Partners in the Phoenix Mission

Participating government, industry and academia were led by the University of Arizona with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Lockheed Martin Space Systems. International contributions for Phoenix were provided by the Canadian Space Agency, the University of Neuchatel (Switzerland), the University of Copenhagen, and the Max Planck Institute in Germany.

Canada's Phoenix Team

York University space scientists lead the Canadian scientific team for the design and construction of the sophisticated weather station on the NASA Phoenix mission.

Along with researchers from Dalhousie University and the University of Alberta, this team provided the science to operate the meteorological instrument package (MET), which included temperature, pressure, and laser-based lidar instrumentation.

The team included Principal Investigator Dr. Jim Whiteway, Dr. Allan Carswell, and Dr. Peter Taylor.

Please see the Canadian Science Team page for information on their contributions.

When the originally planned anemometer for Phoenix was descoped, Professor Carlos Lange and his students demonstrated that a telltale could be used to indicate wind speed and direction with help of the onboard camera. He then helped researchers at the University of Aarhus, Denmark, develop and test the telltale wind sensor that was mounted on top of the Canadian MET mast on Phoenix. For Phoenix, Dr. Lange uses advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) tools to simulate the Martian environment.

Please see the Canadian Science Team page for information on the contribution of Dr. Carlos Lange.


Dalhousie lidar specialist Tom Duck. (Photo: Daniel Abriel, Dalhousie University)

Scientists at Dalhousie University in Halifax are advancing lidar (Light Direction and Ranging) technology to study climate change in Canada's high Arctic and the long-range movement of pollution in Earth's atmosphere.

As members of the International Science Team, Dalhousie lidar specialists Dr. Tom Duck and Dr. Cameron Dickinson provided scientific and design input for adapting and testing this technology for the meteorological station on the Phoenix Mission. Duck is a co-investigator in the Canadian Science Team.

From mission control in Tucson, Arizona, they helped scientists operate the lidar system, transmitting commands through a network of satellites.

Please see the Canadian Science Team page for information on their contributions.

Natural Resources Canada's Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) is Canada's premier agency for geoscientific information and research. Its broad range of expertise includes geoscience surveys, sustainable resource development, environmental protection, and technological innovation.

Participating in the Phoenix mission helped advance the Government of Canada's commitment to the development of knowledge, innovation, and productivity in the natural resources sectors.

MDA was the prime contractor with the Canadian Science Team for the Phoenix mission. The company applied its world-renowned robotic technologies for autonomous satellite rendezvous and servicing, and planetary exploration missions.

Optech is the world leader in the development, manufacture, and support of advanced laser-based survey instruments. Its lidar technology was at the heart of the MET lidar sensor aboard NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander. Company founder and chairman Dr. Allan Carswell was the original Canadian principal investigator for the Phoenix mission, and the company remained active with the Canadian Team.

Working with leading space robotics manufacturer MDA for the development of space qualified lidar systems, Optech develops systems for:

  • Orbital rendezvous, proximity operations and docking
  • Lidar-based autonomous planetary landing systems for hazard avoidance and precision landing
  • Planetary and small-body mapping
  • Spacecraft ranging and inspection sensors
  • Rover navigation sensors
  • Lidar sensors for planetary science and Earth observation