Unique Canadian CASTOR Space Telescope Continues Building International Partnerships

CASTOR space telescope. Credit: CASCA.

The Canadian Astronomical Society has posted its quarterly update on the unique CASTOR space telescope project under development.

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.”

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.

Should the CASTOR space telescope project continue and get fully funded it would become one of the rare Canadian-led space telescopes developed in Canada’s long history in space.

It is not an endeavour Canada will proceed with alone. International partnerships are key for many science telescopes. In this case, Canada is looking at key partnerships with India, the United States and the United Kingdom at the moment.

The following update was provided by John Hutchings and Patrick Côté of the NRC Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Centre.

CASTOR continues to make progress on several fronts. The following list summarizes activities since the last e-CASS report in June. (Edited as needed)

  1. The ongoing work towards a collaboration with India featured a meeting between CSA (Canadian Space Agency) and ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) in July. Enthusiasm for the collaboration was expressed on both sides, and schedules exchanged. The next formal step awaits a meeting of the ISRO advisory committee APEX this month to formalize the joint mission. In the meantime, the Canadian and Indian teams continue to work on a common design and science plan.
  2. The UK Space Agency has issued an Announcement of Opportunity to fund bilateral missions of interest that specifically include CSA, and a proposal to fund CASTOR scientific and technical work is in preparation now. This is a timely step towards the UK participation that has been in discussion for some years.
  3. (The) CSA (attended the) International Astronautical Congress meeting in Paris (last) month, where bilateral discussions (continued) with these and other potential partners (NASA/JPL, ESA) for CASTOR. In addition, CASTOR was) on the agenda for regular CSA meetings with NASA.
  4. The ongoing CSA technical and phase 0 contracts continue to make progress. The work on acquiring, doping and coating prototype detectors involves Canadian industry, Teledyne-E2V, JPL, and HAA. Science working groups are detailing specific surveys and investigations as a design reference mission, aided by an extensive set of simulation and planning tools (FORECASTOR) being developed at HAA. A detailed costing exercise for the entire mission is also under way as part of the Phase 0 study.
  5. Overall, progress is on track to have a well-defined mission with international partners by about a year from now, as a powerful, Canadian-led mission of unique capability that will serve the community and the world over a wide range of research interests. These range from deep UV imaging surveys and spectra for cosmology, galactic evolution and AGN, to detailed studies of nearby galaxies, exoplanets, the outer solar system, and also enable unique time-domain and multi-messenger astronomy in the UV-blue.

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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