SCISAT Team Wins the Alouette Award

May 8, 2009 - The Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute has announced the recipients of the 2009 CASI Senior Awards. The 2009 Alouette Award for outstanding contributions to advancement in Canadian space technology, applications, science and engineering goes to leaders of the development of the outstandingly successful Canadian SCISAT satellite.

Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment (ACE), also known as SCISAT, is a Canadian satellite mission for remote sensing of the Earth's atmosphere. The primary scientific goals of the SCISAT-ACE mission are:

  • to understand the chemical and dynamical processes that control the distribution of ozone in atmosphere, particularly in the Arctic;
  • to explore the relationship between atmospheric chemistry and climate change;
  • to study the effects of biomass burning on the upper troposphere, and;
  • to measure aerosols and clouds so as to be able to reduce the uncertainties in their effects on the global energy balance.

From the absorption of sunlight during sunrise and sunset, ACE is able to determine the composition of the atmosphere as a function of height. By virtue of the solar occultation technique, all observations are self calibrating thus the precision and accuracy of the measurements is outstanding.

The SCISAT satellite carries two main instruments: the infrared Fourier Transform Spectrometer (ACE-FTS) built by ABB-Bomem in Quebec City and the MAESTRO (Measurement of Aerosol Extinction in the Stratosphere and Troposphere Retrieved by Occultation) spectrophotometer designed and built in a partnership between Environment Canada, EMS Technologies and the University of Toronto. The satellite bus was made by Bristol Aerospace in Winnipeg. SCISAT was launched by NASA using a Pegasus XL rocket on 12 August 2003 and in spite of having a nominal two year mission, celebrates its sixth successful year in orbit this August.

The data from the ACE-FTS instrument have become the "gold standard" in relation to measuring concentrations of constituents in the Earth's middle atmosphere. This instrument routinely measures approximately 35 gas species in the atmosphere together with levels of various types of aerosols. Some of these are in the parts-per-billion (10-9) range in concentration, a truly remarkable achievement.

The 2009 recipients of the Alouette Award are:

  • John Glendon Rumbold - Mission Programme Manager
  • Victor Wehrle - FTS & Science Manager
  • Peter Bernath - Mission Scientist
  • Tom McElroy - MAESTRO Instrument
  • Marc-Andre Soucy - FTS Contractor
  • Ian Walkty - Bus Contractor

The Awards has been presented at the annual Gala Dinner during the CASI AERO'09 Conference, being held at the Canada Aviation Museum in Ottawa on the evening of May 6, 2009.