Canadian Space Agency

Established in 1989, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) coordinates all civil space-related policies and programs on behalf of the Government of Canada. Its mandate is “… to promote the peaceful use and development of space, to advance the knowledge of space through science, and to ensure that space science and technology provide social and economic benefits for Canadians.” (Canadian Space Agency Act. S.C. 1990, c. 13)

Leveraging international cooperation, world-class Canadian scientific research and industrial development, the agency directs its resources and activities through three key thrusts:

  • Space Data Information and Services
  • Space Exploration
  • Future Canadian Space Capacity

The CSA has the following technical departments involved in research on space:

  • Space Science and Technology
  • Space Exploration
  • Space Utilization

For more information on the thrusts, consult the This link will take you to another Web site Canadian Space Strategy.

Resources for Researchers

In addition to information on CSA activities, the agency’s This link will take you to another Web site Web site has resources for This link will take you to another Web site industry and the This link will take you to another Web site scientific community that pertain to:

  • programs;
  • announcements of opportunities;
  • requests for proposals;
  • fellowships and scholarships; and
  • events and workshops.

Please consult the This link will take you to another Web site Web site regularly, and subscribe to the e-mail notification service to be kept informed of activities.

Research Units

The CSA’s in-house research is done in collaboration with Canadian universities, industry and other federal government research laboratories. Also, our projects involve strong international collaborations.

Space Science and Technology

Science and Academic Development

Fields of Research

  • Astrobiology (biosignatures in geological materials, life in extreme environments, life detection instrumentation).
  • Auroral studies
  • Comparative planetary atmosphere: a new dimension towards better understanding climate;
  • Complexity in space plasma physics
  • Development of biomedical diagnostic devices for human space travel
  • External Vibrations onboard Space Platforms and their effects on physical or chemical systems
  • Ionospheric physics
  • Magnetospheric physics
  • Near-surface geophysical surveying (ground penetrating radar / electrical resistivity tomography)
  • Novel sensor development for monitoring plant health
  • Planetary geomorphology
  • Planetary science (including mineralogy and geochemistry of Moon and Mars)
  • Remote greenhouse operations
  • Role of gravity in liquid molecular movement and fluid geometry
  • Role of gravity in material solidification and processes
  • Rover-based planetary science investigations
  • Satellite measurements of atmospheric composition: towards the production of user-based required datasets for climate and atmospheric studies;
  • Scientific study of Earth-based analogues of Moon and Mars environments
  • Solar wind studies
  • Space science informatics
  • Understanding the origins of the variability in the solar spectra and the impact it has on the Earth climate.


Alain Berinstain
Science and Academic Development
Tel.: 450-926-6573
Fax: 450-926-4766

Engineering Development

Fields of Research

  • Modeling, simulation and identification of dynamic systems
  • Spacecraft attitude control systems
  • Spacecraft navigation
  • Astrodynamics
  • Vibration and shape control of membrane structures
  • Space-based structures and testing and verification technologies
  • Lightweight, deployable/inflatable structures
  • Multi-functional structures
  • Modeling and analysis of non-linear structures
  • Advanced electro-optics
  • Micro electromechanical systems (MEMS) sensors, packaging technologies and reliability
  • Advanced polymeric and metal matrix composites
  • Testing of materials in simulated space environments
  • Multi-functional materials and nano-coatings
  • Smart and self-healing materials
  • Space-debris mitigation
  • Spacecraft thermal modelling and simulation technologies
  • Novel space-based passive and active thermal technologies
  • Optical, and electronic technologies for space applications
  • Active and passive sensors for Earth observation
  • Laser systems
  • Telecommunications
  • Spaceborne power systems
  • Onboard processing
  • Digital electronics
  • Telemetry, tacking and command systems
  • Microwave circuits
  • Instruments simulators
  • Image analysis and data compression
  • Electromagnetic compatibility
  • Effects of radiations on electronic components


Alfred Ng
Manager, Control and Analysis
Engineering Development
Tel.: 450-926-4641
Fax: 450-926-4576

David Florida Laboratory

The David Florida Laboratory (DFL) is Canada’s state of the art world-class spacecraft assembly, integration and testing (AIT) centre. Established in 1972 by the Department of Communication, it is maintained and operated by the Canadian Space Agency since 1989. The DFL facilities consist of Integration and Assembly Areas, Thermal Qualification Facilities (TQF), Structural Qualification Facilities (SQF), and Radio Frequency Qualification Facilities (RFQF). In addition to the AIT of space and terrestrial hardware, the DFL is involved in the development of technologies for environmental and RF testing of satellites, space systems and associated hardware for future Canadian space programs.

Fields of Research

  • Measurement technologies for environmental and RF testing of satellites and space systems.
  • Measurement automation and data processing
  • Measurement techniques for satellite and terrestrial antennas using near and far field techniques
  • Error analysis and calibration techniques for antenna measurements
  • PIM /multipaction and high-power RF characterization of space systems and components
  • Electromagnetic compatibility measurements for space systems
  • Testing of large antenna arrays (RF, structural and environmental)
  • Testing techniques for simulation of and testing in planetary and deep space environments
  • Human rated environment simulation technologies
  • Measurements of space debris impact on spacecraft and space structures (including. hyper velocity testing)
  • Material properties measurement techniques including testing of new light-weight and composite materials for space applications
  • Techniques for impact and shock measurements of space structures
  • Applications of force limited method for vibration testing
  • Testing technologies related to lunar and Martian missions (environment, long duration, detection, data acquisition – optical, IR, cryogenic, contamination)
  • Solar / space radiation effects
  • Mono atomic oxygen effects
  • Optical and inter-satellite link testing
  • IR measurement technology development


Dan Showalter
David Florida Laboratory
Tel.: 613-998-2873
Fax: 613-993-6013

Space Exploration

Exploration Development


Fields of Research

  • Robotics and intelligent systems for planetary exploration and on-orbit servicing
  • Autonomous rover navigation
  • Artificial Vision and 3-D data processing
  • Software Tools for Efficient Space Operations Planning and Execution
  • Modeling, simulation and identification of dynamic systems
  • Advanced robot control
  • Tele-operation and autonomous robotics

Innovations in Canada's space sector are helping to promote a more competitive space industry, generate spin-off technologies, develop high-tech expertise, and create new jobs for Canadians. Spin-offs from the Canadian Space Program leverage investments in key technologies, thereby increasing the social and economic benefits that all Canadians obtain from space activities.

Space Exploration programs are helping industry develop strategic technologies in specific niches and establish links with foreign firms, improving access to international markets. The CSA is targeting numerous Canadian industries, most often in collaboration with small and medium-sized enterprises, to accelerate the transfer of space technologies to non-space applications. These industries include oil and gas exploration, geology, mining, transportation, forestry and agriculture. Each stands to benefit from the application of space technologies to the conventional methods of Earth-based operations.

Planetary Exploration

Fields of Research

  • Life support systems (greenhouse development, sensors and modeling)
  • Astrobiology (biomarkers in rocks, ice and permafrost and atmospheric trace gases)
  • Comparative planetary geology (periglacial/glacial geomorphology and geochemistry, geographic information system, impact processes, hydrothermal systems)
  • Planetary climate & atmosphere (Mars global circulation model development, surface-atmosphere interactions, data analysis)
  • Instrument development for future exploration missions (field spectrometers/spectroscopy, grain size analysis, trapped gas analyzers, imaging systems)

Canadian opportunities for Mars exploration are a current focus of the program, as Mars, our closest planetary neighbour, is considered to hold the answers to many questions about the formation of our solar system, our planet, and possibly the origins of life itself. The next challenge for this community is to explore Mars and other solar system bodies to try to answer scientific questions about the geology and atmosphere of other planets; human exploration; asteroids and comets; and enabling technologies. Canadian science instruments on past and future Mars missions (Phoenix Mars Lander 2008, Mars Science Laboratory 2011) provide new and exciting opportunities for Canadian scientists. Another field of interest is comparative atmospheres where research on mechanisms driving the climate of planets like Venus and Mars are compared with mechanisms operating on Earth. The goal is to understand what set the climate of each planet making it so different at some points and so similar at others.

Space Astronomy

Fields of Research

  • Stellar astrophysics (including studies of white dwarfs and related stars)
  • Interstellar medium (local galactic)
  • UV astronomy (FUSE, Hubble Space Telescope)

By placing instruments on satellites above the atmosphere, scientists can observe stars and other phenomena of the universe that emit electromagnetic radiation that cannot be detected from Earth. These space-based telescopes provide scientists with an abundance of astronomical information, allowing them to discover never-before-seen features of galaxies, gas clouds, stars and planets.

The Space Science Program provides support for science investigations on subjects ranging from the birth of new stars to cosmic background radiation. Among the space astronomy projects led by CSA is the successful mission MOST, a space telescope launched in 2003 which is still operating and providing surprising results including observation of exoplanets. Canada is also taking part in the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the most ambitious space observatory ever, to be launched in 2014; Canada provides the observatory guider and a science instrument. The Herschel and Planck Surveyor missions are other astronomy missions with roles for Canada. Launched May 14, 2009, they will observe the universe in the far infrared. In the ultra-violet end of the spectrum, Canada is providing the detector module for the Indian Astrosat UVIT telescope planned for launched in 2010.


Luc Brûlé
Space Exploration Development
Tel.: 450-926-4405
Fax: 450-926-4926

Astronauts, Life Sciences and Space Medicine     

Space Life Sciences  

Fields of Research

  • Bone and muscle loss
  • Cardiovascular physiology and metabolism
  • Integrative physiology Radiation dosimetry and biology
  • Neurosciences and psychology
  • Functional Foods

In-situ biological sample analysis and diagnostics Space Life Sciences at the CSA brings together researchers from academia, industry and various organizations to learn how humans adapt to life in space and how they readapt upon their return to Earth. The Life Science activities will focus on health-risk mitigation and more specifically on identifying, quantifying and mitigating health risks associated with spaceflight.  Particular areas of interest include bone and muscle loss, adaptations of the heart and other body systems and organs to weightlessness, whether organisms mature differently in space than on Earth, the effects of space radiation on living things, and space psychology and neurosciences.

Two major obstacles face humans as they venture into space. Outside our protective atmosphere, increased radiation poses a serious threat to both humans and machines. Then there is the most unique, exciting and physically challenging aspect of space: the virtual lack of gravity. The human body adapts to it with changes to the heart and circulatory system, blood, muscles, bones, sensory systems, the systems that control balance, as well as the kidneys and regulation of body fluids. Returning astronauts also experience some interesting short-term problems, as their bodies readapt to Earth’s gravity. Other interests include the stresses particular to multinational crews when confined for long periods of time, and ensuring that astronauts work at their peak so they make the most of their time in space.  Because of very limited up-mass and down-mass, there is an increasing demand from researchers and clinicians to develop the capability of performing in-situ biological sample analysis.

The Astronaut, Life Sciences and Space Medicine branch will also focus its activities on health-risk mitigation and more specifically in:

  • Smart Textiles
  • Radiation dosimetry
  • Biotechnology
  • Nanotechnology and biodiagnostics

Web site:  This link will take you to another Web site


Nicole Buckley
Chief Scientist, International Space Station and Health and Life Sciences
Tel.: 450-926-4744
Fax: 450-926-4766

Operational Space Medicine

Fields of Research

  • Cognitive Function Assessment
  • Medical Autonomy for space missions / Crew Medical Systems
  • Human Behaviour and Performance in extreme environments
  • Radiation Dosimetry and Biology
  • Exercise and nutrition countermeasures
  • Remote and extreme environment medicine

The mandate of Operational Space Medicine is to promote and ensure the overall health (physical, mental, and social well-being) and safety of the Canadian astronauts during all phases of space missions. To fulfill this mandate space medicine combines different medical specialties, engineering and technology to examine the effects of spaceflight on humans and prevent problems associated with living in the unique, isolated, and extreme environment of space, as well as to meet the challenges of delivering health care during spaceflights.

Particular areas of interest include:

  • neurocognitive assessment tools for evaluating performance capability in space;
  • understanding and characterization of the radiation environment inside the ISS;
  • human behaviour and performance countermeasures (selection, training and support) for extreme environments;
  • exercise and nutrition countermeasures for reduced gravity environments;
  • medical autonomy through the provision of clinically current and versatile healthcare providers (skill set);
  • provision of intelligent medical systems that will assist the Remote Care Physician with diagnosis, monitoring, treatment and maintenance of clinical skills;
  • development and validation of clinical protocols for remote and extreme environments.

Web site: This link will take you to another Web site


Jean-Marc Comtois
Astronauts, Life Science and Space Medicine
Tel.: 450-926-4755
Fax: 450-926-4707

Space Utilization

Solar and Earth System Sciences

Fields of Research

  • Solar physics
  • Heliospheric physics
  • Magnetospheric physics
  • Ionospheric and thermospheric physics
  • Middle atmospheric chemistry and dynamics (including ozone science)
  • Tropospheric chemistry (including air quality)
  • Clouds
  • Aerosols
  • Sun-climate connection

The Solar and Earth System Sciences group is responsible for science mission concept formulation, requirements definition, feasibility studies, concept development and project implementation support, science operations, mission management and utilization of those assets.  This is achieved by collaboration with other government organizations, along with Canadian universities and industry.

We have access to an extremely rich dataset encompassing all aspects of the scientific inquiries listed above and are actively developing theoretical, computational and data assimilation tools to help answer some of the most significant questions concerning the Sun-atmosphere-Earth system and to understand the impacts of underlying processes on both the environment and society.

Over the last three decades, the CSA has supported over 20 large experimental projects in the solar-terrestrial (CGSM, THEMIS, Swarm, ePOP) and atmospheric sciences (MOPITT, SCISAT, OSIRIS and CloudSat), some of which have led to major scientific breakthroughs. Currently the CSA is also involved on the PICARD, a CNES led missions aimed on solar physics and its effects on the EARTH climate).

Web site:


Thomas Piekutowski
Solar-Terrestrial and Atmospheric Sciences
Tel.: 450-926-4464
Fax: 450-926-4766

Mission Engineering and Applications

Fields of Research

  • Space-based Synthetic Aperture Radar Systems
  • Radar sub-systems (altimeters, radiometers, weather)
  • Antennas for Communication and Earth Observation Applications
  • Inter-Satellite Communication Links (RF and Optical)
  • High band gap semiconductors (e.g. GaN)
  • Microwave circuits and technologies
  • Active and passive sensors for Earth observation
  • Monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC)
  • Telecommunications
  • Radio transmitters, receivers and power amplifiers

The mandate of Mission Engineering and Applications is to provide technical support to Earth Observation and Communications Missions at CSA. The Directorate provides technical experts supporting a variety of projects. The group provides mission design expertise in the early phases of the projects, engineering support in the implementation phase and interface with the users for application development in the operation phases. Research activities are focusing on developing tools and concepts for the design of future missions.


Guy Séguin
Mission Engineering and Applications
Tel.: 450-926-4405
Fax: 450-926-4926