Canada Will Land Instrument On Mars To Study Weather

Oct 28, 2005

The Canadian Space Agency announced a final contribution of $6 million to Canadian firm MDA Space Missions to build a fully integrated weather station, known as MET, for the 2007 launch of NASA's Phoenix Lander Mission to Mars.

Phoenix will study climate at the Red Planet's northern latitudes, the geological history of water, and the potential of the soil to support life.

As an innovative application of lidar, one of Canada's advanced space technologies, the Canadian weather station will be the first ever to have operated from the surface of another planet.

"Canada has an exciting role in the international Mars expedition and our scientific and industrial space expertise gains recognition by contributing this key experiment," remarked Dr. Vicky Hipkin, Program Scientist for Planetary Exploration at the Canadian Space Agency.

"MET will assist in the Phoenix mission's study of water. Discoveries about the severe weather on Mars are very important to future manned missions to the planet."

MDA Space Missions of Brampton, Ontario, is the prime contractor for the MET station, which will include instruments to measure pressure and temperature, and assess climate patterns in Mars' northern plains. Optech of Toronto, Ontario, is providing lidar expertise to MDA as a sub-contractor.

The lidar instrument will analyze clouds, fog, and dust plumes in the lower atmosphere. The Canadian science team is led by the Department of Earth and Space Science and Engineering at York University.

"Landing close to the icy north polar cap in spring will let us study a remarkable feature of the martian climate. Each spring a significant mass of water ice sublimates from the polar cap forming seasonal ice clouds," said Dr. Peter Taylor, Director of the program at York University.

"There are lots of questions about where this water ice ends up and how stable the current ice cap is. Observing these clouds and dust storm features with the Phoenix lidar will provide an exciting new insight into these aspects of the climate of Mars."

The Canadian Space Agency is providing $19.5 million for the design and building of the MET station for NASA's first Scout Mission.

Copyright 2005 by Space Daily, Distributed United Press International

Explore further: Innovative use of pressurant extends MESSENGER's mission, enables collection of new data

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers measure ozone-depleting bromine

Sep 10, 2014

How much does bromine affect stratospheric ozone? Answering this question is the primary objective of measurements by a multi-instrument gondola carried by a high-altitude balloon. The gondola accommodates ...

Recommended for you

The top 101 astronomical events to watch for in 2015

Dec 24, 2014

Now in its seventh year of compilation and the second year running on Universe Today, we're proud to feature our list of astronomical happenings for the coming year. Print it, bookmark it, hang it on your ...

NASA image: Frosty slopes on Mars

Dec 24, 2014

This image of an area on the surface of Mars, approximately 1.5 by 3 kilometers in size, shows frosted gullies on a south-facing slope within a crater.

Can astronomy explain the biblical Star of Bethlehem?

Dec 24, 2014

Bright stars top Christmas trees in Christian homes around much of the world. The faithful sing about the Star of Wonder that guided the wise men to a manger in the little town of Bethlehem, where Jesus was ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.