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Canada: On its Way to Mars

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Sun Aug 5, 2007 7:24 am
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Longueuil, Quebec, (CSA) – NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander launched successfully this morning at 5:26 a.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Canada’s meteorological station on the lander will track the weather and climate on Mars.

“Large-scale international projects, like the Phoenix mission, advance Canada’s position in the knowledge economy,” said the Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency. “Our newly released Science and Technology Strategy – Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage – recognizes the importance of encouraging and showcasing Canadian know-how and ingenuity.”

Phoenix will travel a total of 680 million kilometres to land in the Arctic region of Mars in late May, 2008, and use its 2.35-metre robotic arm to dig for clues about the history of water on Mars, as well as the soil’s potential for harbouring life. Canada’s meteorological station will help accurately model Mars’s climate and predict future weather processes. This information may improve understanding of Earth’s dynamic polar regions by comparing the two planets.

Canada’s participation in Phoenix brings together expertise from government, industry and the research community from across the country. York University leads the Canadian science team with participation by the University of Alberta, Dalhousie University, Optech and the Geological Survey of Canada (part of Natural Resources Canada), with international collaboration from the Finnish Meteorological Institute. MDA Space Missions is the prime contractor for the meteorological station, in partnership with Optech. Aarhus University (Denmark) constructed the wind telltale.

The mission is led by the University of Arizona in partnership with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The Canadian Space Agency is one of the international partners that include the University of Neuchatel (Switzerland), the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), and the Max Planck Institute in Germany.

About the Canadian Space Agency

Established in 1989, the CSA coordinates all civil space-related policies and programs on behalf of the Government of Canada. The CSA directs its resources and activities through four key thrusts: earth observation, space science and exploration, satellite communications, and space awareness and learning. By leveraging international cooperation, the CSA generates world-class scientific research and industrial development for the benefit of humanity.

For more information, please visit the Agency’s website: www.space.gc.ca/asc/eng/exploration/phoenix.asp

Video, animations and pictures are available at this address: ftp://ftpsts118.space.gc.ca/users/jjanu/pub/

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