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NEOSSat: Canada's Sentinel in the Sky

Launch: February 25, 2013
Status: Active

The Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite (NEOSSat), launched February 25, 2013, is the latest in a proud family of world-leading Canadian satellites. The world's first space telescope dedicated to detecting and tracking asteroids and satellites. It circles the globe every 100 minutes, scanning space near the Sun to pinpoint asteroids that may someday pass close to Earth. NEOSSat is also sweeping the skies in search of satellites and space debris as part of Canada's commitment to keeping orbital space safe for everyone. NEOSSat applies the kind of industry-leading technology for which Canada has become known and has already demonstrated in our very successful Microvariability and Oscillations of Stars (MOST) satellite.

Animation depicting NEOSSat's mission. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

An Eye on Asteroids

The suitcase-sized NEOSSat orbits approximately 800 kilometers high above the Earth, searching for near-Earth asteroids that are difficult to spot using ground-based telescopes. Due to its lofty location, it is not limited by the day-night cycle, and can operate 24/7. Through NEOSSat, Canada contributes to the international effort to catalogue the near-Earth population of asteroids producing information that will be crucial to targeting new destinations for future space exploration missions.

Space Debris Surveillance

In its other capacity, NEOSSat monitors orbiting space objects to help minimize collisions between them. NEOSSat will keep track of the positions of both satellites and "space junk" as part of the High Earth Orbit Surveillance System project by Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC). NEOSSat is the first microsatellite used for this purpose. One of the major advantages of using NEOSSat in this capacity is that, unlike ground-based telescopes, it is able to track satellites and space debris in a wide variety of locations and not be limited by geographic location, the day-night cycle, or weather. The information produced by NEOSSat will bolster Canada's contribution to international efforts to maintain the safety of Canadian and international space assets.

NEOSSat testing at the Canadian Space Agency's (CSA) David Florida Laboratory test facility


NEOSSat is jointly funded by the CSA and DRDC. The satellite was built by Microsat Systems Canada Inc., with support from Spectral Applied Research and COM DEV International Ltd (formerly Routes AstroEngineering). Robert Lauchie Scott from DRDC leads the High Earth Orbit Space Surveillance project and the science team whose mission is to track satellites and debris in High Earth Orbit.

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