Lab Canada

Two-year extension for SCISAT mission

Longueuil, QC – Canada’s ozone-layer-monitoring satellite SCISAT, launched two years ago on behalf of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), will continue to operate for two more years. A fine example of Canadian space technology, this innovative, small satellite built by Bristol Aerospace of Winnipeg is performing extremely well and the CSA is extending the mission for another 24 months, doubling the satellite’s operational life. SCISAT gives Canadian scientists a lead role in investigating chemical processes in the upper atmosphere and their influence on ozone distribution, particularly over the Arctic.

“While SCISAT is providing extraordinary data on the status of the ozone layer at the poles,” says Dr Stella Melo, a CSA mission scientist, “its innovative main instrument is so sensitive that it can also detect and create global maps of chlorine species such as CFC-113. In addition, it provides data on very thin, high-altitude polar clouds.”

SCISAT provides unique data on atmospheric changes due both to natural causes and human activity. In October 2003, the science team studied the descent of anomalous quantities of nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere during a spectacular solar proton event. A year later, they analyzed the impact of large amounts of carbon monoxide that had risen to the troposphere from huge forest fires around the world.

SCISAT’s primary scientific instrument, a Fourier Transform spectrometer (ACE-FTS) built by ABB in Qubec, is operated by an international team of researchers led by Professor Peter Bernath of the University of Waterloo. Another team led by Dr Tom McElroy of Environment Canada and Dr James Drummond of the University of Toronto operates a second instrument, MAESTRO (for measurements of aerosol extinction in the stratosphere and troposphere retrieved by occultation), designed by the Meteorological Service of Canada and built by EMS Technologies in Ottawa.

SCISAT was launched in August 2003 and cost $65 million. The Canadian Space Agency provides financial support and scientific and technical supervision.