Photo: The Canadian Press
Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Francois-Philippe Champagne delivers the keynote address at the Space Canada Space Bound Conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, October 18, 2022. Champagne said Canada will contribute $200 million to the NASA-run Atmosphere Observing System. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canada 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 atmospheric observing system.
“By investing in missions like these, we are ensuring that Canada can cement its dynamic, world-class 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 movement, precipitation and atmospheric particles affect climate change, a major source of uncertainty in climate models. They will look at questions such as how ice and water move through clouds and how the composition of clouds affects 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 slated for launch in 2031. These mechanisms will examine the atmosphere both vertically and horizontally, said Thomas Piekutowski, Sun program manager -Earth System Sciences 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 systematically measured before, he said.
“By better understanding how these things interact, you’ll have a better ability to project change,” Piekutowski said. “We can improve both weather and climate models.”
The program fits into NASA’s largest Earth system observatory, which will provide data on ongoing climate change, natural hazard mitigation, forest fire fighting and improving agricultural processes.
The satellites are expected to be launched between 2028 and 2031.
The instruments should enable Canadian climatologists and meteorologists to better understand and predict extreme events, such as severe storms, floods, droughts and poor air quality.
Thirteen Canadian universities participate in the program, alongside the government. It also involves the space programs of Japan, France and Germany, as well as the United States