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SCISAT: 20 years of discovery

The SCISAT satellite has been orbiting Earth for 20 years. (Credit: CSA)

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the launch of SCISAT, an entirely Canadian satellite mission designed to help study the ozone layer and the substances that deplete it. Originally intended to last two years, the satellite has far exceeded expectations. It is still operational and performing as it should, and all signs point to continued success.

SCISAT measures 70 different substances in the atmosphere and establishes profiles of temperature and wind speeds. The science teams in charge of data processing are continually improving their methods in order to validate the data and extract even more information from it.

More relevant than ever, 20 years later

Thanks to recent advances, SCISAT has been able to detect a number of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). These powerful greenhouse gases are controlled substances. In addition, SCISAT shed light on a new way in which stratospheric ozone is being destroyed, involving aerosols and chlorine. This discovery was made after the Australian bushfires, during which a large amount of smoke was injected into the stratosphere.

In , SCISAT was used to detect and monitor water vapour injected into the stratosphere when the Hunga Tonga volcano erupted. It was found that the water was from marine sources rather than the atmosphere.

Learning more about climate change

SCISAT data on many molecules can be studied to better understand atmospheric chemistry, which is directly related to climate change. By measuring greenhouse gases and aerosols (fine particles), the satellite provides a deeper understanding of the atmosphere's energy balance, a key source of uncertainty in climate models.

To mark the anniversary of SCISAT, scientists, government officials, industry representatives and policy makers will attend an event from to , at CSA headquarters in Longueuil, Quebec.

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