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Contracts awarded for the development of enabling space technologies for future missions

In early 2020, following a Request for Proposals issued in , the Space Technology Development Program (STDP) awarded five contracts totalling $3.6M for the development of enabling space technologies for future missions. The aim is to reduce technical uncertainties and support approval and implementation of specific potential future space missions of interest to Canada. The list of contracts awarded, including organizations, contract values and project descriptions are presented below:

Contracts awarded, including organizations, contract values and project descriptions
Organization Contract value Proposal Objective
MDA Corporation
Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec
$670,814 Technologies for Terrestrial Snow Mass Mission

The project aims to develop a dual-frequency Ku-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) antenna subarray and the associated transmit-receive module. This system would support a future Terrestrial Snow Mass Mission, which aims at providing enhanced measurement of Snow Water Equivalent required to support improvements to numerical weather prediction and hydrological modeling.

Snow information is of critical importance as this resource is under stress from warming temperatures and shifts in precipitation regimes while providing a vital freshwater resource over a large fraction of the Northern Hemisphere.

Nanowave Technologies Inc.
Etobicoke, Ontario
$750,000 Technologies for Terrestrial Snow Mass Mission

The project aims to develop a dual-band subarray element and transmit receive module at Ku-Band for a space borne SAR system to prove the core technologies required for high resolution Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) observation.

Snow plays a critical role in climatological, hydrological, and ecological processes in the Northern Hemisphere. Canadian scientists recognize that the lack of high-resolution SWE data creates a significant observational gap, which limits the operational environmental monitoring, services, and prediction capabilities. The resultant suite of space borne measurements from this project will address observation gaps related to sea, ice and ocean winds, creating a cross-cutting mission concept of broad relevance to cryosphere and ocean science.

ABB Inc.
Quebec, Quebec
$685,856 Pointing Mirror Technology for Atmospheric Imaging Mission of Northern Regions (AIM-North)

The project aims to develop a pointing mirror subsystem with the form, fit, and function of the future AIM-North mission. The goal of this mission is to measure the air quality and the concentration of greenhouse gases over the high latitudes using various instruments placed on a Highly Elliptical Orbit.

While many Earth observation instruments carry a scanning mirror, the mechanism of AIM-North requires a particularly fine accuracy because of the high altitude of the satellite and the size of its mirror. This project will serve the development of instruments with a need to point over large angular range in both axis and stabilise tracking over cloud free region to maximise operating efficiencies.

McGill University
Montreal, Quebec
$749,950 Technology Development and Prototyping for Space-Based High-Performance, High-Density Signal Processing

This project aims to develop a high-performance, low-power field programmable gate array signal processing platform (i.e. an integrated circuit designed to be configured after power-up) in order to enhance the data handling and processing capabilities of electronics operating in space environments. It will focus its applicability on the bolometer (i.e. a sensitive electrical instrument for measuring radiant energy) readout electronics system of the LiteBIRD telescope.

LiteBIRD is a millimeter-wavelength space telescope mission being designed and built to map the Cosmic Microwave Background polarization. Its primary science goal is to detect the signature of gravitational waves produced a fraction of a second after the Big Bang. This detection would be one of the most significant scientific discoveries of our time. The telescope also offers new abilities to measure neutrino properties (i.e. a subatomic particle that is very similar to an electron, albeit with almost negligible interactions to other particles) and the resultant sky maps will provide a better understanding of matter in the Universe.

ABB Inc.
Quebec, Quebec
$750,000 Miniaturized Blackbody Technology Development for Onboard Calibration of Fire Diagnosis Sensor

The object of the project is to develop an on-board compact infrared radiometric calibration sub-system with the form, fit, and function of the future WildFireSat mission and the Educational Cubesat Open Source (ECOS) flight opportunity. This work will allow the use of commercial off-the-shelf infrared camera to accurately monitor the temperature of wild fires from 500 km and more in orbit. While Earth observation instruments operating in the infrared have flown kind of on-board temperature calibrator before, the unit for WildFireSat and for the ECOS demonstration requires to have particularly low mass and power consumption while offering a large area not affected by undesired external infrared radiation hitting its surface.

Wild fires are one of the main concerns regarding the forest preservation, as they consume more than 2.4 million hectares of forest each year in Canada, generate the release of 20 million of tons of CO2 in the atmosphere and can cause important property damage that contribute to raising Canadian insurance costs. The WildFireSat mission, as well as the educational demonstration of infrared cameras hope to study the benefit of new satellite data to assist ground operations by monitoring the true fire location and intensity regardless of smoke patterns.


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