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Canada's First Space Telescope Unveiled

Press Release From: Canadian Space Agency
Posted: Thursday, August 1, 2002

Saint-Hubert, Quebec, August 1, 2002 - The Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Dynacon Enterprises Limited, the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia (UBC) unveiled today Canada's first microsatellite, housing its first space telescope, MOST (Microvariability and Oscillations of STars), scheduled for launch in April 2003.

No bigger than a suitcase and costing CAN$10 million, MOST will be used to conduct ultraprecise measurements of the varying brightness of stars, allowing scientists to probe the atmospheres of planets beyond our Solar System, measure the ages of stars and, in doing so, set a limit on the age of our Universe.

MOST is a unique and exciting space astronomy pioneer born from co-operation between the Canadian government, scientists and industry. "This is a further demonstration of Canada's distinctive capacity for innovation and leadership," said Glen Campbell, Manager, Space and Life Sciences at the CSA. "Other countries are working on similar missions, but Canada is in a position to be the first. "

The MOST project uses cutting-edge Canadian technology to enable a cost-effective space science mission employing a small telescope with a mirror the size of a pie plate, carried on a microsatellite about the size of a suitcase. The total weight of the satellite is only 60 kilograms and its dimensions are 65 x 65 x 30 cm.

The CSA provided $8.5 million to fund the development of the satellite and ground control station, as well as launch and mission operations. The Ontario government, through the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund, provided an additional $1.2 million in support to the University of Toronto Institute of Aerospace Studies (UTIAS).

Managed by the CSA's Space Science Branch under its Small Payloads Program, the MOST project is a co-operative Canadian scientific partnership. Dynacon Enterprises Limited of Mississauga, Ontario, is the prime contractor. The telescope was developed by UBC, while the satellite is being assembled at UTIAS. Other key partners include the Centre for Research in Earth and Space Technology (CRESTech), Spectral Applied Research of Concord, Ontario, the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT), Routes AstroEngineering of Kanata, Ontario, and the University of Vienna. The Principal Investigator, Prof. Jaymie Matthews of UBC, leads a team of scientists from across Canada, the United States and Austria.

MOST is scheduled to be launched in April 2003 as part of a multiple payload mission from Plesetsk, Russia, on an SS-19 based launch vehicle called Rockot, through a contract with Eurockot Launch Services of Bremen, Germany.

About the Canadian Space Agency
Established in 1989 with its headquarters situated 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; Space Technology; Space Qualification Services; Space Awareness and Education. The Canadian Space Agency is at the forefront of the development and application of space knowledge for the benefit of Canadians and humanity.

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Background information on the MOST project is available at: www.space.gc.ca/most

For more information:

Monique Billette
Senior Communications Officer, Media Relations
Canadian Space Agency
Tel.: (450) 926-4370
monique.Billette@space.gc.ca

Nicolle Wahl
Public Affairs Officer
University of Toronto
Tel.: (416) 978-6974
nicolle.wahl@utoronto.ca

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