Canada broadcasts live from space

By David Kenney

A pioneering Canadian space project studying the origin of the universe has some of its roots at the University of Calgary.

Last Tuesday’s launch of the Odin astronomical satellite marks the debut of tuneable high-frequency radio in space to examine celestial objects. The two year, multi- million dollar satellite will orbit the earth and study water and oxygen molecules in space to gain insights into the history of the universe.

The project is revolutionary since it is the first astronomical satellite designed, built and run with extensive input from Canada.

After 10 years of extensive involvement with getting Odin up in space, Dr. Sun Kwok, Killiam Fellow of the Canada Council for the Arts, is thrilled about the launch and potential for scientific discovery.

"I am very happy at this time," said Kwok. "[I felt] a mixture of relief and pride. Relieved is the word because these space things are tricky."

Involved in the project are University of Calgary professors Kwok, Dr. Steve Torchinsky and Dr. Kevin Volk. Joining Kwok in data processing research in summer are two to three students.

"There is a chance for students to do frontier science," said Kwok, a physics and astronomy professor.

Researchers involved with the project will also investigate the effects of pollution and interstellar chemistry. Odin’s high-
frequency radio waves cannot be used from Earth due to the atmosphere’s blocking of radiation.

The Odin project is a collaborative effort between Canada, Sweden, France and Russia. Torchinsky and Volk are currently in Stockholm, Sweden and will monitor the flight performance of Odin at the Swedish Space Corporation for the next three months.

Other Canadian Universities participating in the project include the University of Waterloo, St. Mary’s University, McMaster University and Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics.