July 27, 2009 14:11 ET
Canada on Mars?
Algonquin Radio Observatory readied as ground station for Northern Light mission
Attention: Education Editor, News Editor, Science Editor, Tech/Telecomm Editor, World News Editor
TORONTO, ONTARIO, MEDIA RELEASE--(Marketwire - July 27, 2009) - A Canadian team aiming at the red planet is a big step closer with its successful repair of Canada's largest radio telescope. Led by Toronto-based Thoth Technology and York University, a team of more than 50 scientists from 12 Canadian universities is working on Northern Light, a Canadian mission to place a robotic lander on Mars.
An important part of the team's plans is the direct reception of signals beamed from the Martian surface. To receive the signals, the team had first to refurbish the 46 metre telescope located at the Algonquin Radio Observatory, the ground station for the Northern Light mission. The fully steerable antenna had been suffering from a mechanical problem in the azimuth gearboxes that support the 1000-tonne dish.
"We needed to change out one of the main bearings in order to restore full performance," said Caroline Roberts, President and CEO of Thoth Technology Inc., the company which operates the observatory. "Repairing a massive machine is always challenging; however, the operation went very smoothly, and telescope performance has been restored."
The task of changing the huge bearing was undertaken by J. B. Millwrighting of Ajax, Ontario. "The renovation of this historic telescope is an unusual project for us, but we were very pleased to assist," said company President Norm Bischof. "The instrument is one of Canada's engineering marvels, and it was wonderful to return it to operation."
The Northern Light team has also developed rover and lander technologies that will carry an international instrument suite to explore the Martian environment.
"Canada was third into space, and we want to be third to land successfully on another planet," said project leader Brendan Quine. "The next viable opportunity for a Canadian landing on Mars is in 2012, and we're working hard to be ready."
For more information about the Northern Light mission, visit marsrocks.ca.
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Caroline Roberts, President and CEO
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