Photo: The Canadian Press
Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Francois-Philippe Champagne makes the keynote address at Space Canada’s Space Bound conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. Champagne says Canada will contribute $200 million to the NASA-led Atmosphere Observing System. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canada has announced new funding to help launch a series of satellites that will help monitor and respond to climate change.
Francois-Philippe Champagne, minister of innovation, science and industry, said Tuesday that Canada will contribute $200 million to the NASA-led Atmosphere Observing System.
“By investing in missions like these, we are ensuring that Canada can cement its vibrant and world-leading space ecosystem,” Champagne said. “Space is a catalyst for discovery, innovation and ideas, jobs and economic opportunity.”
The system’s four satellites are to examine how clouds, air movements, precipitation and atmospheric particles affect climate change — a major source of uncertainty in climate models. They will look into questions such as how ice and water move within clouds and how the makeup of clouds affect how they transfer heat.
The Canadian contribution will consist of two instruments on a Canadian satellite and a third instrument on a NASA satellite, all planned for launch in 2031. Those mechanisms will examine the atmosphere vertically and horizontally, said Thomas Piekutowski, Sun-Earth System Sciences program manager for the Canadian Space Agency.
“We’ll get the whole picture.”
One of the Canadian instruments will be able to examine types of infrared radiation that have never been measured systematically before, he said.
“By better understanding how these things interact, you’re going to have better capability to project changes,” Piekutowski said. “We can improve both weather and climate models.”
The program fits within NASA’s larger Earth System Observatory, which will provide data on ongoing climate change, natural hazard mitigation, fighting forest fires and improving agricultural processes.
The satellites are scheduled to launch between 2028 and 2031.
The instruments are to allow Canadian climate scientists and weather forecasters to better understand and predict extreme events, such as severe storms, floods, droughts and poor air quality conditions.
Thirteen Canadian universities are involved with the program, along with the government. It also involves the space programs of Japan, France and Germany, as well as the U.S.