Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
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Canadian Space Agency

Canadian Space Agency is no longer available as an eligible location of tenure for new fellows under the Visiting Fellowships in Canadian Government Laboratories Program.

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 enabling 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 This link will take you to another Web site agency’s 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 agency's Web site regularly, and subscribe to the e-mail notification service to be kept informed of activities.

Research Areas

As part of its mandate to innovate, develop and deliver on space science, technology and information, the CSA’s research related activities are done in collaboration with Canadian universities, industry and other federal government department (OGD) research laboratories.  Collaborative research provides benefits to all parties involved; CSA provides a work environment and access to space projects and missions, while the universities, industry or OGD enhance the research and development elements. It will be an asset for a candidate to identify in their research proposals potential collaboration with external organizations.

Space Science and Technology

Engineering Development

Engineering Development (ED) Directorate is the center of technical expertise within the Canadian Space Agency. Engineering Development (ED) has successful collaborations with universities, industries, OGD and international partners.

Related Research

  • Spacecraft guidance, navigation and control systems
  • Space-based structures and testing and verification technologies
  • 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
  • Novel space-based passive and active thermal technologies
  • Optical, and electronic technologies for space applications
  • Active and passive sensors for Earth observation
  • Laser systems
  • Spaceborne power systems
  • Image analysis and data compression


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

Space Exploration

The CSA’s activities in Space Exploration are generally aimed towards the human and robotic exploration of the solar system and space-based astronomical observation of the Universe.  The overarching goals are: (1) Gain knowledge about the solar system and the Universe, increase understanding of the risks of human spaceflight, and develop new approaches to mitigate these risks; (2) Expand Canadian presence in space and on other planets; (3) Maintain and strengthen Canadian signature technologies; and (4) Augment the space exploration stakeholder base.  Consistent with these goals, the Space Exploration department presents the following areas of expertise.

Exploration Development

CSA Space Exploration Development group is responsible for the development of exploration technologies as well as planetary and space astronomy exploration mission concept formulation, requirements definition, feasibility studies, concept development and project implementation support, science operations, mission management and science investigations. This is achieved by collaboration with Canadian universities and industry.


Related 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.

Space Astronomy

Related Research

  • Astronomy and astrophysics related to missions described below
  • Instrumentation (optical, UV, IR, imaging, FIR, sub-mm, spectroscopy, optics)
  • Astronomical data handling and archiving

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 the ground. Space-based telescopes provide scientists with unique astronomical data, allowing them to discover never-before-seen features of galaxies, gas clouds, stars and planets and even exo-planets.

The Space Exploration Program provides support for science investigations as part of its space astronomy missions and projects. 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 an important part in NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the most ambitious space observatory ever, to be launched in 2018; Canada provides the observatory’s Fine Guidance System and a science instrument the Near-InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph. The European Space Agency Herschel and Planck Surveyor missions (2009) are far-infrared and microwave background astronomy missions with Canadian science participation. In the ultraviolet end of the spectrum, Canada had provided the guidance sensor for the NASA FUSE mission; more recently Canada is providing the detector module for the Indian Astrosat UVIT telescope planned for launched in 2014. Canada is contributing a spacecraft instrument to the JAXA ASTRO-H mission, a large X-ray and gamma-ray observatory to be launched in 2014. CSA also contributed to the realization of the BRITE astronomy nano-satellites, dedicated to photometry of the brighter stars. NEOSSat, a space telescope micro-satellite mission will soon be launch to search for near-Earth asteroids.  Each mission has a Canadian science team providing expertise to the mission and addressing the science objectives. Additional information on CSA space astronomy missions can be found on the This link will take you to another Web site CSA Web site.

With strategic planning and consultation with other agencies and the scientific community, This link will take you to another Web site Long Range Plan (LRP), the CSA will consider the development of new missions aligned with Canadian priorities. CSA will support initial activities to maintain competitiveness in order to offer contribution and participation to key future space astronomy missions.

Planetary Exploration

Related Research

Planetary geosciences (including evolution and characterization of the Near Earth Asteroid population); planetary climate, atmospheres and aeronomy; astrobiology; analogue activities; science instrument development, data product development and archiving; planetary protection and contamination control; and, sample documentation and curation related to the planetary science missions described below.By placing instruments on flybys, orbiters, landers and rovers, scientists can address CSA Space Exploration goals for planetary science:

  • The origin and evolution of the solar system: Identify the characteristics of the asteroids and comets that form the building blocks of the solar system, and discover the evolutionary history of the planets, their moons, and their atmospheres.
  • Habitability and life detection: Determine if life is, or ever was, present beyond Earth, focusing on astrobiological investigations of environments that support (or supported) life; find exoplanets and characterize their atmosphere.

CSA has previously contributed the MET investigation to the NASA Mars Phoenix Lander mission which operated in the northern plains of Mars through the second half of 2008, and the APXS investigation to the NASA Curiosity Rover / Mars Science Laboratory Mission which began operations at Gale Crater on Mars in August 2012. MET is a dual wavelength backscatter lidar, with pressure and temperature instrumented mast, designed to investigate Mars atmosphere and climate, The Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer is designed to measure elemental composition of Mars rocks and soils. CSA is also contributing the OSIRIS-Rex Laser Altimeter investigation to the NASA New Frontiers OSIRIS-Rex mission which plans to return samples of asteroid 1999 RQ36 to Earth in 2023, including a portion to Canada. Each mission has a Canadian science team providing expertise to the mission and addressing the science objectives.

Additional information on CSA planetary missions can be found on the This link will take you to another Web site CSA Web site. Data from these investigations are, or will be, publically archived in the This link will take you to another Web site NASA Planetary Data System Web site.

With strategic planning and consultation with other agencies and the scientific community, the CSA will consider the development of new mission contributions aligned with Canadian priorities.  Community consultation on Canadian scientific priorities has been achieved through Canadian Space Exploration Workshops and their proceedings. Please consult the proceedings of the 6th Canadian Space Exploration Workshop (CSEWG) - 2009.

Current CSA priorities are participation in an International Mars Sample Return mission, and precursor missions to the moon or cis-lunar space to develop further capabilities for human exploration, with objectives such as in-situ resource utilisation of lunar polar volatiles. CSA may support contributions to missions to other destinations such as asteroids or outer planet moons if aligned with Canadian science interests and signature technologies such as spectrometers, robotics, drills, optics.

CSA will support initial activities to maintain competitiveness in order to offer contributions and participation to key future planetary exploration missions. Initial activities can include science definition, instrument and technology test, and operations concept development at analogue sites on Earth that ressemble relevant aspects of planetary environments.


Jean-Claude Piedboeuf
Space Exploration Development
Tel.: 450-926-4405
Fax: 450-926-4926

Astronauts, Life Sciences and Space Medicine     

Space Life Sciences  

Related 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 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 to the kidneys and regulation of body fluids. Returning astronauts also experience short-term problems as their bodies readapt to Earth’s gravity. Other interests include the psychological stresses that occur when crews are confined and isolated in spacecraft for long periods of time, and related changes in performance of crew.  

Since transport to and from space is expensive and risky, there is an increasing demand from researchers and clinicians to develop the capability of performing in situ biological sample analysis. This will become exacerbated if human exploration missions extend beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

In this context, The Astronaut, Life Sciences and Space Medicine branch plans to focus on the development of new capabilities in the following fields:

  • Smart Textiles
  • Radiation dosimetry
  • Automated analysis of biological samples (e.g. human saliva)
  • Instruments that can acquire data relevant to both human research and clinical use (e.g. non-invasive devices for measuring intracranial pressure)

Most CSA-sponsored life sciences research occurs as a result of external funding established through open competitive processes, and the research itself takes place outside of the CSA. However, there may be opportunities for Life Sciences activities at the CSA, collaborative with outside entities, for studies that have a programmatic focus (e.g. development of processes for data archiving).

Web site: This link will take you to another Web site Canadian Space Agency - Science


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

Operational Space Medicine

Related 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 and other tools for evaluating and maintaining performance capability in space;
  • understanding and characterization of the radiation environment inside the International Space Station; understanding space radiation effects on space crews, countermeasures development;
  • 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 Canadian Space Agency - Space Medicine


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