AO) is to support Canadian university research projects that offer hands-on experience in space-like missions to Canadian Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) and more precisely to students and young researchers (post-doctoral fellows or PDFs) needed in the marketplace.

The primary result sought from this opportunity is to attract and train Canadian HQP to build capacity to enable Canada's future competitiveness and productivity in the space sector.

Building Canadian capacity in space science and technology is a priority for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Canada must develop and maintain a robust and experienced workforce within industry, academia, and government in order to continue playing an active role in future space missions. Opportunities to participate in a space mission, including developing and using scientific instruments for satellites, the International Space Station (ISS) or other space-based platforms, are infrequent, but when a space mission activity is approved, a team with expertise and experience must be quickly formed to meet challenging schedule constraints driven by launch or market opportunities.

"Space-like missions" are projects that allow space experts in academia to propose interesting research suitable to maintain their expertise, attract and train the next generation of HQP, and prepare for future missions. These projects consist of:

  • Building or modifying scientific instruments or technologies;
  • Using them in a simulated space environment, or flying them on suborbital or miniature orbital platforms (nanosatellites); and when appropriate,
  • Conducting data analysis to address scientific and/or operational objectives, or assess the success of a technology test.

"Space-like missions" also have the sense of fidelity to actual space mission requirements, operations and/or constraints. Where space-like missions proposed under this AO also contribute to validation of space missions currently in orbit, or reduction in risk for anticipated future space missions, the fidelity of the training experience is increased for students and PDFs, and results of such activities contribute more directly to research priorities for Canada.

"Simulated space environment" includes ground-based infrastructure simulating a microgravity environment, environmental test chambers simulating the space environment, remote-sensing infrastructure located in remote and isolated environment, and fieldwork conducted on Earth at analogue sites that replicate some features and/or processes that could be found on other planetary bodies and asteroids, or that replicate some operational constraints encountered on space missions. Typically, for Earth system and solar-terrestrial sciences research projects, the use of remote-sensing infrastructure in remote locations is highly relevant to testing and validation of scientific instruments in orbit, while for planetary surface missions, activities at analogue sites are necessary to understand and validate surface operations needs for instruments and systems. Testing instruments and systems in an environmental test chamber helps understand how instruments will perform in relevant space pressure and/or temperature and/or planetary regolith environments.

Analogue sites, ground-based infrastructure simulating microgravity, remote-sensing infrastructure located in remote and isolated environments, and suborbital platforms are ideal environments to conduct space-like missions, providing students and PDFs with unique educational opportunities to obtain practical experience in projects related to all aspects of space-based mission experiments. Since these opportunities are relevant to the length of time required to complete master's and PhD programs, they present students with an excellent opportunity to acquire hands-on experience prior to entering the Canadian job market.

This AO is consistent with the terms and conditions of the CSA Class Grant and Contribution (G&C) Program to Support Research, Awareness and Learning in Space Science and Technology – Research Component.

Applicants are asked to read the following AO thoroughly before submitting their applications. This AO was prepared to help applicants complete the application process, and outlines key elements, including mandatory criteria for eligibility, details on eligible projects and the selection process. In the event of any discrepancies between this AO and the individual funding agreements governing a project, the latter document(s) will take precedence.

2. AO Objective

The objective of this AO, which is linked to the CSA G&C Program objectives, is to support Canadian university research projects that offer hands-on experience in space-like missions to Canadian HQP and more precisely to students and young researchers (PDFs) needed in the marketplace.

3. Eligibility Criteria

3.1 Eligible Recipients

  • Canadian universities

3.2 Eligible Projects

To be eligible, it is mandatory that a project address the following elements, which are further described in Sections 3.2.1 to 3.2.7. For instance, projects must include:

  • Involvement of Canadian HQP in a space-like mission through training activities;
  • A planned field campaign at an analogue site, the use of specific ground-based infrastructure or a planned suborbital/orbital flight during the period covered by the grant agreement;
  • A training plan;
  • Activities related to specific research priorities identified for this FAST AO;
  • A funding request falling into one of the three identified categories;
  • Activities that will be linked to CSA G&C Program Objectives;
  • The use of a space technology during a suborbital flight, during fieldwork or at a ground-based infrastructure.
3.2.1 Eligible HQP

For this AO, Canadian HQP includes:

  • Undergraduate students;
  • Graduate students (master's and PhD levels);
  • Post-doctoral fellows (PDFs).
3.2.2 Eligible Research Platforms, Ground-based Infrastructure and Analogue Sites

The following platforms, ground-based infrastructures or field sites will be considered for the implementation of projects, either in Canada or abroad:

3.2.2.1 Suborbital/Orbital Platforms
  • Stratospheric and/or high-altitude balloons;
  • Aircraft and/or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle;
  • Sounding rockets; and
  • Nanosatellites or CubeSats (maximum mass of 10 kg).
3.2.2.2 Field Sites
  • Analogue sites that replicate some features and/or processes that could be found on Mars, the Moon, and other planetary bodies and asteroids.
3.2.2.3 Ground-based Infrastructure
  • Terrestrial prototypes of stationary or mobile planetary exploration surface structure e.g., planetary rover, landers;
  • Remote astronomy observatory infrastructure;
  • Remote sensing infrastructure located in isolated and remote environments;
  • Microgravity simulation infrastructure (centrifuge, drop tower, rotating bioreactor, radiation exposure facility);
  • Environmental test chambers, including those simulating the pressure, temperature, humidity, wind, atmospheric composition, and/or regolith environment of planetary bodies.

Annex A presents further details on research platforms, ground-based infrastructure or analogue sites eligible for projects related to Earth system science, solar terrestrial sciences or space life science. For these three research disciplines, no other infrastructure than those listed in Annex A will be considered as eligible.

3.2.3 FAST AO Research Priorities

To be eligible, projects for which this AO provides support must provide hands-on training experience to Canadian HQP through a space-like mission focusing on one or more of the six research disciplines and at least one of the research priorities listed in Table 1.

Research Disciplines FAST AO Research Priorities
Satellite engineering Satellite and spacecraft systems, components, environments and operations; system engineering techniques; mechanical design; communication system engineering.
Space life science Research that has as main objective to better understand or characterize the risks to human spaceflight, to develop novel countermeasure strategies against those risks, or to develop improved diagnostic or treatment techniques. Such risks are described in Annex A.
Space astronomy Astronomical investigations and development of prototypes of astronomical instruments that address space science objectives identified in the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) Long Range Plan (e.g. dark energy, exoplanets, wide-field UV-visible-infrared imaging, high-energy astrophysics, cosmology, etc.) requiring for testing the use of balloons, nanosats or remote observatory infrastructures.
Planetary exploration
  • Planetary science and technology investigationsFootnote 1 that address objectives identified in the 2009 Canadian Scientific Priorities for the Global Exploration Strategy document (i.e. the 6th Canadian Space Exploration Workshop report).
  • Science and technology investigations to take place in the context of an international Mars Sample Return (MSR) Analogue Mission deployment in November 2016. Details of the opportunity, site and schedule are provided in Annex C.
Earth system science

Remote sensing of atmospheric composition and dynamics, clouds and precipitation, soil moisture and freeze/thaw state, hydrology, land cover, biomass fires, snow and ice, primarily in Canada. Eligible project may include the following activities:

  • Measurements, using existing instruments with proven capabilities, for the purpose of validating data and derived products from active satellite missions; and
  • Measurements, using innovative instruments that show promise for future satellite missions, for the purpose of demonstrating the capabilities of the instrument(s) and the scientific value of the observations.
Solar-terrestrial science

In situ measurements or remote sensing of energetic particles, magnetic fields, electric fields, and geospace interactions with the neutral atmosphere. Eligible projects may include the following activities:

  • Measurements, using existing instruments with proven capabilities, for the purpose of validating data and derived products from active satellite missions; and
  • Measurements, using innovative instruments that show promise for future satellite missions, for the purpose of demonstrating the capabilities of the instrument(s) and the scientific value of the observations.
3.2.4 Training Plan

Proposals must include a detailed training plan that outlines how hands-on experience will enable Canadian HQP to develop some or all of the following skills:

  • Project management (resourcing, scheduling, compliance with budgets);
  • Industrial design;
  • Mechanical, optical or electrical engineering systems;
  • Payload assembly, integration, testing and operation;
  • Software development;
  • Data analysis;
  • Interpersonal communication and leadership; and/or
  • Problem solving.

The level and content of training should be appropriate to the research discipline, whether it is related to science or engineering, and should include opportunities for interaction and collaboration with other researchers inside and outside the organization, where appropriate.

The CSA strongly encourages collaborative research activities involving academia, industry, and foreign researchers. In collaborative research activities involving industry, HQP training may be enhanced by exposure to an industrial working environment. Similarly, industry personnel may benefit from being involved in academic research.

3.2.5 Funding

Eligible projects will have to fall within one of the following categories, which are further described in Section 6.1:

  • Category A: Maximum grant of $500,000 for projects including, for example, significant space technology development activities or large numbers of Canadian HQP.
  • Category B: Maximum grant value of $200,000 for projects including, for example, minor space technology development activities.
3.2.6 Links to CSA G&C Program Objectives

To be eligible, projects supported under this AO must contribute to at least one of the following CSA G&C Program objectives:

  • Support the development of science and technology relevant to the priorities of the CSA and particularly those defined specifically for this AO;
  • Foster the continuing development of a critical mass of researchers and highly qualified people in Canada in areas relevant to the priorities of the CSA;
  • Support information gathering, studies and research related to space.
3.2.7 Other Information on Eligible Projects

As reflected in the selection criteria entitled "Fidelity of the space experience," in Table 2 of Section 5.2, end-to-end projects are highly encouraged. An end-to-end project usually includes the following activities:

  • Project/mission planning, management and operation;
  • Feasibility assessment;
  • Technical requirements definition, design, construction, integration and testing of innovative instruments or technologies that show promise for future satellite missions;
  • Technology commissioning, calibrating and validating;
  • Airborne, space-based and ground-based campaigns:
    • To demonstrate technical capabilities of the instruments;
    • To demonstrate scientific value of the new observations;
    • To enhance scientific understanding of the processes being observed;
  • Flight operations and technology recovery or field deployment management; and
  • Activities related to experiments, such as collecting and analyzing data.

Applicants from different universities could present separate proposals for the same flight or field mission, but each proposal must have distinct technology development activities involving Canadian HQP.

Applicants are not allowed to break down a project into numerous phases in order to obtain more than the maximum grant. Furthermore, even if the maximum funding for one project is not reached, the completion of a funded phase does not automatically guarantee funding of the remaining phases.

3.3 Access to Foreign Suborbital Platforms

Through this AO, the CSA is soliciting proposals that require, among others, the use of suborbital platforms. Applicants may take advantage of several flight opportunities that could be free of charge. Those opportunities, outlined in Annex B, are:

  1. Potential Access to the Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES) Stratospheric Balloons (free of charge);
  2. Access to Sounding-Rocket, Balloon and Cubesat Launches through the European Space Agency (ESA) Education Program.

4. Applications

4.1 Required Documentation

The application must include the following:

  • A complete typed original application form (Word Document - 84 KB template) completed and signed by the duly authorized representative;
  • Two hard copies of the proposal;
  • A copy of the document(s) confirming the legal name of the applicant;
  • Letters from other funding contributors confirming their contributions, if applicable;
  • Declaration on Confidentiality, Access to Information Act and Privacy Act form signed by the duly authorized representative (refer to the Applicant Declaration on Confidentiality, Access to Information Act and Privacy Act section included in the application form);
  • For organizations in Quebec, M-30 Supporting Documentation form completed and signed by the duly authorized representative (refer to the M-30 form for organizations in Quebec included in the application form); and
  • A single PDF-formatted file containing copies (identical to the paper copies) of all the above-requested documents with all security features disabled on standard electronic media (USB memory key, CD, or DVD). The proposal must be included in the file as a searchable PDF-formatted document (PDF/A-1a format preferred). If there is any discrepancy between the hard and the soft copies, the hard copy takes precedence.

It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that his/her application complies with all relevant federal, provincial and territorial legislation and municipal bylaws.

Applications must be mailed to the CSA at the following address:

FAST AO
c/o Martin Lebeuf
Head, Academic Development
Space Science & Technology
Canadian Space Agency
6767 Route de l'Aéroport
Saint-Hubert, Quebec J3Y 8Y9

Applicants must also take note of the following:

  • Proposals must be received at the CSA no later than 5:00 p.m. (EDT), October 16, 2015.
  • Applications sent by email will not be accepted.
  • Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Questions and answers related to this AO will be posted on the CSA website in the FAQ section of this AO (see Section 9). The CSA will answer questions received before October 2, 2015.

4.2 Service Standards for this AO – Complete Applications

Applicants will be notified in writing of decisions regarding their application. Selected applications will be announced on the CSA website. The CSA has set the following service standards for delays in processing requests, acknowledgements of receipt, funding decisions and payment procedures.

Acknowledgement: The CSA's goal is to acknowledge receipt of proposals within two weeks following the AO's closing date.

Decision: The CSA's goal is to respond to the proposal within fourteen weeks of the AO's closing date and to send a grant agreement for signature within four weeks after formal approval of the proposal.

Payment: The CSA's goal is to issue payment within four weeks of the successful fulfillment of the requirements outlined in the grant agreement.

Compliance with these service standards is a shared responsibility. Applicants must submit all required documentation in a timely fashion.

5. Evaluation

5.1 Eligibility Criteria

Applications will first be submitted to an eligibility assessment to verify if each of them:

  • Represents an eligible recipient as defined in Section 3.1;
  • Represents an eligible project as defined in Sections 3.2 and 3.3; and
  • Meets program funding provisions defined in Section 6.1.

5.2 Evaluation Criteria

Once the eligibility assessment is completed, applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Benefits to Canada;
  • Results;
  • Resources;
  • Project feasibility; and
  • Risk and risk mitigation strategies.

Table 2 below shows the definition and a breakdown of all selection criteria, which are further described in Annex D. Applicants should carefully address each of them when writing their proposals.

Table 2. Definition and Breakdown of Selection Criteria

1. Benefits to Canada

Min. score: 20

1.1 Advancement of new knowledge and technology

Max. score: 15

This criterion evaluates the originality of the research and its probable impact and potential to advance knowledge in the field of space science and/or technology, directly or indirectly.

1.2 Relevance to FAST AO research priorities

Max. score: 15

This criterion evaluates relevance of the project to at least one of the FAST AO research priorities listed in Section 3.2.3.

2. Results

Min. score: 20

2.1 Relevance of experience, knowledge and professional skills acquired by Canadian HQP to the Canadian space sector

Max. score: 15

This criterion is used to assess the degree to which the experience, knowledge and professional skills targeted in HQP training are desired by the Canadian space sector (industry, academia or government).

2.2 Fidelity of the space experience

Max. score: 15

This criterion evaluates the degree to which the project is space-like, as this will enhance the fidelity of training.

3. Resources

Min. score: 8

3.1 Quality and experience of the team

Max. score: 10

This criterion evaluates the quality of the project team, its combination of expertise, and its ability to carry out the research project and provide the proposed training activities.

3.2 Interaction between Canadian HQP and researchers from different disciplines

Max. score: 5

This criterion evaluates the interaction between Canadian HQP and researchers from different disciplines, occupations and organizations.

4. Project Feasibility

Min. score: 6

4.1 Clarity and completeness of the research, training and mentoring plans

Max. score: 15

This criterion evaluates the clarity, completeness and feasibility of the research, training and mentoring plans, with the roles and responsibilities, contribution and level of involvement of each team member clearly identified.

5. Risk and Mitigation Strategies

Min. score: 4

5.1 Project risks (financial, managerial, environmental and technical) and mitigation strategies

Max. score: 10

This criterion evaluates key risks associated with the project and the mitigation strategies for each risk.

5.3 Evaluation Process

Only applications that have passed the eligibility assessment listed in Section 5.1 will be given further consideration.

Once the eligibility criteria are confirmed, evaluators will assess the screened applications according to the criteria listed in Section 5.2. Evaluators shall be experts in the fields relevant to the applications and may include representatives of Canada and other countries, and representatives of other government and non-government agencies and organizations. If applicable, a multidisciplinary evaluation committee will be formed when applications from different disciplines are competing in order to provide a uniform final score and ranking of proposals. An application must receive an overall minimum score of 70% as well as minimum specified thresholds to be considered for funding.

Before a final decision is made, the CSA's Program Manager responsible for this AO may seek input and advice from other organizations, including (but not limited to) federal, provincial, territorial and municipal government agencies and organizations.

6. Funding

6.1 Available Funding and Duration

Payments of transfer will be done through grant agreements. Each of them will cover a period of up to three years to allow successful applicants (recipients) to complete their training and project objectives. The total funding available under this AO is $6 million: $4 million allocated for Category A projects, and $2 million for Category B projects. The two categories of funding are:

  • Category A for projects including, for example, significant space technology development activities or large numbers of Canadian HQP. It covers proposals in which a total amount up to $500,000 per project is requested. The maximum amount available per year is $200,000.
    • This category is for a project that includes, for example, development of a new prototype instrument or advanced space system, and/or a high-fidelity end-to-end mission simulation. It could include the development of a new space technology or a significant improvement of an existing space technology as well as testing/validating it during a flight, during a deployment to a remote site, during fieldwork, or in a simulated space environment.
  • Category B for projects including, for example, minor space technology development activities. It covers proposals in which a total amount up to $200,000 per project is requested.
    • It could include testing/validating a new space technology during a flight, during a deployment to a remote site, during fieldwork or in a simulated space environment. The maximum amount available per year is $100,000.

The following table explains the total envelope for each category:

Total envelope Maximum CSA grant per proposal Maximum duration of grant agreement Maximum government assistance
Category A $4 million $500,000 36 months 100%
Category B $2 million $200,000 36 months 100%

Projects will be selected based on their ranking scores and funding category. However, the CSA will ensure to fund at least one project per research discipline defined in Section 3.2.3. Unused funding from either category will be transferable to the other. The overall number of grants awarded and their funding level will depend on the availability of funds.

Before each installment, the CSA Program Manager will reassess the recipient's eligibility and review the recipient's progress report. While the duration of proposed projects should not exceed three years, a recipient's grant agreement may be amended to allow a recipient to re-fly or use its payload/technology during an additional flight mission or fieldwork campaign. The grant agreement would then be amended under the same terms and conditions as those set out in the original grant agreement. Under such amendment, additional funding to support travel and living expenses may be made available to a recipient, subject to the availability of funds and an evaluation of the justification provided by the recipient.

Given the objectives of this AO and the limited available budget, a Principal Investigator (PI) could only submit one proposal in response to this AO (although an institution may apply more than once). Multiple submissions from an institution cannot be for the same project or mission. However, two or more PIs from different institutions can apply separately for the same flight or space-like mission if their applications concern the development of distinct technologies.

Approved proposals will be eligible for a total amount of government assistance (federal, provincial, territorial and municipal) of up to 100% of total project costs.

To determine the amount of funding to be allocated, consideration will be given to the availability of CSA funds, the total cost of the project, and the other confirmed sources of funds provided by other stakeholders and the applicant. The CSA reserves the right to reject any proposals or reduce the amount of the grants or the contributions at its entire discretion.

Applicants must identify all sources of funding in their applications and confirm this information in a funding agreement if the project is selected for funding. Upon completion of a project, the recipient must also disclose all sources of funding.

6.2 Eligible Costs

Eligible costs are direct expenses that are associated with the delivery of the approved project and that are required to achieve the expected results of the project. Expenses will be covered subject to the applicant signing a funding agreement, in the form of a grant, with the CSA.

Eligible costs for grants under this AO are the following:

  • Access fees;
  • Accommodation and meal allowances;
  • Acquisition, development and printing of materials;
  • Acquisition or rental of equipment (a maximum of 30% of the grant for laboratory instruments);
  • Aircraft and watercraft charter services;
  • Bursaries;
  • Consultant services;
  • Costs for carrying out environmental screening and/or impact studies;
  • Costs related to obtaining security clearance;
  • Data acquisition;
  • Data management;
  • Laboratory analysis services;
  • Licence and permit fees;
  • Launcher services;
  • Marketing and printing services;
  • Materials and supplies;
  • Overhead (administrative) costs (not to exceed 10% of the grant value);
  • Participation fees at conferences, committees and events;
  • PST, HST and GST net of any rebate to which the recipient is entitled and the reimbursement of any taxes for goods and services acquired in a foreign country net of any rebate or reimbursement received in the foreign country;
  • Publication and communication services;
  • Registration fees;
  • Salaries and benefits;
  • Training;
  • Translation services;
  • Travel; and
  • Tuition fees.

7. Funding Agreements

7.1 Payments

The CSA and each successful applicant (the recipient) will sign a funding agreement. This is a condition for any payment made by the CSA with respect to the approved project.

Payments will be made in a lump sum or instalments as described in the signed agreement. Grant funding agreements will include a clause stipulating the recipient's obligation to confirm, once a year in the case of multi-year agreements, their eligibility for the G&C Program – Research Component, and inform the CSA in writing of any changes to the conditions used in determining their eligibility for this component.

7.2 Audit

The recipient of a funding agreement shall keep proper records of all documentation related to the funded project, for the duration of the project and for six (6) years after the completion date of the project, in the event of an audit. This documentation shall be available upon request.

7.3 Conflict of Interest

In the funding agreement, the recipient will certify that any current or former public office holder or public servant it employs complies with the provisions of the relevant Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for Public Office Holders and the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector respectively.

7.4 Intellectual Property

All intellectual property developed by the recipient in the course of the project shall vest in the recipient.

7.5 Organizations in Quebec

An organization in Quebec whose operations are partially or fully funded by the province of Quebec may be subject to the Act Respecting the Ministère du Conseil exécutif, R.S.Q., Chapter M-30.

Under Sections 3.11 and 3.12 of this Act, certain entities/organizations, as defined in the meaning of the Act, such as municipal bodies, school bodies, or public agencies, must obtain authorization from the Secrétariat aux affaires intergouvernementales canadiennes du Québec (SAIC), as indicated by the Act, before signing any funding agreement with the Government of Canada, its departments or agencies, or a federal public agency.

Consequently, any entity that is subject to the Act is responsible for obtaining such authorization before signing any funding agreement with the Government of Canada.

Quebec applicants must complete, sign and include the M-30 Supporting Documentation form with their application.

7.6 Publications and Communication

Subject to the terms and conditions of the grant agreement, the CSA may request to receive a copy of publications arising from the work as well as be informed in advance of significant press releases or media interest resulting from the work.

7.7 Outcomes and Performance Measurement

This AO is expected to contribute to the following outcomes:

  • Increase the skills of Canadian HQP in space-related research disciplines;
  • Expand knowledge in space science and/or technology areas of priority via research projects;
  • Establish and/or maintain partnerships, particularly with industry and foreign researchers;
  • Leverage partner contributions; and
  • Increase the number of Canadian HQP active in space-related research disciplines.

By contributing to maintaining excellence in key capabilities and to inspiring Canadians, this AO will address key principles of Canada's Space Policy Framework. It will enable Canadian HQP to be well prepared to participate in future space missions while developing their skills and acquiring new scientific and technical knowledge, thus helping ensure the strategic and sustained utilization of space in Canada.

8. Privacy Notice Statement

The CSA will comply with the federal Access to Information Act and Privacy Act with respect to applications received. By submitting personal information, an applicant is consenting to its collection, use and disclosure in accordance with the following Privacy Notice Statement, which explains how the applicant's information will be managed.

Necessary measures have been taken to protect the confidentiality of the information provided by the applicant. This information is collected under the authority of the CSA Class G&C Program to Support Research, Awareness and Learning in Space Science and Technology – Research Component, and will be used for the evaluation and selection of proposals. Personal information (such as contact information and biographical information) included in the rejected proposals will be stored in a CSA Personal Information Bank for five (5) years and then destroyed (Personal Information File no. ASC PPU045). Personal information included in the successful proposals will be kept along with the proposal results for historical purposes. These data are protected under the Privacy Act. According to the Privacy Act, the data linked to an individual and included in the proposal being evaluated can be accessed by the specific concerned individual who has rights with respect to this information. This individual may, upon request, (1) be given access to his/her data and (2) have incorrect information corrected or have a notation attached.

Applicants shall note that for all agreements over $25,000, information related to the funding agreement (amount, grant or contribution, name of the recipient and project location) will be made available to the public on the CSA website.

For additional information on privacy matters prior to submitting a proposal, please contact:

Access to Information and Privacy
Canadian Space Agency
Telephone: 450-926-4866
Email: asc.aiprp-atip.csa@canada.ca

9. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

It is the responsibility of the applicants to obtain clarification of the requirements contained herein, if necessary, before submitting an application.

For any questions related to the AO, applicants shall use the following generic email address asc.lecedessetc-thegandccoe.csa@canada.ca. Questions and answers related to this AO will be posted on the CSA website in the FAQ section of this AO. The CSA will respond to questions received before 5:00 p.m. (EDT), October 2, 2015.

At any point, applicants are welcome to share with the CSA their comments or suggestions regarding the AO, the program or the process. Applicants may either use the generic email address or the generic web-based Comments and Suggestions Box.

Question 1: I am interested in submitting a proposal to upcoming FAST 2015 and was wondering if I can serve as the PI on the proposal if I am a PDF at NASA Goddard in Maryland, USA? However, all of the HQP will be students (undergraduate and graduate) at XXXX University in Canada. All of the funding will also be used at xx University.

Answer 1: Only Canadian universities are eligible. Most of the time in Canada, a Principal Investigator must be a faculty member, and should therefore have an appointment at the university.

Question 2: In the AO it states that the following will be supported:

3.2.2.1 Suborbital/Orbital Platforms
Aircraft and/or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle;

However, there is no mention of aircraft in any of the following documentation. Is the use of the parabolic flight aircraft supported in this AO? If yes, which aircraft- Novespace or zero-G?

Answer 2: The use of any parabolic aircraft is supported through this AO. It is the responsibility of the applicant to secure access to the such flights and to include associated costs in the proposal.

Question 3: In section 6.2 there is a list of eligible costs under the AO. If there are other costs that are "direct expenses that are associated with the delivery of the approved project and that are required to achieve the expected results of the project" are these eligible? If so, how can it be established that these costs are eligible?

Answer 3: Only the costs listed in section 6.2 are eligible costs for grants under this AO.

Question 4: I am faculty at a Canadian university. My understanding of the AO is that students under my supervision (e.g. MASc, etc.) qualify as Canadian HQP and are eligible to participate regardless of whether or not they are Canadian citizens, is that correct?

Answer 4: Training activities proposed by applicants should target HQP that have Canadian citizenship or permanent residency.

Question 5: I would like to test my space tether system using the CSA's parabolic flight facilities. I would be most grateful if you would kindly advise on how to secure the access for my project.

Answer 5: The CSA does not have parabolic flight facilities. It is the responsibility of the applicant to secure access to parabolic flights from any parabolic flight provider, and to include associated costs in the proposal.

Question 6: I currently hold a FAST grant. There is a new FAST call out.  I know that one cannot apply for two FAST grants on one call, but can I apply for another at this call while already holding a grant?

Answer 6: A FAST grant recipient can apply to the FAST AO 2015.

Question 7: I'm just wondering, as I'm trying to make an application for the FAST grant. We are proposing some experiments in microgravity, but I read this:

  • Stratospheric and/or high-altitude balloons
  • Aircraft and/or unmanned aerial vehicle
  • Sounding rockets
  • Nanosatellites or cubesats (maximum mass of 10 kg)

Does that mean any experiment must work on a cubesat? Do we provide the cubesat, are there some that are set up for experiments? Is there anything on the ISS?  I would appreciate any guidance you could provide.

Answer 7: Not all experiments need to work on a cubesat. It is the applicant's responsibility to select and use the appropriate suborbital platform required to fly a payload when the proposed project requires such a flight. If a cubesat is to be used, its flight must occur within the period of the grant agreement. The applicant has the entire responsibility to find the appropriate cubesat launch provider with whom a flight will be secured. It is possible to launch a cubesat from the ISS. It is the applicant's responsibility to contact and make arrangement with an organization that offers such a service.

Question 8: Would a ground-based satellite validation site located at East Trout Lake, SK (54°21'N, 104°59'W) be considered an eligible site for the FAST 2015 AO?

Answer 8: A site located at East Trout Lake, Saskatchewan (54°21'N, 104°59'W) is not an eligible for the FAST AO 2015.

Question 9: My proposed project will involve international collaborators. Could you clarify which of the following are eligible: international air ticket and associated travel cost, accommodation, salary, research expenses (use of foreign facilities, acquire an equipment from the collaborator, development of a subsystem by foreign collaborator)?

Answer 9: The following expenses of collaborators whether they are from Canada or foreign countries are eligible if they fit within the eligible costs mentioned in Section 6.2 of the FAST AO 2015:

  • International air ticket and associated travel and accommodation expenses,
  • Access fees and other expenses related to the use of foreign facilities.

By "acquisition of equipment, including software and sub-systems", we mean equipment acquired exclusively for the project.

  • Salary of foreign collaborators are not eligible. The acquisition of equipment or the development of sub-systems by collaborators are not eligible unless the ownership of such equipment or sub-system is transferred to the applicant.

Question 10: The AO for FAST 2015 mentions that a PI may only submit one proposal in response to this AO. Is it possible for a faculty member to be PI on one proposal and to join as Co-I on another PI's (at the sameinstitution) proposal, considering these 2 proposals are for entirely separate projects/missions?

Answer 10: The AO text states: "a PI could only submit one proposal in response to this AO (although an institution may apply more than once)."

There is no restriction on the number of proposals in which a person may participate as a Co-Investigator (Co-I) or supporter; however the same person should not appear in two proposals where its planned work effort is essential to the success of the projects and is in irreconcilable schedule conflict, as this would undermine the feasibility of both proposals.

Question 11: I'm trying to understand the eligibility of ground-based sites for the FAST 2015 AO. Could you please provide a map or other clarification of the statement "Other eligible sites and infrastructures are located in the north of the southern limit of the discontinuous permafrost zone"? For example, which of the following Environment Canada Observing Stations would be eligible?

Answer 11:

  • Alert (82°28'N, 62°30'W): Eligible
  • Behchoko (62°48'N, 116°93'W): Eligible
  • Chibougamau (49°41'N, 74°20'W): Not eligible
  • East Trout Lake (54°21'N, 104°59'W): Not eligible
  • Fraserdale (49°53'N, 81°34'W): Not eligible
  • Lac Labiche (54°57'N, 112°27'W): Not eligible.

Discontinuous permafrost is defined as "permafrost occurring in some areas beneath the exposed land surface throughout a geographic region where other areas are free of permafrost". Source: van Everdingen, Robert, ed. 1998 revised May 2005. Multi-language glossary of permafrost and related ground-ice terms. Boulder, CO: National Snow and Ice Data Center/World Data Center for Glaciology.

Question 12: The FAST 2015 application form asks for NSERC Form 100 for the applicants. That form is now obsolete, may we use the current CCV forms?

Answer 12: Yes.

Question 13: Can the FAST AO be used to provide funding to recruit students and PDF dedicated to data analysis of CSA space missions similar as ASTROSAT/UVIT?

Answer 13: No, there are other funding mechanisms existing at the CSA dedicated to CSA missions.

Question 14: Is the International Space Station (ISS) an eligible research platform for FAST 2015, if the applicant is able to secure a flight opportunity within the period of the grant agreement?

Answer 14: No, but the ISS could be used as a vehicle to launch nanosatellites.

Question 15: Can I ignore Section 5 as far as the Application Form is concerned and put all of the requested material from that point on in the separate document "Proposal"- except maybe for the 100 word summary?

Answer 15: Only one document must be presented but could include two separate parts: the first one must be the CSA Application Form including the completed Section 1 to 4, while the second part could be a Word document to be integrated in the first part and presenting all information required in Section 5 to 10 of the CSA Application Form.

Question 16: Is there an agreement with the Europeen Space Agency (ESA) that would give free access to Novespace parabolic flight campaigns for FAST projects?

Answer 16: Yes, there is an agreement with ESA that provides a free access to ESA parabolic flight campaigns operated by Novespace. More information on this opportunity can be found. Canada is a ESA cooperating state. Since the CSA contributes to the European Programme for Life and Physical Sciences in Space (ELIPS), Canadian researchers have a free access to parabolic flights provided through this program. However, all costs that are not related to a flight campaign, such as expenses related to the development of a scientific instrument, salaries, student stipends, travel and accommodation expenses, are under the applicant's responsibility but such could be eligible for a FAST grant. Given that access to these parabolic flights depend entirely on the ESA selection process, an applicant should consider the risk that its experiment would not be selected. In its proposal, an applicant must then describe a risk mitigation strategy to ensure that a parabolic flight campaign will be conducted during the period covered by a FAST grant agreement. The lack of a credible risk mitigation strategy can lead to the rejection of the applicant's FAST proposal.

Question 17: Our group is looking at applying for the FAST grant in order to test a new medical device. Would those with M.D. degrees be included as highly qualified personnel? Also, would you happen to have a sample of a past grant that you felt was of exceptional quality?

Answer 17: Students registrered in a program to obtain an M.D. degree or PDF with an M.D. degree are considered as HQP Professionals with a M.D. degree are not considered as HQP for the FAST AO 2015 (see Eligible HQP on Section 3.2.1 of the FAST AO). We cannot make publicly available proposals for which grants have been awarded without prior permission from the grantees.

Question 18: Is a project on the development of software and innovative techniques of observation, reduction, analysis and data visualization with an astronomical instrument involving a ground-based telescope eligible under the FAST AO?

Answer 18: Yes, provided that the instrument in question demonstrates a credible potential for future space applications and that the proposed project meets the criteria established in the FAST AO as for its relevance to the needs of the Canadian Space Program.

Question 19: I am interested in applying to the FAST opportunity, and am planning to involve international collaborators in the proposal. The Application Form states: "Please complete and attach the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Personal Data Form (Form 100) for each member of the team." Does this apply to collaborators, or just the PI and Co-Is? Could we use NSERC CCV Form instead of Form 100 which is obsolete?

Answer 19: NSERC Personal Data Form (Form 100) or CCV Form should be completed for PI and Co-Is. Additional information on collaborators would be useful if they are planned to play key roles in training activities.

Question 20: Are there any standard restrictions when preparing the proposal e.g. page limit, page format, margins etc.

Answer 20: Standard restrictions are mentioned in the different sections of the Application Form.

Question 21: Are there examples of already funded FAST proposals that you can publicly share? If not, is there a list of previously funded FAST grants anywhere?

Answer 21: FAST proposals are not made publicly available. There is no list of previous FAST grantees but you can find FAST grants awarded following the FAST AO 2011 on the CSA Disclosure of Grants and Contributions Awards Web site and for the FAST AO 2013.

Question 22: Would the International Space Station (ISS) be an eligible platform for FAST 2015? One of the answers to a previous question indicates that a cubesat can be launched from ISS but does not specify if the ISS itself can be used as a platform.

Answer 22: The ISS is not considered as an eligible platform other than to be used to launch nanosatellites.

Question 23: Are adjunct faculty eligible to serve as the PI on FAST 2015 applications?

Answer 23: FAST grants are awarded to universities not the university member staff. It is the university's responsibility to decide who could act as a PI within its member staff.

Question 24: As mentioned in Section 8- Detailed Budget of the Application Form, it is said that there is a cap of 30% of the grant for the acquisition of laboratory instruments. What is considered a laboratory instrument?

We are planning on designing and building an infrared camera as part of our proposal. This camera will be used on a remote observatory. The imaging array and its support electronics are off-the-shelf products. We will design and build a cryostat to house the array. Is that all considered part of the laboratory instrument budget?

Answer 24: For the FAST AO, laboratory instrument is defined as 'off-the-shelf' instruments and accessories used for, but not limited to, measuring, indicating, recording or controlling physical or chemical qualities or quantities or images or other characteristics or property of a substance or material.

If a unique laboratory instrument being built specifically for the FAST funded project has the potential to be used as a future space instrument, then it will not be subject to the 30% maximum limitation of eligible expenditures for laboratory instruments.

Question 25: Is the NASA Haughton-Mars station at Devon Island, Nunavut an appropriate analogue site for space life science projects, and particularly for behavioural health and human performance research?

Answer 25: It is the applicant's responsibility to identify and justify the appropriate field site to conduct its research project.

Question 26: In Section 10, we are asked to provide letters of support from each co-investigator listed and letters of intent from organizations providing other sources of funding or in-kind contributions. Can these letters have electronic signatures or be printed scanned versions, or are original signatures required?

Answer 26: These letters could have electronic signatures. The printed scanned versions should be integrated in the proposal.

Question 27: Can a CSA employee be included as a collaborator to provide technical expertise for ground-based infrastructure?

Answer 27: In the context of the FAST AO 2015, participation of a CSA employee as a collaborator is not allowed.

Question 28: Regarding overhead costs, are they included in or in addition to the maximum requested funds?

Answer 28: The overhead costs must be included in the amount requested from the CSA. For example, if an applicant requests $200,000, overhead costs (if any) must be included in the amount.

Question 29:

  1. Can CSA FAST Funds be used to support foreign co-investigators or collaborators expenses such as their travel costs? their student stipends?
  2. Regarding the actual FAST application and the section Detailed Project Description, are we supposed to attach a separate document of the proposed research project which includes all of the elements below this Section ie 1. , 2. 2.1 etc.?

Or can we just cut and paste such elements into the FAST AO application form?

Answer 29:

  1. FAST funds must be used to support expenses related to training Canadian students and PDF as well as R&D activities in Canada (except for travel expenses required outside Canada). Such funds can't be used to support the foreign Co-Is or collaborators student stipends. On exceptional basis and only when essential to the project success, Co-Is or collaborators travel expenses could be eligible. No overhead costs should then be charged by the foreign Co-Is or collaborators institutions.
  2. Both approaches are acceptable. The applicant can cut and paste into the Section "Detailed Project Description" all elements related the project and particularly the one related to Section 1 "Introduction" and 2 "Proposed Research and Training Project".

Annex A - Eligible Sites and Infrastructures for Earth System Science, Solar-Terrestrial Science, and Life Science Research Projects

This annex presents sites and infrastructures that are considered as eligible for projects related to the Earth system sciences, solar-terrestrial sciences, and life sciences disciplines.

I. Eligible Sites and Infrastructures for Earth System Sciences and Solar-Terrestrial Sciences:

The following sites listed in the 2013 Geospace Observatory (GO) Canada – Instruments and Data Announcement Opportunity:

Site latitude (°) longitude (°)
Churchill 58.7 -94.2
Dawson 64.0 -139.1
Fort McMurray 56.7 -111.2
Fort Simpson 61.8 -121.9
Fort Smith 60.0 -112.0
Gillam 56.4 -94.6
Island Lake 53.9 -94.7
Pinawa 50.2 -96.0
Rabbit Lake 58.2 -103.7
Rankin Inlet 64.5 -92.1
Taloyoak 69.5 -93.6

Other eligible sites and infrastructures are located in the north of the southern limit of the discontinuous permafrost zone, including for instance the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS), Cambridge Bay, NU, and the Polar Environmental Research Laboratory (PEARL), Eureka, NU.

II. For Space Life ScienceFootnote 2

Eligible research platforms, ground-based infrastructure and analogue sites are those that would be required to address one or more of the risks related to human space flights mentioned below in Table 1:

  • Suborbital platforms mentioned in Section 3.2.2.1;
  • Ground-based infrastructure simulating microgravity environment:
    • Drop-Towers, Centrifuge;
    • Microgravity simulation using rotating wall bioreactors (RWBs) or clinostats
      • Relevant microbial, cellular, or whole-animal based research;
    • Animal models of unloading:
      • Hindlimb suspension model suspending the rear part of rodent's body for short periods and remove the contact of hind limbs with the ground;
    • Radiation exposure facility:
      • Brookhaven National Lab or other specifically designed facilities used to understand or mitigate space radiation risk;
    • Isolated, remote field stations or similar environment:
      • Infrastructure or sites simulating the isolated, confined and extreme environments that occur with human spaceflight. Infrastructure used to conduct bed-rest studies is not eligible for this AO.

Table 1. Eligible Human Health, Behavioural and Performance Risks

Musculoskeletal Mission risk resulting from reduced muscle strength and aerobic capacity, and increased bone fragility. Long-term health risk of space-induced osteoporosis.
Sensorimotor Mission risk of sensory changes/dysfunctions reducing performance.
Ocular Syndrome Mission and long-term health risk of microgravity-induced visual impairment and/or elevated intracranial pressure.
Behavioural Health and Performance Mission and long-term behavioural health and performance risks, for example, associated with stress, issues with team dynamics, long-term risk associated with integration into post-space flight career phase.
Radiation Mission risk due to health and performance impairment associated with radiation damage. Long-term risk of carcinogenesis and degenerative tissue disease due to radiation exposure.
Hypogravity Mission risk associated with adaptation during transit (i.e. long-duration exposure to microgravity) and extra-vehicular activities (EVAs) on the Moon, asteroids, or Mars (vestibular and performance dysfunctions) and long-term risk related to post-flight rehabilitation. Cardiovascular, metabolic, and neurological effects related to space-flight are acceptable within this category.

Annex B - Access to Foreign Suborbital Platforms

A. Potential Access to CNES Stratospheric Balloons

In 2010, the CSA entered into a 10-year agreement with the France's CNES. Under this agreement, the CSA will develop and operate for CNES a mid-latitude facility for launching balloons in Canada (Timmins, Ontario). In exchange, CNES will fly and operate balloons every year for Canada/CSA from different locations in the world where CNES conducts balloon campaigns.

This collaboration with CNES will allow Canada to benefit from CNES technology and expertise, thus maximizing the probability of safe and successful flights, significant scientific findings, while reducing the overall cost to Canadians. According to the CNES/CSA Implementing Agreement, the CSA will be entitled to the following:

  • Fly an average of five (5) payloads on CNES stratospheric balloons per year regardless of where in the world the launch takes place;
  • Two (2) of these five payloads will fly on two dedicated balloons as primary payloads. One of these two primary payloads will have a maximum mass of 1,000 kg, while the second will have a maximum mass of 500 kg; and
  • Three (3) secondary payloads will fly as piggy-back payloads on European gondolas. Each of these three secondary payloads should not have a mass exceeding 50 kg.

In the case of primary payloads, the recipient will have to fly its payload on its own gondola. Neither CNES nor the CSA will be responsible for providing such a gondola, including pointing systems and/or gondola sub-systems (such as power and communication systems). Any proposal requesting access to the CNES's CARMEN pointing gondola will be rejected. However, CNES will provide the telemetry and telecommunications system (TM/TC-SIREN) that will allow the payload communications system to download data to the ground. Information on the TM/TC-SIREN system is available upon request.

In the case of secondary payloads, the recipient must provide a self-contained payload that will not interfere with the European primary payload, unless the secondary payload is part of a pre-established international collaboration project in which the European PI has confirmed access to a CNES balloon flight opportunity. Secondary payloads are opportunity-based; their launch is a function of the volume, mass and power available on a given gondola. Secondary payloads should therefore assume that, until a specific platform has been identified, they will have to provide their own power.

Regarding telecommunications, all gondolas flying with the CNES balloon system (NOSYCA) can use the provided Telecommunication & Telemetry Control (TT&C) SIREN module, which is available to all payloads. However, in the case of secondary payloads, the total bandwidth allocation must be shared by all of the instruments mounted onboard a given gondola. Payloads may also be equipped with their own TT&C system. FAST grantees would then be responsible for demonstrating their system's radio frequency is compatible with NOSYCA. FAST grantees are also responsible for all associated radio communication licenses. All flight hardware is typically recovered within three days after landing, thereby permitting the use of on-board memory for larger sets of data rather than real-time telemetry.

Once a grant is obtained, for any CNES balloon flights, the recipient must fill out a questionnaire providing additional information on its payload and the flight requirements. The recipient will subsequently be responsible for ensuring its payload and its gondola (if appropriate) is ready on time and meets safety and interface requirements, which are outlined in user's manuals and are available upon request. The CSA will carry out an internal technology assessment several months before a CNES balloon campaign to confirm whether or not a proposed payload is ready as planned. The CSA will do its utmost to fly all FAST grant recipient payloads that meet the CSA Safety and Mission Assurance (S&MA), interface and schedule requirements, and are compatible with CNES balloon campaign plans and schedule. However, the CSA cannot guarantee a flight at the location, period of the year or time of day stated in a recipient's proposal.

Applicants interested in utilizing a CNES balloon flight must clearly state so in their application and provide information on their payload as well as their flight preferences (such as period of the year for a flight, launch site and the expected support required by CNES and the CSA).

CNES usually confirms the location of a balloon campaign approximately one year before the campaign. The CNES balloon launch site for 2016 is Timmins, Ontario, at mid-latitude. CNES has not yet decided where its launch campaigns will be held in subsequent years. The other site considered by CNES is Kiruna, Sweden, in the Arctic.

All expenses associated with payload and gondola development, testing, integration and shipping, as well as travel and accommodation before, during and after the launch campaign, are the grant recipient's responsibility. Expenses associated with a CNES balloon launch, flight operation and balloon recovery, as well as the TM/TC system, will be supported by CNES and/or the CSA and therefore should not be included in the budget of the applicant's proposal.

Regarding CNES mission profile, several altitudes are possible when using a CNES stratospheric balloon. These altitudes typically range between 32 and 42 km. Multiple levels during one flight are also possible. The chosen profile is typically a function of the payload's scientific and technical objectives, the total mass of the entire platform as well as the wind parameters on the day of the flight. For flights taking off from Timmins, the path generally follows an eastward or westward direction, depending on the stratospheric winds. The flight must be kept within a 500-km radius flight polygon from the launch site.

For general information on the CSA's balloon program, please refer to the Stratospheric balloons website.

To obtain a copy of the CNES Balloon User Manual, please send a request to: asc.lecedessetc-thegandccoe.csa@canada.ca. This document is subject to change at any time. Notice of such changes will be sent only to organizations that would have officially requested a copy of the document.

B. Student Access to Sounding Rocket, Balloon and Cubesat Launches through ESA

As a Cooperating State of ESA, Canada, and therefore Canadian students, may be eligible for ESA Education Programs and therefore have access to a centrifuge or a drop tower or be able to fly a Cubesat. For more information, visit the ESA website.

Moreover, through ESA and under a bilateral agreement between the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Swedish National Space Board (SNSB), Canadian students have access to the REXUS/BEXUS program, which allows students from universities and higher education colleges across Europe and Canada to conduct scientific and technological experiments on research rockets and balloons. Two rockets and two balloons are launched each year, carrying up to 20 experiments designed and built by student teams. REXUS experiments are launched on an unguided, spin-stabilized rocket powered by an Improved Orion motor with 290 kg of solid propellant. It is capable of taking 40 kg of student experiment modules to an altitude of approximately 90 km. The vehicle has a length of approx. 5.6 m and a body diameter of 35.6 cm. BEXUS experiments are lifted by a balloon with a volume of 12,000  to a maximum altitude of 30 km, depending on total experiment mass (40-100 kg). The flight duration is two to five hours. EuroLaunch, a joint venture involving the Esrange Space Center of the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) and the Mobile Rocket Base (MORABA) of DLR, is responsible for campaign management and operations of the launch vehicles. Experts provide student teams with technical support throughout the project. REXUS and BEXUS are launched from the SSC's Esrange Space Center in northern Sweden. Additional information can be obtained at the REXUS/BEXUS program website.

Annex C - International MSR Analogue Mission Deployment in November 2016

MSR is a goal of the international Mars Exploration Program. Numerous studiesFootnote 3 have considered the advantages of returning samples from known context on Mars for analysis in state-of-the-art laboratories on Earth. The broad science objective of a first MSR mission is to understand Mars history and its past habitability.

This FAST AO solicits proposals for MSR Analogue Mission science investigations and exploration technology investigations. These investigations would be conducted as part of an international field deployment in 2016, offering students the opportunity to broaden their understanding of the scientific, technical, and operational constraints of a landed rover mission.

Investigations proposed in this priority area must be consistent and compatible with:

  1. The overall international MSR Analogue Mission science objectives to characterize the geologic context and history of the site and, using the acquired geologic information, determine the habitability of an ancient environment, assess the biosignature preservation potential within that environment, and seek signs of ancient life within the geologic record; and/or
  2. Exploration technology objectives to develop and test capabilities of instruments, rover systems, coring and/or caching systems that might be used on a potential future MSR mission. Particularly desired for technology advanced system investigations are novel mobility capabilities to access difficult-to-reach places, improvements to rover autonomy and navigation that may allow significant speed-up of surface operations, and novel coring approaches to acquire hard rock (basalt-like) cores under low-power constraints typical of Mars missions; and
  3. The analogue site (see Figures C.1 and C.2) and schedule of the MSR Analogue Mission deployment, as described below (see Table C.1).

The MSR Analogue Mission deployment is planned for three weeks in November 2016 and will take place at a site of inverted stream beds in Utah, USA.

The deployment comprises three possible scenarios that each use remote science and operations teams coordinated by the CSA to target data and acquire samples:

  1. Testing of an integrated CSA rover system;
  2. Data and sample acquisition with hand-carried instruments and coring tools:
    1. To test instrument capabilities and measurement needs (e.g. evaluate instrument resolution/sensitivity and value-added of instrument complements)
    2. To provide a high-fidelity mission-like experience of science operations (focusing on data and sample targeting and acquisition)
    3. To validate science sampling targets by acquiring several nearby cores for comparison with targets
  3. Independent technology advanced system investigations that will take advantage of the available infrastructure and planned extensive scientific validation effort.

The current solicitation is applicable only to scenarios 2 and 3 (i.e. no physical integration of proposed instruments, coring/caching systems, or software on the integrated CSA rover system is planned under this opportunity).

It is anticipated that there will be international participation and that the detailed analogue mission scenarios will be planned with input from all participants, including any teams selected under this AO.

Proposed investigations can include commercial-off-the-shelf technologies to develop requirements for space instruments or systems, minor or major technology development to modify existing prototypes, and/or significant new technology developments. All systems must be field ready by the time of the 2016 field deployment.

Proposals must include support for participation in CSA mission planning and coordination activities, participation in the remote science team (including travel & living), support for the field deployment of their instrument or system in November 2016 (including travel & living, all needed equipment and supplies, power supplies, data storage, etc.), and analysis of data. Data transfer between investigation teams and the CSA in the field (for transmission to the remote science teams) will be via standard media (e.g. USB), and will either use standard data formats (jpeg, etc.), or software will be provided by investigation teams to allow data to be used in science operations. Proposals may include a site visit in advance of the 2016 November deployment.

Proposers of instrument investigations must be willing to share data with other team members, and should be prepared to publish results in a "mission special issue." Sample cores acquired in the field will be documented by the science operations team and distributed by the CSA to participating teams to address sample analysis objectives.

Proposed investigations may include additional objectives, deployments and/or activities for 2017 and 2018 at other sites that advance their proposed objectives.

Table C.1: Key schedule dates and needs for planning purposes

Date Activity Purpose Investigation team to support
Not later than May 2016 Analogue Mission kick-off meeting To present investigations selected through this process and those of other partners. To share detailed information on the site and mission planning process

Participation in the meeting (at CSA HQ, or by webex).

CSA to provide: A template to capture investigation requirements. A document with detailed analogue site information. A detailed schedule for planning activities. First version of spreadsheets that will be used for science operations. Template for information needed by the CSA for field permit acquisition.

From kick-off meeting to September 2016 Monthly planning telecons To develop the analogue scenario Participation in telecons by webex
September 2016 Science operations training 1-2 days training for team members who will participate in remote science operations Participation in science operations training (assumed for planning purposes to be at CSA HQ, or by webex)
October 2016 Analogue Mission Readiness Review To ensure all teams are ready for the field deployment Participation in the meeting (at CSA HQ or by webex).

CSA to provide: Final analogue mission scenario. Field safety handbook

November 2016 Analogue Mission field deployment Implementation of investigations

3 weeks in the field with 1 week for setup, and 2 weeks of science operations in the coordinated Analogue mission.

At least one team member to participate in a remote science operations centre (assumed for planning purposes to be either at CSA HQ or in London, Ontario).

December 2016 Debrief To capture lessons learned from all participants Participation in debrief at CSA HQ (in person or by webex)

Site information:

Figure C.1: The field site is situated near Hanksville, Utah, USA, in the area of Kissing Camel Ridge. Basic amenities such as hotels, restaurants, supermarket and hardware store are available in Hanksville, and it is assumed that field teams will seek accommodation there. The nearest airport is Grand Junction, CO (via Denver, CO).

Figure C.2: An inverted channel in the region

(Credit: Balme M. R. Grindrod P. M. Sefton-Nash E. Davis J. Gupta S. et al. (2015) Aram Dorsum: A Noachian Inverted Fluvial Channel System and Candidate Exomars 2018 Rover Landing Site, 2015 LPSC Abstract #1321, Woodlands, Texas, USA.)

Inverted channels = fossilised river beds

  • Ancient channels filled and lithified
  • Differential erosion results in positive relief
  • Indicative of sedimentary environment
  • Suggestion of similar features on Mars
  • Kissing camel site mineralogy includes carbonates, sulfates and clays

Annex D - Scoring and Weighting

A numerical weight is associated with each criterion. It is strongly recommended that applicants draft their proposals by providing information related to each highest score. Proposals that only or mainly describe the scientific and/or technological merits of their project will have a very low probability of obtaining a grant.

Since the objective of this AO is to train Canadian HQP, the selection criteria relate particularly to the quality of HQP training. High-quality training should attract and equip students for future careers in space science or technology, hence research should benefit Canada (be exciting, original, relevant to future missions and space opportunities), and results should provide the student with experience, knowledge and professional skills that are recognized and sought after in the Canadian space sector (industry, academia or government).

1. Benefits to Canada

  • Max. 30
  • Min. 20

1.1 Advancement of new knowledge and technology

This criterion evaluates the originality of the research and its probable impact and potential to advance our knowledge in the field of space science and/or technology, directly or indirectly.

  • Is the research original and of high intrinsic merit?
  • Does the proposed research have the potential to result in long-term, groundbreaking advances in the field of space science and/or technology? Will the research have broad impact and applications to other fields of study?
  • Have some or all of the objectives already been addressed by a previous, related project? If so, how new are the current stated objectives of the proposed project, and to what degree will they build on previous work and impact our knowledge of space science and/or technology?
  • How will the project contribute to developing and maintaining a robust and experienced workforce within industry, academia, and government in order to continue playing an active role in future space missions?

Poor: The research is not expected to have a significant short- or long-term impact, and/or is a reapplication of previous work. The project lacks novel concepts and will not contribute to advancement of new knowledge in space science and/or technology. (Score: 0)

Average: The research could advance knowledge in the field of space science and/or technology. The work is largely derivative of previous work. (Score: 5)

Good: The probable results will advance knowledge in the field of space science and/or technology. The proposed research involves new or original concepts or methods, and/or builds on previous work. It will contribute to maintaining in Canada a robust and experienced workforce within industry, academia, and government in order to continue playing an active role in future space missions. (Score: 10)

Excellent: The probable results will advance knowledge in the field of space science and/or technology and have a broad, long-term impact beyond the immediate field of study. The proposed research stands out because of its highly innovative or original scientific or technical concepts or methods, and/or builds significantly on previous work. It will contribute to maintaining in Canada a robust and experienced workforce within industry, academia, and government in order to continue playing an active role in future national and international space missions. (Score: 15)

1.2 Relevance to the FAST AO research priorities

This criterion evaluates the relevance of the proposed project to at least one of the research priorities listed in Section 3.2.3.

  • Is the research relevant to FAST AO research priorities?
  • Does the project contribute to the development of new ideas that may be integrated into or enable a future space mission?

Poor: The research is not relevant to any of the FAST AO research priorities listed in Section 3.2.3. (Score: 0)

Average: The research is relevant to a FAST AO research priority listed in Section 3.2.3. (Score: 5)

Good: The research is relevant to a FAST AO research priority listed in Section 3.2.3, and may be integrated into, or enable, a future space mission. (Score: 10)

Excellent: The research is central to a FAST AO research priority listed in Section 3.2.3. It contributes to mission objectives currently under consideration and/or presents solutions to known technology needs, and hence is highly likely to be integrated into a future space mission, or to be used/commercialized by industry. (Score: 15)

2. Results in terms of contribution to the training of Canadian HQP

  • Max. 40
  • Min. 24

2.1 The relevance of experience, knowledge and professional skills acquired by Canadian HQP to the Canadian space sector

This criterion is used to assess the degree to which experience, knowledge and professional skills targeted in HQP training are desired by the Canadian space sector (industry, academia or government).

  • Is it clear what experience, knowledge and professional skills are planned to be acquired by each Canadian HQP?
  • Is this experience, knowledge and professional skillset of value to the space sector?
  • Are these critical to the space sector and difficult to acquire without hands-on experience as provided by the project?
  • Is there a description of how the specialized skills and knowledge acquired would be used in a potential future space mission, and is this need likely on a timeframe relevant to when the Canadian HQP complete their training?
  • Will the professional and technical skills planned to be acquired by HQP increase their mobility from Canadian universities to the marketplace?

Poor: The scientific, technical, and operational knowledge and professional skills acquired by Canadian HQP over the course of the project are not defined, or are unrelated or are irrelevant to the Canadian space sector. It is also not clear how the professional and technical skills planned to be acquired by Canadian HQP will increase their mobility from the university to the marketplace. (Score: 0)

Average: The scientific and/or technical and/or operational knowledge and professional skills to be acquired by Canadian HQP involved in the project are defined to some degree and are relevant to the Canadian space sector. However, it is not clear who would acquire knowledge and skills, what the knowledge or skills would consist of or what purpose they would serve. There is insufficient rationale to demonstrate how the knowledge and professional skills to be acquired are relevant to future space missions. The professional skills and technical skills planned to be acquired by Canadian HQP may increase their mobility from the university to the marketplace. (Score: 7)

Good: The scientific and/or technical and/or operational knowledge and professional skills to be acquired by Canadian HQP involved in the project are clearly defined and relevant to the Canadian space sector. There is a description of the need for the expertise and knowledge acquired, and how it will be used, in the context of a potential future space mission. The professional skills and technical skills planned to be acquired by Canadian HQP will increase their mobility from the university to the marketplace. (Score: 10)

Excellent: The scientific and/or technical and/or operational knowledge and professional skills to be acquired by Canadian HQP involved in the project are clearly defined and relevant to the Canadian space sector. The proposal demonstrates a detailed understanding of the knowledge and skills required for a potential space mission or the marketplace, and establishes a clear link with the knowledge and professional skills to be acquired over the course of the project. As confirmed in the proposal by industrial collaborators, the professional skills and technical skills planned to be acquired by Canadian HQP will greatly increase their mobility from the university to the marketplace. (Score: 15)

2.2 Fidelity of the space experience

This criterion evaluates the degree to which the project is space-like, as this will enhance the fidelity of HQP training.

For projects proposing to use ground-based infrastructure, it evaluates the quality and value of the simulated space environment for the project, and to what degree the project simulates the constraints and challenges of a space mission.

For projects using suborbital and nanosat platforms, it evaluates whether Canadian HQP will be exposed to an end-to-end flight-like experience, taking into account the budget category targeted by the proposal.

It also evaluates whether the project exposes Canadian HQP to multidisciplinary and multi-organization collaboration, typical of a space mission.

Poor: The project presents no similarities with a real space mission. Canadian HQP involved in the project play a minor role in the project. (Score: 0)

Average: The project presents some similarities with a real space mission. Canadian HQP are involved in several phases of the project, and such involvement contributes to the success of the project. The proposed flight, fieldwork or ground-based infrastructure somewhat replicates a space environment. There is some collaboration between scientists from other disciplines and/or other countries. (Score: 7)

Good: The project presents good similarities with a real space mission. Canadian HQP are involved in most phases of the project, and such involvement is important for the success of the project. For projects including a flight, most phases of an end-to-end space mission are covered. For ground-based infrastructure/simulated space environments, space-like constraints and challenges are incorporated into the project. The proposed flight, fieldwork or ground-based infrastructure replicates well a space environment in ways relevant to the project. There is a good collaboration between scientists from other disciplines and other countries. (Score: 10)

Excellent: The project presents excellent similarities with a real space mission. There is significant involvement of each Canadian HQP in all phases of the project, and such involvement is essential for the success of the project. For projects including a flight, almost all phases of an end-to-end space mission are well covered. For ground infrastructure/simulated space environments, space-like constraints and challenges are incorporated into the project. The proposed flight, fieldwork or ground-based infrastructure is an exceptionally good analogue for the space environment targeted by the project. Collaboration with scientists from other disciplines and other countries is significant. (Score: 15)

3. Resources

  • Max. 15
  • Min. 8

3.1. Quality and experience of the team

This criterion evaluates the quality of the project team, its combination of expertise, and its ability to carry out the research project and provide the proposed training activities. It evaluates the qualifications of the team members and the past performance of supervisors (PI, Co-I or PDFs as applicable), particularly their track record in training HQP.

  • Have the team supervisors demonstrated experience in the field of study and the proposed training activities?
  • Does the team have the combination of expertise required to undertake the proposed project and training activities?
  • Do the team members have a demonstrated ability to manage and complete similar projects?
  • Do the roles and responsibilities of each member correspond to their expertise and experience?
  • Do the supervisors have a good training track record?
  • How many HQP have the supervisors trained in the past and how many of them have graduated?

Poor: The team has no experience or expertise in the field of study and/or the supervisors have little to no track record with training HQP. (Score: 2)

Average: The project team has some experience and expertise in the field of study. However, although the supervisors have a track record in managing and completing similar projects, they have little experience in training HQP. All team members may not have the appropriate expertise for the roles and responsibilities they would have during the project. (Score: 4)

Good: Members of the team have demonstrated experience and expertise in the field of study and the supervisors have a good track record in training HQP. There is a good combination of expertise to undertake the proposed project and training activities. The supervisors have demonstrated the ability to manage and complete similar projects. Roles and responsibilities of each member correspond to their expertise and experience. (Score: 7)

Excellent: All team members have extensive experience in the field of study and the supervisors have a solid track record in training HQP. The combination of expertise needed to undertake the proposed project and training activities is excellent. The team members have demonstrated the ability to manage and complete more than two similar projects. Roles and responsibilities of each member correspond to their expertise and experience. (Score: 10)

3.2. Interaction between Canadian HQP and researchers from different disciplines and occupations

This criterion evaluates how well the project promotes collaborative team research and interaction between Canadian HQP of different levels of academic programs (master's, PhD, and PDFs), between Canadian HQP and researchers from different disciplines, and other occupations from academia, industry and government.

Poor: All Canadian HQP involved in the project are at the same academic level and/or have unclear or limited interaction with researchers other than their supervisor(s). (Score: 0)

Average: Some Canadian HQP involved in the project collaborate and interact with researchers from different disciplines and with others from academia, industry or governments. Canadian HQP are, however, at the same academic level (program and/or discipline). (Score: 2)

Good: Most of the Canadian HQP involved in the project collaborate and interact with researchers from different disciplines and others in academia and industry. Canadian HQP are at different levels of academic programs and disciplines. (Score: 4)

Excellent: All Canadian HQP involved in the project collaborate and interact with researchers from different disciplines and with others in academia, industry and governments in Canada and abroad. There are researchers from other countries involved in the project. Canadian HQP are from different academic programs and disciplines. (Score: 5)

4. Feasibility of the project

  • Max. 15
  • Min. 6

4.1 Clarity and completeness of the research, training and mentoring plans

This criterion evaluates the clarity, completeness and feasibility of the research, training and mentoring plans, with the roles and responsibilities, contribution and level of involvement of each team member clearly identified. The criterion also evaluates the likelihood that the work will be completed on schedule and within budget.

  • Is the project methodology clearly described and understandable?
  • Does the methodology seem realistic, efficient and well suited to the project objectives?
  • Given the proposed work plan, which should include a methodology, budget, equipment, and timelines for the project, are the objectives likely to be achieved? Are the training and mentoring plans appropriate to preparing Canadian HQP to become well-rounded, high-quality HQP able to pursue productive careers in various space sectors within industry, government, academia and non-profit organizations?
  • Could HQP be trained and acquire the same type of knowledge at a lower cost?
  • Which actions have been taken to secure the access of a ground-based infrastructure, analogue site or suborbital/orbital platform?

Poor: The management, training and mentoring plans are poorly defined and/or there is a high likelihood that the objectives will not be met because of any or a combination of the following: inappropriate methods; inadequate or unavailable resources; the proposed budget or schedule is incomplete and/or highly under- or over-estimated. (Score: 0)

Average: The management, training and mentoring plans are defined to some degree, but details are lacking. The work and HQP training could be completed on schedule and within budget, but some doubts remain concerning the suitability of methods, the access of proposed ground-based infrastructure, analogue site or suborbital/orbital platform to be used, and the availability of resources. A budget that appears to be reasonable is provided along with a basic rationale for projected expenses. (Score: 6)

Good: The management, training and mentoring plans are well defined. The methodology and resources required are clearly described and well suited to the work to be carried out. A budget is provided along with a sound rationale for projected expenses. The likelihood that the defined work including the ground-based infrastructure, analogue site or suborbital/orbital platform utilization and training activities will be completed on schedule and within budget is good. (Score: 10)

Excellent: Well-thought-out management, training and mentoring plans are provided. The methodology and resources required are clearly described and well suited to the work to be carried out. There is great detail on the breakdown and related expenses, scheduled milestones, time allocations for team members to develop a technology, be involved in training activities, feedback mechanisms between Canadian HQP and their mentors, etc. The proposal identifies adequate resources to be allocated to the project that are validated in a detailed rationale in support of the budget. The likelihood that the work, the ground-based infrastructure, analogue site or suborbital/orbital platform utilization and training activities will be completed within schedule and budget is excellent. (Score: 15)

5. Risk and mitigation strategies

  • Max. 10
  • Min. 4

5.1 Project risks (financial, managerial, environmental and technical) and mitigation strategies

This criterion evaluates key risks associated with the project and the mitigation strategies for each risk. In addition, a thorough analysis of the project's financial, technical, managerial and environmental risks will be carried out. Detailed information should be provided on technology readiness for flight or use in the field, and the risk and mitigation strategies associated with the payload launch when appropriate (level of uncertainties related to the launch date, access to infrastructure or field site, agreement with the launch provider, collaboration with industry and foreign research partners).

  • Has the applicant identified and described in detail the risks including, but not limited to, the environmental, technical, managerial (including access to financial, human and material resources), and scheduling risks associated with the project?
  • Are the mitigation strategies for each risk well thought out and realistic?
  • What is the probability that such risks will occur?

Poor: The proposal does not identify any key risks or outline any mitigation strategies or some risks are identified, but associated mitigation strategies are missing. (Score: 0)

Average: The proposal identifies some, but not all, of the main risks and provides mitigation strategies for those identified risks. There are great risks that a flight, fieldwork or the use of ground-based infrastructure simulating a space environment will not occur as planned. (Score: 4)

Good: Key financial, technical, managerial and environmental risks and associated mitigation strategies are described and are relevant, and some information is provided assessing the probability of the risks materializing. There is good confidence that the planned flight, fieldwork or use of infrastructure simulating a space environment will occur as planned during the period covered by the grant. Most other sources of funding have been confirmed. (Score: 8)

Excellent: Key financial, technical, managerial and environmental risks and associated mitigation strategies are described and are relevant. The information provided for the purpose of assessing the probability of the risks materializing is deemed realistic. The planned flight, fieldwork or use of infrastructure simulating a space environment will occur as planned during the period covered by the grant. All other sources of funding have been confirmed. CSA FAST grant represents less than 25% of the global project costs (including other collaborators contributions funded by other organizations). (Score: 10)

Evaluation score

Footnotes

Footnote 1

An investigation is a term to include the use of instruments and/or advanced systems and the analysis of results to answer specific questions. It can apply to a whole mission, or an instrument, or for the purpose of technology test, a single engineering payload, or integrated advanced system. Analysis software for which there can be anticipated a need to integrate into flight software or into pipeline processing in a ground system for a future mission is an eligible space technology.

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Footnote 2

All projects supported through this AO using animals must comply with the ethical use and care of animals in science and be approved by institutional research ethics boards. All projects supported through this AO involving human as subjects must comply with and be approved by institutional research ethics boards.

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Footnote 3

E.g. http://mepag.jpl.nasa.gov/reports/iMARS_FinalReport.pdf; http://mepag.jpl.nasa.gov/reports/E2E-iSAG_FINAL_REPORT.pdf.

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Footnote 4

The minimum score of 70/100 is greater than the sum of the individual sub-total minimums.

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