$1.1 million towards a new Canadian space telescope – Western University and Bishop’s University research team

$1.1 million towards a new Canadian space telescope – Western University and Bishop’s University research team

Dr. Jason RoweDr. Jason Rowe, Canada Research Chair in Exoplanetary Astrophysics at Bishop’s University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and, Dr. Stanimir Metchev, Canada Research Chair in Extrasolar Planets at Western University’s Institute for Earth and Space Exploration are the recipients of a $1.1 million (tax included) contract from the Canadian Space Agency to develop the prototype of what could become Canada’s next space telescope mission.

If the project’s development goes as planned, the Photometric Observations of Extrasolar Transits mission (POET as it is provisionally titled) could be in orbit, characterizing known extrasolar planets, or perhaps even discovering Earth-like exoplanets, by 2026. Unlike the Hubble Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope, which are collaborations between different space agencies, POET would be entirely Canadian-funded and Canadian-built.

“The Canadian Astronomical Society recently-published decadal report includes an endorsement for a new Canadian space telescope mission,” points out Dr. Metchev, Co-Principal Investigator of the project. “The proposed mission to detect and study extrasolar planets received high ranking in the small-mission category, and could be Canada’s next space telescope.”

The two main goals of the POET mission are to measure the extent and composition of the atmosphere of extrasolar planets closely orbiting their stars, and to detect Earth-like, potentially-habitable planets around the nearest, dimmest and coolest stars, which offer the best chance of detecting signs of possible life on other planets.

“We are very pleased to see the Canadian Space Agency support this project through their Space Technology Development Program, along with ABB and the University of Toronto Space Flight Laboratory (UTIAS-SFL),” indicates Dr. Rowe, who is the Principal Investigator. “A new Canadian space telescope would be an invaluable tool to discover even more about the many planetary systems that have been discovered beyond our own solar system in recent years.”

UTIAS-SFL would provide the spacecraft, and ABB the telescope and control systems. Unlike the other space telescopes referenced above, which are collaborative efforts designed to support many different scientific missions, POET would be dedicated to its two very specific missions, making the project nimble and cost-effective.



Jeffrey Renaud
Senior Media Relations Officer
Western University
519-661-2111 ext. 85165

Olivier Bouffard
Communications Director
Bishop’s University
819-822-9600 ext. 2840