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MOST spacecraft



[Pardon if this has already been posted-  I have trouble keeping up with

AMsat-BB these days]


Canadian Space Agency
St. Hubert, Quebec

CANADIAN SPACE AGENCY ANNOUNCES PROJECT TO BUILD CANADA'S FIRST SPACE
TELESCOPE

Saint-Hubert, August 5, 1998 -- The Canadian Space Agency (CSA)
announced
today that Dynacon Enterprises Limited of Toronto has been selected as
the
lead contractor to develop and build the world's smallest astronomical
space
telescope, capable of measuring the ages of stars, and perhaps even
unlocking
mysteries of the universe itself.

Other key partners include the University of British Columbia (UBC) and
the
University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS). The
$4-million
contract is subject to the successful completion of federal contract
procedures and negotiations.

The project -- called the Microvariability and Oscillations of Stars
project,
or MOST -- will bring together teams from Canada and the United States
to
design a low-cost, 50-kilogram satellite. The satellite's telescope, no
bigger
than a pie plate in diameter, will be secured to a suitcase-sized
platform.
The ability to use such a small satellite for a space telescope is made
possible by Dynacon's new, lightweight gyroscope technology that
corrects
the
wobbling motion of the satellite, and controls accurately where the
satellite
is pointing

Although relatively tiny in size, the satellite and its telescope will
be a
powerful tool to help astronomers probe the internal structures of stars
to
determine their ages.

The MOST telescope will be able to detect and characterize the rapid
oscillations in light intensity of stars -- a scientific feat not
currently
possible with any other telescope on earth or in space, including the
Hubble
Space Telescope.

As part of the MOST team, the University of British Columbia will design

and
build a telescope of unprecedented photometric capabilities. Dynacon
Enterprises, together with UTIAS, will design the microsatellite bus
that
will
provide the high-precision pointing capability needed for both this and
future
CSA space science missions. Other MOST partners include: the Centre for
Research in Earth and Space Technology (CRESTech) of Toronto; the Radio
Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT), which includes both Canadian and
US
Chapters; AeroAstro Corporation of Herndon, Virginia; the Royal
Astronomical
Society of Canada (RASC); and a team of consulting scientists from
across
Canada and the United States, led by the Principal Investigator, Prof.
Jaymie
Matthews of the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of

British Columbia.

The MOST project falls under the Small Payloads Program, sponsored by
the
CSA's Space Science Branch.

The CSA is providing $4 million of the total cost. An additional $1.2
million
is being provided from the Ontario Government Challenge Fund, while the
balance is being financed by the University of British Columbia and the
University of Toronto.

Traditionally, the development and implementation of satellite
technology
and
programs have been lengthy and expensive. With the Canada-led
microsatellite
project, the cost of having a satellite in orbit would be dramatically
reduced.

"The goal of the CSA's Small Payloads Program is to provide low-cost,
frequent
access to space for Canadian scientists, said Glen Campbell, the CSA's
Project
Manager for MOST. Lower cost means we can fly more experiments, keeping
Canada
at the forefront of innovative technologies that push the frontier of
space
research".

- 30 -

For more information:

Isabelle Hudon
Manager, Media Relations
450 926-4350
isabelle.hudon@space.gc.ca

CSA will release a photo on the wire and is also providing the
electronic
media with B-rolls.


FACT SHEET: THE CANADIAN SPACE AGENCY'S MOST PROJECT CREATING
NEXT-GENERATION
MICRO-SATELLITES

The Canadian Space Agency's MOST project is a co-operative scientific
partnership to create the world's smallest astronomical space telescope,

capable of measuring the ages of stars in our galaxy and perhaps even
unlocking mysteries of the universe itself.

Sponsored by the CSA's Space Science Branch, the various MOST project
teams
will design, build and monitor the microsatellite that will orbit 800
kilometres above the earth, allowing scientists to collect stellar data
24
hours a day.

The tiny satellite, weighing only 50 kilograms, will carry a high
precision
telescope no bigger in diameter than a pie plate. The device will
measure
the
oscillation in light intensity of stars in order to determine their
composition as well as age. Younger stars are comprised of more hydrogen

than
helium. Because hydrogen is lighter than helium, sound waves pass
through
it
more quickly. These sound waves set up pulsations in the star's surface,

producing changes in the light intensity of the star. The satellite's
telescope can measure the oscillations in intensity of the star, thus
estimating its age.

The MOST satellite is unique not only because of its small size, but
because
it will conduct stellar measurements from space. Traditionally,
scientists
have relied upon expensive, earth-based telescopes to provide research
data. These instruments have been hampered by both the Earth's
distorting
atmosphere and its rotation -- allowing for only a partial viewing of a
star
due to the day-night cycle. In space, the MOST telescope will have an
unblocked, constant view of a star for up to seven weeks at a time and
will
downlink data to ground stations at the University of British Columbia
and
the University of Toronto. The telescope will be mounted on a platform
about
the size of a suitcase. The ability to use such a small satellite for a
space
telescope is made possible by Dynacon's new, lightweight gyroscope
technology
that corrects the wobbling motion of the satellite, and controls
accurately
where the satellite is pointing.

Toronto-based Dynacon Enterprises Limited has been selected as the lead
contractor in the MOST project. Other key partners include: the
University
of
British Columbia, the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace
Studies
(UTIAS), as well as the Centre for Research in Earth and Space
Technology
(CRESTech) of Toronto, the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT),
which
includes both Canadian and US chapters, AeroAstro Corporation of
Herndon,
Virginia, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC), and a team of

consulting scientists from across Canada and the United States led by
the
Principal Investigator, Prof. Jaymie Matthews, of the Department of
Physics
and astronomy of the University of British Columbia.

Canada is already a noted leader in the study of stellar pulsation and
rapid
variability. The MOST project will build on this expertise, helping to
expand
upon and answer fundamental questions about the nature of the universe
that
have intrigued scientists and non-scientists alike since the beginning
of
time.

MOST is an acronym for Microvariability and Oscillations of STars.

- 30 -

For more information, please contact:
Isabelle Hudon
Manager, Media Relations
Phone: (450) 926-4350


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