Language selection


Top of page

Science opportunities with WildFireSat - Call for ideas

The WildFireSat mission

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) initiated Phase A developmentFootnote 1 for the WildFireSat mission, consisting of one or more microsatellites. The initiative responds to a need identified by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)'s Canadian Forest Service (CFS), Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and academia, to increase Canada's ability to monitor active wildland fires within Canada.

The primary objective of the WildFireSat mission is to provide:

Additional information on the currently foreseen scope of the WildFireSat mission can be found in the WildFireSat Mission Requirements Document (MRD)Footnote 2.

Motivation for Call for ideas (CFI)

The primary objective of the WildFireSat mission has placed constraints on orbit and instrumentation requirements. CSA is interested in maximizing the science return on this mission, and is therefore soliciting ideas from the broader science community about how to do so. These ideas will be used to

  1. inform the engineering design so that the future science return is not unnecessarily limited, and
  2. investigate options for additional investments that would significantly increase the science return on the mission.

Type of responses

CSA foresees four types of responses (or combinations thereof) to this CFI which are distinguished by their level of potential impact on the mission cost, schedule and risk (responses provided should take into account the specifications provided in the Appendix A):

  1. Additional science carried out using the primary instrument as currently scoped.

    In this case the spacecraft design is not influenced by the proposed science case. Examples of potential needs for investments could be to support additional science definition teams or additional ground infrastructure to process the data. The science case might have an influence on the on-board processing algorithms.

  2. Additional science enabled through adaptations of current instrument specifications.

    Examples are modifications (e.g. of spectral or dynamic ranges, noise, etc.), or addition of bands included on the primary instrument that would use the same frond-end optics.

  3. Additional science through the addition of a secondary payload which could be synergetic with WildFireSat or simply take advantage of the orbit.

    In this case additional instruments are proposed that could be added to the WildFireSat platform(s). It would be desirable that the proposed instruments are compatible with the current allocation for volume, mass, power, data rates (refer to Appendix A), but given that the engineering budget will be revisited in Phase A, it is acceptable to propose ideas for instruments that, in principle, exceed the current margin.

    To reduce the schedule and risk impact on the mission, the proposed payload technology should be at the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 4 or higher.

  4. A new mission, with similar payload specifications as the WildFireSat mission, which could benefit from cost savings by using a common spacecraft bus.

Impact on primary mission objective of WildFireSat

It should be noted that the primary objective of the WildFireSat mission remains unchanged and that none of the ideas presented in response to this CFI shall conflict with the primary objective or add significant risk to the mission.

Impact on WildFireSat Phase A activities

Based on the response received, activities during Phase A would be undertaken to investigate the feasibility of the science enhancement, to estimate its impact on cost, schedule and risk, and to assess the expected increase in benefits from the mission as a result of adding the science case.

CFI terms

Information collected in this process is for planning purposes only and cannot be construed as intent to issue announcement of opportunities, grants or Request For Proposals (RFP) from CSA. Responses will remain anonymous. All information provided in response to this CFI is non-binding.

This CFI shall in no way be considered as authorization by the CSA for respondents to undertake any work, which would result in costs to the CSA. The CSA shall not be liable for, nor shall it reimburse any respondents for, any costs, fees or expenses, which any respondent incurs in the preparation or submission of its response to this CFI.

The CSA does not intend to publicly disclose any proprietary or confidential information obtained during this CFI. To the full extent that it is protected pursuant to the Access to Information Act, any information identified by a respondent as "Proprietary" or "Confidential" will be kept confidential.

CFI due date

Responses to this CFI should be submitted before midnight (ET) , to allow for the WildFireSat team to review all responses submitted, and consider proposed science cases with strong potential as early as possible in the execution period of Phase A.

How to submit your response

Your CFI response shall be delivered by email to: using the Response Submission Form. All communication regarding the content of this CFI and additional questions must be addressed to this address as well.

CFI results and publication

A high-level summary report of the responses received will be prepared by CSA and published on the CSA website in . This summary report might contain portions of the text submitted as part of the CFI Response. In case the CFI response includes proprietary information, the parts that are proprietary information should be clearly indicated, so that precautions can be taken to not share that specific information publicly.

Appendix A: Specifications of the WildFireSat mission and potential secondary payload allocations

This appendix gives a description of the WildFireSat mission, as it is currently envisioned, for use in guiding proposals in response to this CFI. The requirements for the mission, as released with the WildFireSat Phase A RFP, are available in the initial release of the WFS MRDFootnote 2. Please refer to this document for detailed requirements of the baseline mission.

This appendix provides estimated spacecraft specifications for the range of solutions that CSA expects to be proposed during Phase A to meet the MRD. These are informed by the Phase 0 concepts as well as payload maturation and Phase A preparation activities that followed.

The WildFireSat mission is expected to be comprised of either:

  1. A single, wide field of view, large microsatellite carrying multiple cameras.
  2. Multiple, narrow field of view, small microsatellites carrying one camera each.
  3. An intermediate solution.

The estimated specifications for items 1 and 2 are provided. While the large microsatellite would provide the required coverage on a single platform, multiple smaller microsatellites would provide better data quality over the coverage area as well as a simpler payload design. These options will be the subject of a trade off study during Phase A driven by the primary mission requirements.

Secondary payload specifications are also provided. The secondary payload specifications are based on the estimated margin available before a major constraint is exceeded (e.g. major change in satellite bus class, launch accommodation, etc.). These specifications should not be interpreted as readily available space on a known platform. Compared with a primary-payload-only solution, in which the smallest feasible standard spacecraft bus is selected and customized to the WildFireSat primary payload requirements, the addition of any secondary payload will require design changes and cost increases. The magnitude and cost-benefit of these changes will require evaluation based on the proposals received. A first order approximation of the impact on the primary-payload-only solution can be made by comparing proposed secondary payloads to the primary payload specifications.

Specifications of the WildFireSat mission and potential secondary payload allocations
Item Multiple Small Microsatellite Solution Single Large Microsatellite Solution Secondary Payload Specification
(Based on the use of a single large microsatellite solution)
  • Sun Synchronous
  • LTAN or LTDN between 16:00 and 20:00
  • Altitude: 585 km baseline, 500 - 800 km possible
  • Nadir Pointing (0.5 deg accuracy requirement)
  • 3 axis control for special activities - e.g. calibration, special targets
Mandatory Bands
  • MWIR band:
    • Includes 3.9 µm
    • Lower Limit ≥ 3.4 µm
    • Upper Limit ≤ 4.2 µm
  • LWIR: 10.4 µm – 12.3 µm
  • VIS: 0.6 µm – 0.7 µm (red)Footnote *
  • NIR: 0.8 µm – 0.9 µm
N/A. Expansion or addition of bands may be proposed.
Spatial Resolution
Nadir Pointing Pixel
400 m (LWIR, MWIR) and 200 m (NIR, VIS) N/A
Optical axis x width x height /
Nadir x Cross-Track x Along-Track
220 x 240 x 200 mm 610 x 490 x 340 mm
  • Max. Internal Volume, Access to Nadir-Pointing Face:
    • 600 x 500 x 160
  • Max. Internal Volume, No Access to Nadir-Pointing Face:
    • 100 x 500 x 400
  • Externally mounted payloads should consider ability to stow for launch. Stowed volume:
    • 600 x 800 x 50
Mass 17 kg 45 kg Max. 20 kg
Power (Orbit Average) 16 W 35 W Max. 20 W
Data Generation 7.5 Gb/day 22.5 Gb/day As required. Large data volumes will require downlink with additional ground station contacts. Any additional contacts will need to be outside of Canada due to availability and power use limitations. All passes over Canada are required to perform bent-pipe downlink of primary payload data during the fire season.
Volume 440 × 296 × 220 mm Up to 600 × 600 × 800 mm

N/A. The spacecraft specifications state the expected size of the overall spacecraft, as sized for the primary payload only. Secondary-payload specific values are provided above and assume maximum possible growth in volume, mass, and power based on launch constraints.

Bus capabilities of interest to the respondents and applicable to the compatibility of proposed payloads are provided here.

Mass 35 kg 90 kg
Power Generation Up to 50 W
63 Whr/Orbit
Up to 130 W
125 Whr/Orbit
Power Consumption
(Orbit Average)
30 W
50 Whr/Orbit
55 W
90 Whr/Orbit
Downlink Rate (S-Band) 2-4 Mbps
Downlink Rate (X-Band) Not included Up to 50 Mbps
Ground Station Contact Time (Prince Albert and Gatineau) 4250 s/day
Note: Potential contact time is provided for a 5 deg elevation angle. Ground station availability is not considered in this number.
Attitude Determination 50-100 arcsec
Date modified: