The Canadian Space Summit is an annual conference that brings together all elements of the Canadian space industry. In addition to displays, booths, and activities, the centerpiece of the Summit are three days of paper sessions covering a wide variety of topics. Sponsored by the Canadian Space Society, the 2011 summit was recently from November 23 – 25 in Calgary.
The theme of the three-day summit was “Big Data from Space and Earth: Challenges and Opportunities”. Here are some of the highlights:
Nicole Geske of Blackbridge Networks talked about coping with the challenge of Big Data. Blackbridge stores and maintains satellite data primarily from SPOT and Rapideye satellites. There will be an exponential increase in the amount of data in the near future. Technologies for handling the vast amounts of space data continues to improve, making the management and access of this data easier. Blackbridge is planning to two further expansions of its current Lethbridge Data Centre to handle the expected volume of data.
Jan Arp of Euroconsult North America talked on the increased need for satellite access in the high Arctic. As the Arctic becomes more ice free and shipping routes open up, economic activity will increase, such as energy/resources, maritime, aeronautical, government, science and research. There will be an increased demand for access to the internet. Sites at latitudes 75 degrees and south can access existing geostationary satellites. North of 75 degrees will require new satellites such as the proposed Polar Communications and Weather (PCW) satellite. Euronconsult has been commissioned by European organizations (including the ESA and even Telesat) to evaluate satellite communications needs over the arctic through 2020
Natasha Rhodes of Vision2000 Travel Solutions is an accredited Canadian space travel agent. She sells tickets to Canadians for a suborbital experience on Virgin Galactic’s suborbital space flights. At $200,000 US per flight, over 500 people world wide have signed up with only 9 in Canada.
Jean-Yves Fiset of Systems Humains-Machines Inc explained new ways to interpret the increasing amounts of data. By utilizing information visualization tools, the human perceptual system can derive information and better interpret the data..
Ryan McCoubrey of MacDonald Detwiller and Associates provided information on activities at an analogue site and the testing of a Mars Sample return Technology. In conjunction with the Canadian Space Agency, the rover was tested at sites near Flagstaff, Arizona. The team had access to use a Mars Exploration Rover flight space robotic arm to make simulated investigations of rocks in the area. During a three day Design Reference Mission, all aspects of the mission were simulated and the vast amounts of data were received and analyzed.
Jean-Claude Piedboeuf, Head of Exploration Planning at the Canadian Space Agency gave an overview of plans for future missions under Canada’s Space Exploration Program. These missions will serve national priorities as well as play a niche role in international missions. He reviewed the recent international consensus on joint space exploration which was signed in Lucca, Italy on November 10. The Lucca Declaration, signed by 28 countries including Canada, recognizes the benefit of a continuing dialogue on future space exploration to help identify potential areas for international cooperation. Future discussions will cover joint missions, joint research projects and could lead to greater cooperation in the use of current and future low earth orbit resources.
Nancy Biegler of the University of Calgary Foothills Hospital showed how remote telementored ultrasound can potentially save lives.
Richard Hughson, Research Institute for Aging at the University of Waterloo showed results from the study of astronauts on long duration flights on the International Space Station. His studies showed that the spaceflight might cause increased arterial stiffness.
Education and Outreach
Jaymie Mathews, University of British Columbia provided an update on the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge (CSDC)
Twelve teams from across the country are participating in this, the first ever CSDC. Through next year, the teams will design, build and test their “3U” triple-cubesat. The winner will potentially have the opportunity to see their satellite launched into orbit. In the recently completed Preliminary Design Reviews the University of Manitoba, University of british Columbia and the Carleton University were the top three teams but others weren’t too far behind.
A public forum was held the first evening off site at the newly built and just recently opened Telus SPARK Science Centre. Hosted by Johanna Wagstaffe (CBC Meteorologist), members of the public were invited to ask the sessions chairs questions about space exploration.
David Barona, University of Alberta provided information on the Science payload in the proposed Polar Communication and Weather (PCW) satellite. From its highly inclined elliptical Molniya orbit, it will have the opportunity to make studies never possible before – to understand and predict and mitigate damaging space weather effects on satellites.
Major Kenneth Rodzinyak of the Directorate of Space Strategic Plans and Readiness gave an overview of the Canadian Forces Space Defense Program. According to Major Rodzinyak, space is a foundation of military operations. Space reconnaissance can provide important data which is required to make decisions. Current satellites used for this purpose include Radarsat 2. Future satellites to be used for these purposes are the Radarsat Constellation Mission, Saphire and Project Bluestone.
The 2012 CSS Summit will be held in London Ontario, date to be announced.