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Ad Astra Projects

Submit your proposal

From until


  • Type: Workshop Ended
  • Date: from (workshop at ÉTS - ended) to (deadline to submit a proposal)
  • Target audience: People occupying a position allowing them to supervise post-secondary students, including:
    • Early career researchers
    • Established researchers
    • Independant academic staff


Through the Ad Astra Projects, Canadian Space Agency (CSA) experts support teams of researchers.

During this interactive workshop, we presented challenges related to the space sector.

Participants were then be invited to form multidisciplinary teams and submit a project aimed at finding a solution to one of the proposed challenges.

Submit a proposal

Detailed description

The objective of this initiative is to interest post-secondary professors from across the country in the challenges of the space sector, and to equip them to develop expertise and participate in the search for solutions, through an Ad Astra project.

Following the workshop, willing participants can form teams and propose a project to solve the challenge of their choice. Those who did not participate in the workshop and who are eligible can also submit a proposal. The selected teams will be supported by a CSA expert, so that they can acquire as much knowledge, skills and expertise as possible through their participation in this activity.

The CSA will not provide funding for these projects.

List of space challenges presented

  • 1. Rethink Nowadays Batteries

    From space vacuum to extreme temperatures, batteries need to face the rigours of space and are often the limiting factors in the reach of our space missions, especially for rovers. If we could push back their actual limits, who knows what we could accomplish?


    Electrical engineer by training, Mr. Mathieu Lagacé spent 7 years in an engineering consulting firm specialised in industrial electricity. He then joined the electronical team of the CSA and works on lunar rovers, satellite operation systems, and control systems of stratospheric balloons.

  • 2. Satellite Reentry Systems

    A satellite must leave its orbit at the end of its mission to avoid an increase of debris in space. We are looking for a system that accelerates the reentry of unresponsive satellites, and that is lighter than adding propulsion and propellant.


    Dr. Pierre Langlois has a Ph.D. from Polytechnique Montreal on the impacts of geomagnetic storms on electrical networks. At the CSA, he has worked on the robotics operations of the International Space Station, the missions and activities in Sun-Earth sciences, and currently manages the space astronomy and planetary science missions.

  • 3. Dry Lubricants for Space Applications

    Dry lubricants are used in space where wet lubricants are not appropriate due to space operation conditions. However, the performance of these dry lubricants is not the same on the ground and in orbit. We need dry lubricants for space that are not affected by humidity and have similar performances on the ground and under vacuum.


    After over 10 years in the space industry at MDA, Mr. François Alexandre Paquin joined the CSA. Over the years, he has acquired a large experience in the design of mechanisms, working on different mechanisms for missions such has the Danuri moon orbiter and the OneWeb constellation.

  • 4. Development of 3D Cellular Models

    A few hundred astronauts have spent some time in orbit and we have seen unforeseen impacts on their biology. In order to better anticipate the impacts of stays in orbit, we need to develop 3D cellular models (organoids, tissues on chips) as an alternative to animal experimentation on orbit.


    Dr. Luchino Cohen has obtained his Ph.D. at University Paris XI and performed research on human immune responses. At the CSA, he supports research projects within the space life science program, both for the International Space Station and the Gateway Lunar Station.

  • 5. Lunar Agriculture

    Lunar missions will require to grow fresh food on site. We need to advance controlled environment agriculture (CEA) systems to the next level. We must advance technologies in fields such as, but not limited to: Artificial intelligence (AI), Plant Health Monitoring, Robotic Aid, Water/Nutrient Management, Lighting, Food Safety, Energy Efficiency, Waste Management, Closed Loop Systems. Moreover, we need to build greenhouses that protect from the harsh lunar environment, including extreme temperatures and radiation.

    • Dr. Matthew Bamsey has a Ph.D. in environmental biology from Guelph University. He has worked on various projects of greenhouses in extreme environments, including five years at the German Aerospace Center as chief systems engineer for EDEN ISS in Antarctica. He is the manager of the CSA Lunar Exploration Program's Deep Space Food Production Initiative.
    • Dr. Marie-Josée Potvin has a Ph.D. on material damping from McGill University. She works on various projects at the CSA on composite materials for the space and the lunar environments. For the last 5 years, she has been mentoring the PEEKbot team, designing a 3D printed thermoplastic rover able to survive the lunar night.
  • 6. Light-Weight, Compact Solution for Advanced Space Microwave Antennas with Enhanced Beam Control Capability

    This research project aims to develop low-complexity, light-weight devices that may enable beamforming and/or multi-frequency/multi-purpose antennas to improve the capability of smallsat payloads. Optimal use of novel antenna concepts, such as metasurface antennas, frequency-selective surfaces, reflect- and transmit-array antennas, as well as novel manufacturing paradigms, such as additive manufacturing, should be leveraged to reach this objective.


    Dr. Étienne Boulais holds a Ph.D. in Engineering Physics from Polytechnique Montréal. His current work focusses on the development of SAR instruments and applications for the remote sensing of Earth and Mars. He is the author of more than 25 papers in the areas of applied physics and engineering.

  • 7. Development of Digital/Optical Beamforming System for Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Payloads

    Improving the imaging performance of current SAR systems requires complex beamforming solutions and high data rates, for which digital and optical beamforming technologies are candidates. The objective for this development is to demonstrate the potential of these technologies for their integration in a space-based SAR.


    Mr. Aurélien Fourmault has 20 years of experience in SAR technology and space programs. He was deeply involved in antenna and payload design, analysis, and test for the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) and RADARSAT-2 SAR satellites. He is the author of several technical papers about SAR instruments and other related science topics.

  • 8. Characterization of Permafrost and Its Evolution with Climate Change Using Remote Sensing

    Under the effects of climate change, permafrost is altered, with potential risks for infrastructures and large consequences on populations of the North. However, knowledge of permafrost expanse remains limited. Developing the capacity to characterize permafrost using the readily available large radar imaging dataset and complementary techniques would allow us to understand its evolution and mitigate its impact.


    Mr. Patrick Plourde is a senior radar engineer and leads a team that delivers SAR instruments and missions that monitor Earth and other planetary environments. He has been instrumental to all Canadian SAR missions of the past decade, including the RCM and the Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission.

  • 9. Space Operations Clinical Decision Support System

    Space missions where communications with Earth are not continuous require an AI solution enabling medical decision support, applied to any specialty. The solution must analyze and extract recommendations from medical data from any domain. Each recommendation must remain fully explainable, and the solution must be able to demonstrate to users how results were obtained.

    • Mr. Tristan Richmond is the Demonstration and Deployment Lead for the Health Beyond initiative of the CSA, in the Operational Space Medicine Department. He has studied biomedical engineering at Polytechnique Montréal.
    • Mr. Vincent Cousineau Daoust holds a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering as well as a master's degree in medical physics. He worked as a medical physicist in radiation oncology before joining the CSA. He is involved in the Operational Space Medicine group and supervises projects to measure radiation in orbit to ensure the safety of astronauts.
  • 10. Data Augmentation for Satellite Images in AI

    Satellite images can be used to detect various phenomena, but large volumes of images are required to train the AI algorithms and automate detection processes. The data volumes are rarely available and methods need to be developed to generate satellite imagery-based training libraries to use in Deep Learning space-based Earth observation solutions.


    Mike Kirby is currently a Program Officer at the CSA, where he has been instrumental in the development and implementation of the CSA's smartEarth program. He has a background in satellite image processing and machine learning with forty years of experience in the international Earth Observation business.

Eligibility criteria

Update: Following suggestions that we have received, certain conditions are modified. A team only needs to have two (2) new members who have little to no experience in the space field. Moreover, a team can concentrate on a single aspect of the challenge. Therefore, there is no longer an obligation to have at least a scientist and an engineer in each team. Following these changes, the deadline to submit a proposal is pushed back to .

Role of the CSA

Teams whose projects are selected will be supported by a CSA expert. Any support that may be offered is at the sole discretion of the CSA and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the CSA, according to various criteria such as the type of project, its progress, and the availability of experts. CSA experts are expected to offer no more than one (1) hour of support per week to the team they support.

CSA's support will essentially consist of sharing knowledge about the space environment and the conduct of space missions. No technical advice will be given. Each team will be entirely responsible for the execution and success of their project. Under no circumstances will the projects be those of the CSA, and all final decisions related to the project completion will rest with the project team. The CSA will in no way be responsible or liable for the success or failure of any of the projects, nor will it be liable for any damage caused or sustained by either party or by any third party.

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

The support provided by CSA could initially extend over a period of approximately two (2) years. The CSA reserves the right to terminate the support it provides at any time.


Applications that meet the eligibility criteria will be submitted to the expert responsible for providing support for the challenge to which the project proposes to respond. A maximum of one application per space challenge may be accepted.

The robustness of the methodology and the approach proposed by the team to foster knowledge exchange between members from complementary disciplines will be considered when selecting projects. Each application will be carefully examined to ensure that it brings maximum value to solving the challenge, while remaining feasible. Please note that incomplete applications or those not meeting the eligibility criteria may not be considered.

Note: Teams that include members of employment equity groups may be given priority.

Submit a proposal

The CSA invites eligible teams to submit an application as of . The application period will be open until .

CSA's objective is to respond to requests within four (4) weeks of the close of the registration period.

If you did not have the opportunity to attend the workshop and are interested in participating in a project, please contact us.

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If you have any questions, please use the Contact us form.

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