Satellites provide a unique perspective of our planet. They support cutting-edge science, and enable applications and services in many areas critical to the health and well-being of Canadians. For more than 50 years, Canadian experts have been using satellites to monitor our environment from space. As the effects of climate change in Canada are increasingly clear, satellites can gather essential information more effectively than ever before to help us better understand and protect our planet.
Accordingly, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is investing $8 million in 21 organizations across Canada to advance innovative applications through the use of satellite data. An event was held to announce this funding, delivered through the smartEarth initiative, and to highlight the newly released Resourceful, Resilient, Ready: Canada’s Strategy for Satellite Earth Observation.
Canadian Space Agency promotes the development of innovative applications
With the smartEarth initiative, the CSA promotes the development of innovative applications to help meet various needs on Earth, while enhancing the expertise and growth of Canada’s space sector. The global satellite Earth observation market is estimated at US$3.3 billion and is expected to grow to US$7.2 billion over the next decade.
Since the first satellite was launched into orbit in 1957, space technology has evolved rapidly. Today, a growing number of satellites orbit around the Earth, making various Earth observation, communications, navigation and science applications possible. While we may not always realize or acknowledge their existence, the important role these systems play in our daily lives cannot be underestimated. They contribute considerably to our well-being and enable us to achieve our objectives in new and innovative ways.
Every single day, Canadian and international satellites are meeting the needs of multiple users, in Canada and around the world. From space, they provide information and services to support global communications, the economy, security and defence, safety and emergency management, the environment and health.
As technology advances, the potential of satellites will undoubtedly continue to grow. New markets will emerge along with new opportunities to push the boundaries of what space technology currently offers.
Why use satellites to observe the Arctic?
The Arctic has a unique biodiversity, with a variety of wildlife, national wildlife areas and migratory bird sanctuaries. Its snowy peaks and ice floes act as air conditioners for our planet. Its numerous natural resources, including several large mineral deposits, can only be developed by preserving this ecosystem, which has already been heavily affected by climate change.
The Canadian North and the Arctic are a vast region of ice and snow, and the home of people with rich and diverse cultures. This region is home to iconic wildlife, such as the polar bear, the walrus and the caribou. Its waters abound with marine mammals, fish, mollusks and crustaceans. Its night sky is lit up with multicoloured auroras, which can impact communications and infrastructures. Its underground is bursting with minerals such as diamonds, gold, platinum, iron and uranium. Many scientists believe that nearly a third of the world’s gas and petroleum resources are hidden there.
Scientists, governments and indigenous nations use satellite data to make the best possible decisions to meet the needs of communities in the North and diversify the local economy while simultaneously preserving biodiversity.
smartEarth Program sees renewed funding for Earth Observation applications development
smartEarth is the Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA) renewed funding initiative related to Earth observation applications development. It fosters a smart use of satellite data to develop solutions to key challenges on Earth and in our everyday lives.
Funding opportunities are provided through three different tracks: the Accelerator, the Integrator and the Enabler.
smartEarth replaces the CSA’s Earth Observation Application Development Program (EOADP), Government Related Initiatives Program (GRIP), and Science and Operational Applications Research (SOAR) Program.
Request for proposals: smartWhales
As a result of a request for proposals published in June 2020, the Government of Canada is investing $5.3 million in five companies to advance solutions, using satellite data, that could help detect and monitor the presence of North Atlantic right whales (NARWs) in Canadian waters and predict their movements.
To fuel innovation and maximize the sharing of knowledge and expertise, each company has built a team of experts, including external collaborators from academia and non-government organizations, to carry out their projects.
The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is leading smartWhales in collaboration with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Transport Canada.
These projects fall under two streams: detection and monitoring of the NARW; and prediction and modelling of NARW behaviour and movement in their habitat.