Canadian Microbolometer Sensor Focusing on Oceans, Fires and Volcanoes

Longueuil, Quebec, June 10, 2011– Canada's Earth Observation Program reached new heights today with the successful launch of the 4th Argentinian Satélite de Aplicaciones Científicas (SAC-D) aboard a Delta II rocket.

The New InfraRed Sensor Technology (NIRST) instrument, jointly developed by Canada and Argentina, will be put into low Earth orbit together with seven other instruments on this five-year international partnership mission.

The NIRST instrument will be used to retrieve temperatures of the surface of the ocean and the hot spots such as forest fires and volcanic activities.

The microbolometer sensors, which are the heart of the NIRST instrument, were designed and investigated through Research and Development activities at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and subsequently microfabricated and space qualified by the Quebec-based company INO.

Through an agreement between the CSA and Argentina's National Commission of Space Activities (CONAE), the NIRST instrument was selected for this Earth observation mission.

In contributing the sensors and associated electronics, the CSA gains flight heritage for this new Canadian sensor technology and in return obtains access to the data produced by all eight instruments on board of the SAC-D spacecraft.

" Canada owns approximately 10 % of the world's forest and I am proud that we have developed and contributed our infrared sensor technology, which is recognised as a unique space solution to monitor forest fires and released pollutants, as well as other critical events that benefit from thermal remote sensing," stated CSA President Steve MacLean.

In effect, the NIRST instrument will provide a new tool to monitor forest fires and measure timely the mass of fire released carbon from space. As a signatory to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Canada is committed to this process. Canada's sensor technology will make it possible for scientists to advance understanding of the impacts of forest fires and other natural or human induced changes on global environment.

With the recent sensor technology license granted to INO by the CSA, INO is currently the world's only supplier of flight grade linear array of microbolometer sensor. INO followed up on a contract from CONAE for the delivery of the core cameras of the NIRST instrument with contracts to build and supply microbolometer sensors for the European Space Agency (ESA) EarthCare mission and for the Indian Space Agency (ISRO).

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For more information:

Canadian Space Agency
Media Relations Office
Telephone: 450-926-4370
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Website: www.asc-csa.gc.ca