Canadian Science Team

The Phoenix Mission was led by Principal Investigator Peter H. Smith of The University of Arizona, supported by a science team of CO-Is, with project management at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and development partnership with Lockheed Martin Space Systems. International contributions were provided by the Canadian Space Agency; the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland; the universities of Copenhagen and Aarhus Denmark; the Max Planck Institute, Germany; and the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

University and industry scientists across Canada worked with the Canadian Space Agency for over four years to build the meteorological station (MET), a sophisticated weather station that withstood the Martian climate. Phoenix marked the first time a Canadian science instrument landed on another planet.

The Canadian members of the Phoenix MET team were:

Principal Investigator for the MET, Associate Professor of Space Engineering, and Canada Research Chair in Space and Engineering and Atmospheric Science at York University, Dr Whiteway was responsible for meeting the overall scientific objectives and led the Canadian science team in the design, testing, and implementation of the lidar system of the MET.As an expert in the atmospheric physics of Mars and in the use of lidar technology, his focus was on using the laser pulses of the lidar to help analyze the chemical make-up of clouds and atmospheric dust above the landing site.

Professor of Atmospheric Science and Applied Mathematics in the Faculty of Science and Engineering at York University, Dr. Taylor studied wind and blowing snow in the Canadian Arctic—ideal for research into the Martian sub-polar climate. He helped with the wind tunnel testing of the temperature and pressure sensors used on the Mars lander, as well as issues related to sub-surface ice samples and dust concentrations in the lower atmosphere of Mars. Taylor was also on the lookout for elusive Martian dust devils, like the ones seen near the equatorial region by the Spirit and Opportunity rovers.

Professor Emeritus in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, at York University's Faculty of Science and Engineering, Dr. Carswell is one of Canada's pre-eminent space scientists, an internationally recognized expert in lidar technology and founder, in 1974, of Optech—the company that collaborated with MDA Space Missions to build Phoenix's lidar. Dr. Carswell made it possible for the Canadian team to be part of this exciting NASA mission. The lidar technology he pioneered measures dust, clouds, and fog in the Martian atmosphere. His expertise in lidar measurements was critical to the success of the project.

With his team of graduate students at Dalhousie University, Professor Duck designs and builds lidar systems to study ice clouds in Canada's high Arctic. As co-investigator in the Canadian Science Team, his expertise helped fine-tune the lidar on Phoenix and he is responsible for the scientific guides and procedures used for operating MET station on Mars and receiving data back on Earth.

Dr. Lange of the University of Alberta is co-founder of the university's new Institute for Space Science, Exploration and Technology. In collaboration with Denmark's Aarhus University, Professor Lange was involved in designing and testing of the wind sensor on the MET mast. He and his students demonstrated that a wind telltale could indicate wind speed and direction if it made use of the onboard camera. While Phoenix was in operation, his focus was on the effect of wind on the process that transports ice in the Martian soil into vapour in the atmosphere.

At Natural Resources Canada, scientist David Fisher applies his glaciation and chemical fingerprinting expertise to determining the history of water on Mars. With years of experience in Canada's Arctic, Fisher is comparing his field results with the Martian climate history models that were developed from the Phoenix mission.

MET mission scientist, Canadian Space Agency, Dr Hipkin was acting as scientific authority for the MET instrument within the Agency, and played a supporting role to the MET PI. Hipkin is an atmospheric physicist fascinated by extreme environments, who has studied the atmospheric boundary layer over Antarctic ice shelves, and is interested in atmospheric gases that might be evidence of subsurface activity on Mars. She has worked with scientists at York University to use MET data to improve atmospheric models of the Mars water cycle.

Dr. Diane Michelangeli was a planetary scientist at York University and principal investigator for the Phoenix mission. As a specialist in microscopic measurements of clouds and their particles, she developed some of the most advanced computer models of the clouds and dust on Mars. Her work—so vital to understanding the atmospheric processes taking place near the landing site—made her a natural choice to lead the Canadian science contribution to the Phoenix mission. She died of cancer on August 30, 2007.

Équipe de Phoenix

Members of Canada's Phoenix mission team