CASTOR telescope concept update

CASTOR space telescope. Credit: CASCA.

The Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) has provided an update on the CASTOR telescope concept, a major telescope project the Canadian astronomy community had identified in its decadal report.

Using celestial themes, the CASTOR logo pays homage to Castor Canadensis — the North American Beaver — Canada’s national animal and an official “symbol of the sovereignty of Canada.” Credit: CASCA.
Using celestial themes, the CASTOR logo pays homage to Castor Canadensis — the North American Beaver — Canada’s national animal and an official “symbol of the sovereignty of Canada.” Credit: CASCA.

CASTOR is a “1-meter class space telescope concept on a small satellite platform that would make a unique contribution to astrophysics by providing wide field, high-resolution imaging in the UV and optical spectral region, surpassing any ground-based optical telescope in image sharpness.”

The update included the following points:

  • An export permit to exchange technical details with the IIA (Indian Institute of Astrophysics) team in India is in process. This will enable full exchange of technical details as we move forward in defining the partnership.
  • The RFP for the industrial phase 0 contract has been re-issued following some delays in the process. A contract should be approved and issued by early January.
  • ISRO are seeking an interim agreement to work on a joint mission. A brief meeting in October between the CSA (Canadian Space Agency) president and the ISRO chairman in October broached the subject and it is being followed up by CSA.
  • The MOU annex between CSA and NRC (National Research Council) for ongoing STDP (Space Technology Development Program) support and phase 0 work has been signed by Directors General on both sides. Plans are thus now moving forward to fund university-based work towards the final deliverables.
  • The MOU between CSA and JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) remains in process, as JPL plan all their activities resulting from the US decadal plan. The technical collaboration will begin early in 2022 to support the STDP industrial contracts. This also involves e2v as suppliers of the detectors.
  • CSA recently announced a plan to fund a new collection of Topical Teams to map out their future activities in space exploration. The intent is not to replace LRP2020, but to provide additional details and ideas needed for long-term strategic planning. This is an opportunity for the community to update and emphasize the case for CASTOR, which has capabilities across the full range of topical teams.

“The STDP work with ABB, Honeywell, and Magellan is proceeding well and the next contract milestone meeting on December 14 will reflect that. We have also continued to interact with the Canada-wide optical link network as an attractive option for CASTOR.”

Recent CASTOR telescope presentation to the UV Club at Caltech

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20 years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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