Sunday, March 29, 2015

Part 1: Canadian Space Agency Resources for Education, Business, Science and Media

          By Glen Strom

The Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA) website isn't just for kids’ school projects or the casual space fan. Educators, space business people, scientists, engineers, and members of the media will find resources that are useful to their work.

The main English language page for the CSA as it looked on March 28th, 2015.  As outlined in the March 26th, 2015 Industry Canada press release, "Increasing Canada's International Role in Space Exploration," Industry Minister James Moore had recently announced that the federal government was investing an additional $2.6Mln CDN towards the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The total Canadian contribution to the project currently stands at just under $150Mln CDN. Graphic c/o CSA.

On the CSA home page, you’ll see a menu bar at the top of the page with these headings: Audiences, Activities Sectors, Resources, Useful Links, and Multimedia. Go through Audiences to access these subheadings: Educators; Industry; Scientific Community; Media; and Museums, Science Centres and Cities.

Relevant information under other category headings are listed below.

CSA Educators page. Graphic c/o CSA. 
The Educators section has resources for classroom use. You’ll find documents, videos, audio files, turnkey projects, and hands-on projects.

The main page features three modules:
  • The Canada from Space giant floor map. The map, made from RADARSAT-2 images, teaches students about the effects of pollution and natural disasters, why arctic ice is important, and what causes the northern lights. Teachers can get the map on loan for three weeks through the Canadian Geographic Education website.
  • The Tomatosphere project. Tomatosphere teaches kids about science, space, and food. Students plant two batches of tomato seeds. One batch has been exposed to the space environment or a space-simulated environment on Earth, and the other batch are normal seeds. Students watch how the seeds grow and compare the two batches.
The Canada from Space Giant Floor Map at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa during its unveiling in June, 2014. As outlined in the June 9th, 2014 Industry Canada press release, "Industry Minister James Moore joins Canadian Astronaut to unveil the Canada from Space Giant Floor Map for Canadian Classrooms," the ceremony included Industry Minister Moore, CSA astronaut David Saint-Jacques and students from the John Young Elementary School in Ottawa. Photo c/o Industry Canada.

Links on the right side of the page take you to other resources:
  • Educational modules. Fact sheets, turnkey learning packages, articles, and activities are available for download or by ordering them. Subjects covered include math, astronomy, tethers, and spacesuits.
CSA educational modules. Images c/o CSA
  • Space Project 2000. This hands-on project teaches kids about science, space, and our solar system.
  • Podcasts for Grades 6-11. The podcasts are available as downloads in audio and video formats. Subjects include space, astronomy, science, and math. Some of the modules are presented by Canadian astronauts.
  • A searchable image gallery. The gallery has a variety of pictures showing Canada’s contributions to space exploration.
  • The Larkin Kerwin Library. The library houses a collection of scientific and technical documents, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and audio-visual materials. Most materials can be borrowed through public, educational, or institutional libraries.
  • The Activities Sector section has material that could also be of interest to educators. The section features information about our astronauts and how they live in space, Canadarm, the CSA’s fleet of rovers, the space missions our astronauts have been on, the Canadian satellites that have been in or are currently in space, science research and missions, and the International Space Station.

CSA industry page. Graphic c/o CSA
The Industry section provides information for businesses, organizations, and educational institutions involved with space activities.

These include:
  • Space science projects looking for contractors, which are listed under Announcements of Opportunity. These projects may be funded or unfunded.
  • The Canadian Space Directory, a searchable database of companies involved in the Canadian space industry, which can be searched by organization name, or by a combination of organization type, province, sector of activity, category of activity, and capabilities.
Inside the David Florida Laboratory. Photo c/o CSA
  • The David Florida Laboratory (DFL), a spacecraft assembly, integration, and testing centre located in Ottawa, Ontario. Operated by the CSA, the DFL is registered as an ISO 9001:2008 facility for testing space and terrestrial hardware and is available to Canadian and foreign companies for qualifying hardware on a fee-for-service basis.
The colour composite of a RADARSAT-2 polarimetric radar image data acquired over the Netherlands on April 4th, 2009 as part of the lead-up to the Sentinel-1 European Radar Observatory program. The different colours reflect the type and condition of the land cover. Field boundaries are clearly visible in this area, which is mostly agricultural. The dark areas correspond to water surrounding this area of reclaimed land, the very bright areas to urban settlements and the pink/blue area to middle-left is a nature reserve. The RADARSAT images were taken to familiarize European Space Agency (ESA) researchers  with synthetic aperture radar (SAR).  Photo c/o Geospatial Data Services Centre & MDA.

If you’re looking to bid on a CSA project, you’ll find them at You can use the quick search icons to browse or search the listings. Instructions for use are in the navigation panel on the left side of the page. You can also get the listings through an RSS or Atom reader.

MERX, which is a private company, has an electronic database of government projects. The basic free subscription lets you view abstracts. Full access to the site costs CDN$18.95 a month, CDN$209.95 a year, or CDN$49.95 per order.

Glen Strom
Next week, we'll take a look at CSA resources relating to the scientific community, media resources, and museums, science centres and cities which host CSA exhibits.

Glen Strom is a freelance writer and editor with a background in business and technical writing. He's also the editor of The Gazette Weekly, the newsletter of the Canadian Space Society.

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