BRAMPTON, Ont. — NASA announced today that the Scout Mission "Phoenix," that
includes a sophisticated instrumentation package developed by a team of Canadian
scientists and engineers, has been selected to go to Mars in 2007.

The focus of the Canadian team will be on studies of the Martian atmosphere
using laser radar (lidar) technology. Researchers from York University, headed
by Dr. Allan Carswell, Professor Emeritus at York and Chairman of Optech
Incorporated, will lead the Canadian scientific investigations in collaboration
with scientists from several other Canadian universities.

"This is a wonderful recognition of Canada’s leading role in atmospheric science
and the advancement of lidar technology." said Dr. Carswell.

The Canadian weather sensing system will be provided by Brampton, Ontario-based
MD Robotics, a subsidiary of MacDonald Dettwiler, supported by the world-leading
lidar technology of Toronto-based Optech Incorporated.

"We are excited about the significant contribution that Canadian technology will
play in the exploration of Mars," said Dr. Christian Sallaberger, director of
space exploration at MD Robotics. "We look forward to sharing this adventure
with our US partners."

In December of 2002 NASA selected for further investigation four candidate
missions, judged to have the highest science value, from a submission of 25
proposals for the 2007 Mars Scout program. Phoenix was one of these and in early
2003 a team of U.S. and Canadian researchers was funded by NASA and the Canadian
Space Agency to prepare a detailed proposal for the 2007 mission. This proposal
has just been accepted.

"Our congratulations go out to both Canadian teams, Marvel and Phoenix, who came
to the forefront of this international competition." said Marc Garneau,
President of the Canadian Space Agency. "Today’s announcement, NASA’s selection
of the Phoenix team for the Mars 2007 Scout Mission is recognition of Canada’s
world renowned technology and leading space science expertise", he added.

The Principal Investigator of Phoenix is Dr. Peter Smith, University of Arizona
Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. In June 2008 Phoenix will land a craft on the
surface of Mars to search for habitable zones and to study the history of water
on Mars. It aims to follow the water and measure "indicator" molecules at
high-latitude sites where the earlier Mars Odyssey Mission has discovered
evidence of large ice concentrations in the Martian soil. This region is one of
the few places on Mars that presents the possibility of the periodic presence of
liquid water as orbital dynamics change the regional climate.

The Phoenix team will use a robotic arm to excavate a trench and retrieve
samples for geological and chemical analysis. Instruments sensitive to minute
quantities of organic molecules will enable an assessment of the habitability of
the icy layer for microbial life, past and present. The Canadian team will
conduct climate studies that will provide information on the present-day
environment, including the local water vapor flux in and out of the surface
layer. Past climates can be inferred from clues in the trench walls.

The Phoenix mission will fly on a lander originally prepared for a mission
canceled in 2001. This lander provides a highly reliable means to soft-land on
Mars since it includes the capability for guided entry and hazard avoidance
using camera and lidar observations. Optech’s planetary landing lidar
technology, developed in association with CSA and MD Robotics, could also
contribute to the success of this landing capability. Phoenix researchers come
from a number of U.S. universities and government agencies as well as from
Canada, Germany and Switzerland.

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