MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (“MDA” or the “Company”) (TSX:MDA), a global communications and information company, is pleased to announce funding support to the University of Calgary of CA$1.7 million, in addition to providing engineering support for operations and services for the highly successful e-POP payload, the science instruments that collectively form the scientific payload, on CASSIOPE. The CAscade SmallSat and IOnospheric Polar Explorer satellite has been successfully supporting scientific research since its launch on September 29, 2013.

Norman Hannaford, MDA’s general manager responsible for this business said, “The funding has a twofold purpose: it allows the University to continue the operations of CASSIOPE for an additional two years, and furthers the University’s use of the data gathered from the mission.” Hannaford further added, “Expanding collaboration between industry and academia benefits us all and this funding supports future opportunities for careers in technology, fosters leadership among Canada’s researchers, and provides the foundation to keep Canada as a leader in international science and technology fields.”

“MDA’s support will allow our researchers to continue to collect e-POP satellite information, providing deeper insights into space weather and its effects,” noted John Reynolds, (acting) vice-president research at the University of Calgary. “New Earth-Space Technologies is a priority research area for UCalgary, and this support provides our researchers and students an opportunity to contribute to Canada’s scientific and industrial leadership in space technologies.

CASSIOPE has been a multi-purpose mission, hosting nine different payloads for space environment research and telecommunications. Since the satellite’s launch in 2013, scientists, led by the University of Calgary, have used the satellite’s data to provide information on space storms in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and their impacts on radio communications, GPS navigation, satellites and other technologies. 

“We have come a long way in three years and will go an even longer way during the extended operations because the new funding will be supporting many of our students and young researchers who work on exciting space weather research projects using the scientific data,” said Andrew Yau, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Calgary, mission scientist and project leader.

“I would like to congratulate MDA for their continued support of research excellence in conjunction with the University ‎of Calgary on the CASSIOPE ‎program. These type of partnerships are key to ensuring Canada continues to excel in research and innovation.” – Honourable Kent Hehr, Member of Parliament for Calgary Centre.


CASSIOPE’s scientific payload suite, collectively called e-POP (enhanced Polar Outflow Probe), has been observing the ionosphere (the region of the upper atmosphere, from about 85 km to 600 km altitude).  Of e-POP’s eight science instruments, the University of Calgary’s instruments include an ion detector, an electron detector and a fast-auroral imager for capturing images of the aurora borealis (Norther Lights). It flies in a slightly elliptical orbit that goes back and forth, over the equator, from the north to the south Polar Regions.

This innovative scientific payload forms a key element of the Canadian Space Agency’s science program and involves contributions from 10 Canadian universities, two U.S. universities, and three research organizations.

“The different phenomena of space weather, such as the aurora borealis, and plasma density irregularities, are often highly structured and rapidly pulsating. They are also intricately connected,” added Yau. “Until e-POP, we really haven’t had the suitable combination of instrumentation and necessary measurement resolution capability to study these different phenomena. E-POP has allowed us to make significant headway in our understanding, but there’s still a lot more to discover.”

Scientists hope to collect data from the e-POP instruments for another 18 months, although CASSIOPE is designed to last for another 24 months before its orbit decays and the satellite re-enters Earth’s atmosphere and burns up.

“There has been increasing interest in the e-POP data among our international colleagues, which is great as it gives our students the opportunity to collaborate with the global space community,” said Yau.

MDA led a Canadian industrial team that included the Winnipeg, Manitoba division of Magellan Aerospace, COM DEV International of Cambridge, Ontario, and the University of Calgary in the development of the CASSIOPE mission. The CASSIOPE mission was developed with the support of the Canadian Space Agency and the Industrial Technologies Office at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada through its former funding program, Technology Partnerships Canada.

About MDA

MDA is a global communications and information company providing operational solutions to commercial and government organizations worldwide.

MDA’s business is focused on markets and customers with strong repeat business potential, primarily in the Communications sector and the Surveillance and Intelligence sector. In addition, the Company conducts a significant amount of advanced technology development.

MDA’s established global customer base is served by more than 4,800 employees operating from 13 locations in the United States, Canada, and internationally.

The Company’s common shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol “MDA.”

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About the University of Calgary

The University of Calgary is making tremendous progress on its journey to become one of Canada’s top five research universities, where research and innovative teaching go hand in hand, and where we fully engage the communities we both serve and lead. This strategy is called Eyes High, inspired by the university’s Gaelic motto, which translates as ‘I will lift up my eyes.’

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