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Canada Joins NASA 2007 Mission to Mars/York U. celebrates "Phoenix"Mars Mission Win (Forwarded)



 
 
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Old August 7th 03, 05:57 AM
Andrew Yee
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Default Canada Joins NASA 2007 Mission to Mars/York U. celebrates "Phoenix"Mars Mission Win (Forwarded)

Joint MD Robotics/Optech News Release

For Immediate Release: August 4, 2003

Canada Joins NASA 2007 Mission to Mars

BRAMPTON, Ont. -- NASA announced today that the Scout Mission "Phoenix," that
includes a sophisticated instrumentation package developed by a team of Canadian
scientists and engineers, has been selected to go to Mars in 2007.

The focus of the Canadian team will be on studies of the Martian atmosphere
using laser radar (lidar) technology. Researchers from York University, headed
by Dr. Allan Carswell, Professor Emeritus at York and Chairman of Optech
Incorporated, will lead the Canadian scientific investigations in collaboration
with scientists from several other Canadian universities.

"This is a wonderful recognition of Canada's leading role in atmospheric science
and the advancement of lidar technology." said Dr. Carswell.

The Canadian weather sensing system will be provided by Brampton, Ontario-based
MD Robotics, a subsidiary of MacDonald Dettwiler, supported by the world-leading
lidar technology of Toronto-based Optech Incorporated.

"We are excited about the significant contribution that Canadian technology will
play in the exploration of Mars," said Dr. Christian Sallaberger, director of
space exploration at MD Robotics. "We look forward to sharing this adventure
with our US partners."

In December of 2002 NASA selected for further investigation four candidate
missions, judged to have the highest science value, from a submission of 25
proposals for the 2007 Mars Scout program. Phoenix was one of these and in early
2003 a team of U.S. and Canadian researchers was funded by NASA and the Canadian
Space Agency to prepare a detailed proposal for the 2007 mission. This proposal
has just been accepted.

"Our congratulations go out to both Canadian teams, Marvel and Phoenix, who came
to the forefront of this international competition." said Marc Garneau,
President of the Canadian Space Agency. "Today's announcement, NASA's selection
of the Phoenix team for the Mars 2007 Scout Mission is recognition of Canada's
world renowned technology and leading space science expertise", he added.

The Principal Investigator of Phoenix is Dr. Peter Smith, University of Arizona
Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. In June 2008 Phoenix will land a craft on the
surface of Mars to search for habitable zones and to study the history of water
on Mars. It aims to follow the water and measure "indicator" molecules at
high-latitude sites where the earlier Mars Odyssey Mission has discovered
evidence of large ice concentrations in the Martian soil. This region is one of
the few places on Mars that presents the possibility of the periodic presence of
liquid water as orbital dynamics change the regional climate.

The Phoenix team will use a robotic arm to excavate a trench and retrieve
samples for geological and chemical analysis. Instruments sensitive to minute
quantities of organic molecules will enable an assessment of the habitability of
the icy layer for microbial life, past and present. The Canadian team will
conduct climate studies that will provide information on the present-day
environment, including the local water vapor flux in and out of the surface
layer. Past climates can be inferred from clues in the trench walls.

The Phoenix mission will fly on a lander originally prepared for a mission
canceled in 2001. This lander provides a highly reliable means to soft-land on
Mars since it includes the capability for guided entry and hazard avoidance
using camera and lidar observations. Optech's planetary landing lidar
technology, developed in association with CSA and MD Robotics, could also
contribute to the success of this landing capability. Phoenix researchers come
from a number of U.S. universities and government agencies as well as from
Canada, Germany and Switzerland.

Related Web sites:

* http://www.mda.ca
* http://www.mdrobotics.ca
* http://www.optech.on.ca/

-30-

For further information:

Lynne Vanin
Manager, Public Relations
MD Robotics
905-790-4466,

Ted Schellenberg
Media Relations
MacDonald Dettwiler
604-231-2215,


Robert D. Richards
Director, Space and Atmospheric Division
Optech Incorporated
416-661-5904

*****

York University
Toronto, Canada

August 5, 2003

York U. celebrates "Phoenix" Mars Mission Win

TORONTO -- The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA) yesterday gave space research in Canada a welcome boost by announcing
that the Scout Mission "Phoenix" has been selected to go to Mars in 2007. Two of
the original four finalists, the "Phoenix" and the "Marvel" bids, had included
Canadian participation.

"Our congratulations go out to both Canadian teams, Marvel and Phoenix, who came
to the forefront of this international competition," said Marc Garneau,
President of the Canadian Space Agency. "The announcement, NASA's selection of
the Phoenix team for the Mars 2007 Scout Mission, is recognition of Canada's
world renowned technology and leading space science expertise", he added.

York University Space scientist and Chairman of Optech incorporated, Allan
Carswell, is leading a Canadian team of researchers in the U.S-led Phoenix
mission. Optech Incorporated and MD Robotics will provide laser radar (lidar)
technology to the Scout mission, a sophisticated instrumentation package
developed by Canadian scientists and engineers to study the Martian atmosphere.

"This is a wonderful recognition of Canada's leading role in atmospheric science
and the advancement of lidar technology," said Allan Carswell. "Optech and York
are prepared and ready to be part of the Phoenix Scout Mission."

York University President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden was delighted by
the announcement. "This is a remarkable achievement for York University and its
team of pioneering space scientists, who are helping to forge new frontiers in
space exploration. This win makes it clear that York's space scientists are
among the very best in the world."

Canada's participation will include the development of a meteorological package
(MET) by Optech and MD Robotics, that will measure the pressure and temperature
of the atmosphere. The MET package, which includes Optech's Mars lidar system,
will provide detailed information on dust and water-ice clouds in the atmosphere.

York University's leading role in the scientific investigation of the Martian
atmosphere will be directed by Professors Diane Michelangeli and Peter Taylor.
As members of the Phoenix Canadian science team, they will develop computer
models of the atmosphere of Mars that will be used for mission planning, as well
as data analysis once the mission is in operation.

"York's computer models will bring valuable insights to increase our
understanding of the Martian atmosphere, its temperature, winds, water and cloud
formations," explains Michelangeli. "Mars is known to have major dust storms.
The more we learn the better our ability to reduce the risk of problems for any
future manned mission to the planet."

The Phoenix mission will use a lander originally prepared for a mission canceled
in 2001. This lander provides a highly reliable means to soft-land on mars,
since it includes a capability for guided entry and hazard avoidance using
camera and lidar observations. Canada's lidar instrumentation expertise could
contribute to the success of this landing capability. In addition to the U.S.
and Canada, Phoenix researchers are also based in Germany and Switzerland.

About York University:

York University offers a world-class, modern academic experience in Toronto,
Canada's most international city. York is at the centre of innovation, with a
thriving community of faculty, students, staff and alumni who challenge the
ordinary and deliver the unexpected. York faculty members are internationally
recognized for their pioneering research and leadership in teaching. York is the
third largest university in Canada with 43,000 students in 10 faculties, 21
research centres, and more than 170,000 alumni. York's ground-breaking approach
to research is interdisciplinary and collaborative, cutting across traditional
academic boundaries to bring fresh insights and solutions to real world
challenges. Working together, we redefine the possible.

-30-

For further information, please contact:

Nancy White
Director Media Relations
York University
416-736-5603


Ken Turriff
Media Relations
York University
416-736-2100, ext. 22086


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