Constellations, Launch, New Space and more…

Teams Selected for Canadian CubeSat Project

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
May 6, 2018
Filed under , ,

Led by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the Canadian CubeSat Project (CCP) offers post-secondary institutions from each province and territory the opportunity for their students to take part in a real space mission by designing, building, launching, and operating their own miniature satellite, called a CubeSat.

Following an open competitive process (an Announcement of Opportunity):

  • 15 proposals (submitted by professors) were selected;
  • 15 grants ranging from $200 000 to $250 000 have been awarded;
  • 37 organizations are participating thanks to several inter-regional, inter-provincial and international collaborations (29 Canadian institutions and 8 from abroad: Australia, Belgium, France, Norway, Portugal, Russia, and the United States).

The teams will operate their satellites and conduct scientific experiments and/or validation of their technology development from space according to the objectives of their respective missions, which could last up to 12 months.


University of Alberta (Edmonton)
Ex-Alta 2

Themes: Space weather, Earth observation and environment

  • Expand our open-source platform to include accessible, open-source satellite software, electronic, and mechanical designs to increase Canadian and world access to space.
  • Test an imaging instrument designed to collect information for predicting, tracking, and monitoring the impact of wildfire on vegetation and land.
  • Fly a flux-gate magnometer, an instrument designed to monitor and better understand the effects of space weather on our communications systems.

Academic collaborators:

  • Aurora College (NT)
  • Yukon College (YT)
  • University of Calgary (AB)
  • University of Saskatchewan (SK)
  • York University (ON)
  • University of Oslo (Norway)
  • Von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics (Belgium)
  • University of Iowa (USA)

British Columbia

University of Victoria (Victoria)
ORCA2Sat: Optical and radio calibration of atmospheric attenuation CubeSat

Theme: Space science and technology

  • Develop and test new advancements in technology to better understand “dark energy,” an enigmatic form of energy making up 75% of the universe believed to cause the universe to expand at an accelerating rate. Operating with two payloads, ORCA2Sat will calibrate a number of both optical and radio observatories in an effort to reduce uncertainties associated with measurements of the universal expansion rate. These calibrated measurements may provide new insights into the nature of dark energy and the universal expansion rate.

Academic collaborators:

  • Simon Fraser University (BC)
  • University of British Columbia (BC)
  • The Technical University of Lisbon (Portugal)
  • Harvard University (USA)

Industry collaborator:

  • Space Systems Loral (USA)

Governmental/NGO collaborator:

  • National Research Council (ON)


University of Manitoba (Winnipeg)
Manitoba SAT-1

Themes: Astronomy, geology

  • Study how space conditions affect the composition of asteroids and the Moon so that researchers on Earth can better understand those effects when studying their cousins, meteorites. This mission will also help better understand the origins of asteroids when we combine this data with the data from asteroid sample-return missions, such as the OSIRIS-REx mission.

Academic collaborators:

  • University of Winnipeg (MB)
  • York University (ON)
  • Interlake School Division (MB)

Industry collaborator:

  • Magellan Aerospace (MB)

New Brunswick

University of New Brunswick (Fredericton)
CubeSat NB: High-precision Satellite Positioning and Imaging

Themes: Space weather, meteorology

  • Provide new insights into the behaviour of Earth’s upper atmosphere including the ionosphere. CubeSat NB will receive signals transmitted by global navigation satellite systems, such as GPS, as they travel through the ionosphere and are affected by it. Researchers will be able to use the data to further study how the ionosphere changes from place to place over time as well as how it responds to space weather. Significant space weather events can interfere with communications systems and electrical grids.
  • CubeSat NB will also carry three cameras. Two cameras will allow the team to study the distribution of oxygen in the upper atmosphere, capturing images of the red and green light oxygen atoms given off during aurora and airglow events. The images will be used to examine the varying composition of the ionosphere and its response to solar storms. The third camera will be used to take images of Earth’s surface for Earth science and meteorology applications. Knowledge of Earth’s oceans is critical to the understanding of climate change.

Academic collaborators:

  • University of Moncton (NB)
  • New Brunswick Community College, Saint John Campus (NB)

Newfoundland and Labrador

Memorial University of Newfoundland (St. John’s)
Killick-1: a GNSS Reflectometry CubeSat for measuring sea ice thickness and extent

Themes: Earth observation, climate change, environment

  • Test an existing technology designed to monitor oceans (sea-ice detection and sea-ice concentration estimation) and fit it on the smaller CubeSat frame, which could lead to cheaper solutions to monitor and collect data on our oceans.

Academic collaborators:

  • University of Prince Edward Island (PEI)

Industry collaborator:

  • C-CORE (NL)

Northwest Territories

Aurora Research Institute of Aurora College (Inuvik)

Themes: Community outreach, Indigenous culture

  • Promote and share Indigenous culture across Canada through northern images, a project that will take northern art to space, where pictures of various pieces will be taken with Earth in the background.
  • Promote and share Indigenous culture across Canada through northern voices; engage amateur radio across the country with stories and messages in Indigenous languages.
  • Promote and share Indigenous culture across Canada through games; create a globally interactive game for amateur radio operators. Special recordings played only in certain geographic zones will require global cooperation in order to decode a whole message. Messages and content will be developed on the subjects of northern Indigenous history and language.

Academic collaborators:

  • University of Alberta (AB)
  • Yukon College (YT)
  • Nunavut Arctic College (NU)
  • University of Alberta North (AB)

Governmental/NGO collaborator:

  • Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure (NRCan)

Nova Scotia

Dalhousie University (Halifax)
Dalhousie University CubeSat (DUCS)

Theme: Space technology

  • Test a new CubeSat frame made out of lightweight metal alloys to provide better space navigation capabilities for future CubeSats.
  • Validate the use of onboard solar energy and battery storage technology to power a stabilization wheel that will better control the position of the satellite’s instruments.

Industry collaborators:

  • IMP Aerospace (NS)
  • Xeos Technologies (NS)

Ontario and Nunavut

Western University (London, ON) in partnership with Nunavut Arctic College (Iqaluit, NT)
Western University – Nunavut Arctic College CubeSat Project

Themes: Space exploration, Earth observation, climate change, environment, educational outreach

  • Conduct a flight-test with a novel imaging system for engineering technology demonstration with the potential to provide virtual reality-ready images. This imaging system has future applications in Earth observation and space exploration. Testing will demonstrate imaging modes for different in-orbit functions.
  • Enhance science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) outreach of Western University’s Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX) by taking CubeSat operations into the classroom. This will include students from Southwestern Ontario schools and Nunavut Arctic College. Remote access to the CubeSat will facilitate live demonstrations of how to send commands and how to interpret data received. These activities will complement the existing classroom activities and build upon previous work developed at Western in enabling remote access to laboratory equipment.

Industry collaborators:

  • Canadensys Aerospace (ON)
  • MDA (ON)


McMaster University (Hamilton)
NEUDOSE: a CubeSat mission for dosimetry of charged and neutral particles

Theme: Space exploration/radiation

  • Test an instrument that may offer new ways to measure the amount of radiation to which astronauts could be exposed during spacewalks, as it poses serious risks to their health. This instrument has the potential to replace current dosimetry equipment on board the International Space Station. Its measurements will be used to identify high dose rate areas and incoming solar storms, and to improve radiation modelling tools in preparation for future deep-space missions.

Academic collaborator:

  • Mohawk College (ON)

Industry collaborators:

  • Bubble Technology Industries (ON)

Governmental/NGO collaborator:

  • NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center (USA)


York University (Toronto)
Educational Space Science and Engineering CubeSat Experiment (ESSENCE)

Themes: Earth observation, climate change, environment, radiation

  • Test a Canadian-developed wide-angle camera to observe snow and ice coverage in Northern Canada. The information collected through its images could help map the thawing of Arctic ice and permafrost and give a better picture of the impacts of climate change in the region.
  • Test a solar energetic proton detector, provided by the University of Sydney, to collect data that will enable a better understanding of the effect of Solar Proton Events (SPEs). SPEs are the result of solar activity during which radioactive protons emitted by the Sun become highly energized. The level of radioactivity caused by such events can penetrate and cause damage to the structure and electronic components of spacecraft in their paths. Understanding these events and their effects could help improve the design of CubeSats so they are more resistant to radiation.

Academic collaborator:

  • ICT Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology (ON)
  • University of Sydney (Australia)

Industry collaborators:

  • Canadensys Aerospace (ON)

Prince Edward Island

University of Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown)
SpudNik-1: a CubeSat-based high-resolution imaging system for precision agriculture

Themes: Earth observation, smart agriculture, environment

  • Develop and test an imaging system for precision agriculture. The system will be able to capture precise soil and crop data (texture, topography, moisture content, weed and disease infestations, crop damage, etc.) as well as verify the effectiveness of herbicide and fungicide applications, monitor physical damage due to insects, inundation, wind and hail, and schedule an irrigation plan. The goal is to develop better monitoring systems to promote greater sustainability.

Academic collaborators:

  • Memorial University of Newfoundland (NL)
  • Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Russia)

Industry collaborators:

  • C-CORE (NL)


Concordia University (Montreal)

Themes: Earth observation, climate change, space technology

  • Test an imaging instrument to collect data on dust measurements and study the effect of climate change in the Kluane Lake region.
  • Evaluate the viability of a new electronic component that shows better resistance to the harsh conditions of space and that could improve the cost-effectiveness and performance of future CubeSat computers.

Academic collaborators:

  • Université de Montréal (QC)
  • L’Institut polytechnique de Grenoble (France)

Industry collaborators:

  • MDA (QC)
  • MPB Communications (QC)
  • Mission Control Space Services (ON)
  • Kalray S.A. (France)
  • Spectrum Aerospace Group (Germany)

Governmental/NGO collaborators:

  • Let’s Talk Science (QC & ON)


Université de Sherbrooke (Sherbrooke)
UdeSat: magnétomètre quantique à diamant pour nanosatellites

Themes: Space weather, communications system

  • Conduct one of the first demonstrations of a quantum sensor in space. Quantum sensors use the unique and often strange behaviour of matter at very small distances to perform ultra-sensitive and robust measurements. This quantum sensor uses nitrogen-vacancy defects in a tiny piece of diamond to measure the intensity and orientation of the magnetic field in space. Such measurements are useful to study the effect of solar storms on radio communication, GPS or electrical grids, or the flow of magma under Earth’s crust, for instance. Quantum technologies, such as this magnetometer, will lead to smaller, more energy efficient, and more sensitive sensors for space applications.

Academic collaborators:

  • École nationale d’aéronautique (QC)


University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon)

Theme: Space technology

  • Study how materials degrade in space by looking at how useful construction materials are affected by extreme temperatures, radiation, and space debris in low Earth orbit, and by studying material changes in colour, texture, brittleness, and electrical conductivity. The results of the study could lead to more cost-efficient solutions for the space sector.

Academic collaborators:

  • Saskatchewan Polytechnic (SK)
  • University of Alberta (AB)

Industry collaborators:

  • SED Systems (SK)
  • Innocorps Research Corporation (SK)


Yukon College (Whitehorse)

Themes: Space weather, community outreach, STEM promotion

The project will focus on promoting STEM and engage the community through 3 main initiatives:

  • Coding challenges open to Yukon youth and the public, using data gathered from YukonSat. For example, students could be challenged to create a collage of satellite images of a certain region of Earth.
  • Coding challenges to transmit and receive short voice recordings. Yukon schools, First Nations, communities, and other groups will have the opportunity to spread their messages to other parts of Canada and the world through a scavenger hunt-style challenge.
  • Data analysis and interpretation completed in Yukon College math and science courses. For example, students could learn about instrumentation, signal processing and data analysis methods while completing an activity to map earth’s magnetic forces using GPS and magnetometer data from a satellite built by their peers.

Academic collaborators:

  • University of Alberta (AB)
  • Aurora College (NT)

Governmental/NGO collaborator:

  • Natural Resources Canada (ON)