Oh to Be Boring on Mars: Canadian Drilling Technology Demonstrated

Press Release From: Canadian Space Agency
Posted: Thursday, March 7, 2002

Sudbury, Ontario, March 7, 2002 - The Northern Centre for Advanced Technology Inc. (NORCAT) today demonstrated Canadian drilling technology that could be used in a future mission to collect samples on Mars. NORCAT is conducting a feasibility study for the Canadian Space Agency on how Canadian expertise in mining could play a role in exploring the red planet.

"NORCAT is a multiple success story in applied innovation. Not only has it developed a new robotics mining technology which will allow for safer operations underground but it has gone further to pioneer a drilling platform for Mars exploration," said Minister of Industry Allan Rock. "NORCAT is a model for all of Canada on how to find new markets and commercialize quickly the results of research and development."

"Here we see Canadian innovation at its best--adapting traditional drilling technology for the exciting goal of scientific discovery on Mars," said the Honourable Andy Mitchell, Secretary of State (Urban Development) (FedNor). "I applaud NORCAT and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) for making Sudbury a key player in this inspiring and forward-looking effort." "The technological legacy of Sudbury miners may well prove to be a pioneering heritage on Mars," added Diane Marleau, Member of Parliament for Sudbury.

"I am proud to see Canada and Sudbury leading the way in technology development for space exploration," said Raymond Bonin, Member of Parliament for Nickel Belt.
CSA President Marc Garneau, whose vision for Canada's Space Program includes important contributions to Mars missions, said: "This decade Canada would like to play a major role in a scientific mission to Mars using Canadian technology. We are working with our international partners to determine the most appropriate role for Canada in future Mars missions." NORCAT CEO Darryl Lake added, "Canada has long been a leader in mining technology development. Developing technology for Mars exploration will allow Canada to maintain its international reputation and world leader status. The technologies under development will enhance and further enable the Canadian mining exploration industry to remain globally competitive."

The CSA is laying the groundwork for the teaming of proven Canadian expertise in mining technology, as found in Sudbury, with proven Canadian space robotics technology led by MD Robotics. This approach responds to scientific goals identified by space scientists in Canada to study what lies underground in the search for water and life on Mars. Extensive consultation with the science community has taken place at annual CSA-sponsored workshops and at a recent brainstorming session in Toronto sponsored by Ontario's Centre for Research in Earth and Space Technology (CRESTech).

About the Canadian Space Agency

Established in 1989 and headquartered in Saint-Hubert, Quebec, the Canadian Space Agency coordinates all aspects of the Canadian Space Program. Through its Space Knowledge, Applications and Industry Development business line, the CSA delivers services involving: Earth and the Environment; Space Science; Human Presence in Space; Satellite Communications; Generic Space Technologies; Space Qualification Services and Youth Awareness. The Canadian Space Agency is at the forefront of the development and application of space knowledge for the benefit of Canadians and humanity.


The Northern Centre for Advanced Technology Inc. is a not-for-profit, non-share corporation formed in partnership with Cambrian College of Applied Arts and Technology in Sudbury, Ontario. NORCAT assists the Province's mining and resource sectors by providing a single access point to companies and entrepreneurs for training, technology transfer, and product development. NORCAT helps its clients to develop unique processes and high quality products. The Government of Canada has launched a national strategy to build a more innovative Canada - resulting in jobs and growth and a higher quality of life for all Canadians. A key to innovation is research, which yields new knowledge and creates new opportunities. The adapted drilling technology demonstrated today by NORCAT is clearly one of these innovations that may make an important contribution to Canada's future involvement in Mars exploration missions.

For more information on Canada's Innovation Strategy:

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For more information:

Monique Billette
Media Relations Officer
Canadian Space Agency
Tel.: (450) 926-4370
Fax: (450) 926-4352

Darryl Lake
Executive Director and CEO
Sudbury, Ontario
(705) 521-8324 ext. 211

Linda Wilson
Director, Marketing and Institutional Relations
Cambrian College
Tel.: (705) 524-7387

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