Press Release

Canada’s SCISAT Satellite in Full Operation

By SpaceRef Editor
March 11, 2004
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The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) today confirmed the full commissioning of its new SCISAT satellite, launched in August 2003 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The 2-year Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment (ACE) is now underway. A Commissioning Review held on February 27, 2004 at CSA headquarters in Longueuil marked the formal transition from satellite commissioning activities to full science operations.

Orbiting the Earth 15 times a day at an altitude of 650 km, the satellite will help Canadian and international scientists improve their understanding of the depletion of the ozone layer, with special emphasis on the changes occurring over Canada and in the Arctic.

“SCISAT is truly a great partnership achievement,” said Marc Garneau, President of the Canadian Space Agency. The satellite was built by Magellan Aerospace’s Bristol Aerospace in Winnipeg and is equipped with scientific instruments made by ABB in Quebec City and EMS Technologies in Ottawa. Led by the University of Waterloo, the science team includes researchers from Environment Canada, the University of Toronto and several other Canadian and foreign academic institutions. “SCISAT partners came together to design a state-of-the-art scientific satellite, once more showing Canada’s leadership in atmospheric sciences and small satellite technology,” Mr. Garneau added.

Furthermore, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) is contributing $1.6 million over five years to the financing of mission preparation studies and results analyses. Among the project’s international partners are NASA, which provided the launch, and Belgium, which contributed the array detectors for the on-board cameras.

Dr. Peter Bernath, a professor of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Waterloo and Mission Scientist for the ACE mission, said that “The images and data captured by SCISAT are of outstanding quality. The science team hopes to extract significant results from these data.”

The mission will measure and help understand the chemical processes affecting the distribution of ozone in Earth’s upper atmosphere. The mission payload consists of a Fourier Transform Spectrometer and of a second instrument called MAESTRO (for Measurements of Aerosol Extinction in the Stratosphere and Troposphere Retrieved by Occultation). Dr. Tom McElroy of Environment Canada is the principal investigator for MAESTRO, supported by Professor James Drummond of the University of Toronto. SCISAT’s first scientific results should be available by the end of the year.

For more information on SCISAT, please consult the following web page:

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Monique Billette

Senior Media Relations Officer

Canadian Space Agency

Telephone: (450) 926-4370


SpaceRef staff editor.