Western University’s space institute wins contract to develop ‘the eyes’ of lunar rovers
In what could ultimately represent a flagship Canadian technological contribution for international missions to the moon, Western University has landed a major contract with the Canadian Space Agency to create an Integrated Vision System for future rover missions.
Basically, the university has been chosen to develop the mount that will sit on top of the rover that will collect data about the lunar surface and help determine which samples to bring back home.
Western’s Institute for Earth and Space Exploration, dubbed Western Space, won a bid to develop the panorama camera-style mount that will allow for 360-degree data collection.
The mount will consist of an integrated multi-wavelength LIDAR (light detection and ranging) and multispectral imager. While cameras only allow for images illuminated in sunlight, multispectral imaging with LIDAR could “revolutionize planetary surface operations for both scientific applications and rover guidance, navigation, and control.”
The development of the Integrated Vision System will be done in collaboration with MDA Visions Systems and Sensors.
The bid for the contract was led by Western Space director Gordon “Oz” Osinski, associate director of training and education Jayshri Sabarinathan, and research scientist Livio Tornabene. The project team also includes several post-doctoral and graduate students from the university’s science and engineering faculties.
“Winning this contract marks a major step towards achieving one of our Institute goals of launching Western into Space. The world is focused on returning to the Moon with robots and humans in the next few years,” Osinski said in a statement.
“And to think that Western faculty and students may play an integral role in developing the instrument that will be the eyes of lunar rovers is incredibly exciting.”
The project is funded by the Canadian Space Agency’s Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program (LEAP) which is “preparing Canada’s space sector for humanity’s return to the Moon.”
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