The Canadian Astronomical Society Provides Updates on Key Projects

Left: Aperture Array Verification System 3 (AAVS3) for SKA-Low, which recently saw first light on site in Australia (credit: L. Simard). Right: SKAO and NRC personnel visit the SKA-Mid Prototype Integration Facility at MDA in Richmond BC. Image credit: D. Stevens/CASCA.

The Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) has released its quarterly newsletter, the 2023 Winter Solstice edition with updates on key projects.

In her message to the community, CASCA President, Sarah Gallagher spoke in part on Society’s efforts to push forward theit top priority project, the CASTOR space based telescope.

The Cosmological Advanced Survey Telescope for Optical and uv Research (CASTOR) telescope is a proposed “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.”

In her letter Gallagher remarked, “The Coalition for Canadian Astronomy (CASCA) has been active this fall lobbying the federal government in support of the CASTOR mission (castormission.org), our top priority for space astronomy. We have had in-person or virtual meetings with ISED, Finance, the Office of the Chief Science Advisor, and Prime Minister’s Office. In general, the reception was encouraging, but this is a tough budget year. The CASTOR team has put together an impressive portfolio of letters of support from 13 university Vice Presidents of Research, 3 Canadian aerospace companies, and 2 international space agencies that we have submitted as follow up to the meetings.”

CASTOR Update

The CASTOR update reads in part:

“While we await full project approval, progress continues on several fronts and opportunities for associated funding. These include work with international partners on the development of the UV-MOS, enhancements to the vacuum facility in Calgary, and further work on the operational and science preparation tools. Papers are being published on some the existing such tools, and co-op student projects are making good progress in developing detailed operational scenarios for the planned science surveys.”

“The CSA Space Technology Development Program’s large industrial contract will wrap up in March 2024. Final reports will address the telescope and optical design, the fast-steering mechanism and design, the precision photometer, and constraints on the UV-MOS. Along with the recently completed Phase 0 study, CASTOR is ready to move ahead to flight contracts and international partnerships.”

“The CASTOR website was recently updated and is available at the URL below. Informational documents are also available on request. Various scientific and technical aspects of the mission will be presented at several upcoming meetings such as the AAS meeting in New Orleans, the SPIE meeting in Yokohama, and the COSPAR meeting in Busan.”

Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Update

The SKA update reads in part:

t has now been almost a year since our government announced that Canada would become a full member of the SKA Observatory (SKAO). The funding committed in Budget 2023 will support Canada’s scientific, technological and governance activities during the construction phase which will last through this decade, and into the operations phase beyond that. With SKA activities ramping up in Canada and around the world, employment opportunities are also increasing both domestically (see below) and  internationally.

2024 CASCA Awards Call for Nominations

CASCA is soliciting nominations for this years awards. Prizes include.

  • Qilak Award for Astronomy Communications, Public Education, and Outreach, awarded in even years to recent and impactful outreach activities;
  • Carlyle S. Beals Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement and Community Service;
  • Dunlap Award for Innovation in Astronomical Research Tools; and
  • J.S. Plaskett Medal for outstanding doctoral thesis work.

Other updates Canadian Gemini Office news, ngVLA (Next Generation Very Large Array) update, and an update from the Optical-Infrared Review Committee. As well, CASCA posted the Dissertation: Studies of evolved stellar populations: from giants to remnants.

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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