2016 KASA Balloon Campaign in Kiruna, Sweden


In the first week of September 2016, three Canadian payloads flew on a stratospheric balloon that performed a 10-hour mission at an altitude of 34 km in Kiruna, Sweden. The primary payload, 2-D Imaging Fabry-Pérot Spectrometer, is jointly developed by York University and MPB Communications Inc., the Fabry-Pérot spectrometer can obtain very high spectral resolution measurements. It views sunlight that is absorbed and scattered by the atmosphere and reflected by the Earth’s surface. This provides information on aerosols, surface pressure and surface albedo. Dr. Jinjun Shan, Professor of Space Engineering in ESSE is the principal investigator (PI) of this project funded by the Canadian Space Agency, under its Flights for the Advancement of Science and Technology (FAST) program in 2014. Dr. Gordon Shepherd and Dr. Chris Sioris from ESSE are the Co-Is of this project. A group of science and engineering researchers have contributed to the development of this instrument.

The stratospheric balloon took off few minutes before 7am local time (1 am EDT) on Saturday September 3 at Esrange Space Center, near Kiruna, Sweden. It landed around 2:15pm in Northern Finland, and the instrument was successfully recovered before 8pm. Observation data analysis is still on going, but the flight mission has been very successful. During the 8-hour flight, key technologies of Fabry-Pérot spectrometer have been demonstrated and validated. Those technologies could readily be implemented on a future satellite mission.

by Dr. Jinjun Shan                                                                                                                               Images provided by Dr. Jinjun Shan


Photo of York/CSA team with FPS instrument. From left to right: Prof. Jinjun Shan (York), Mr. Steeve Montminy (CSA), Dr. Ryan Orszulik (University of Magdeburg, Germany), Dr. Chris Sioris (York), Mohammed Kagalwala (York), Mike Voutsogiannakis (York), Dr. Yuan Ren (York), and Philippe Vincent (CSA).

OSIRIS REX Asteroid Mission Launch

On September 8th, NASA’s OSIRIS REX (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security and Regolith Explorer) mission was launched successfully from Cape Canaveral. It took off at  7.05pm EST.

With the funding by the Canadian Space Agency, Professor Mike Daly has been the lead researcher behind the OLA laser altimeter. The high-powered laser will be used to map asteroid Bennu as part of the mission’s goal to bring a sample back to Earth. The mission is scheduled to be completed in 2022.

On the day of the launch, Lassonde has hosted a celebration, where York University leaders, Lassonde faculty members, students, alumni, and industry participants have given remarks about space engineering research.


Osiris-REX is bound for asteroid Bennu (http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-blogs/)astronomy-space-david-dickinson/osiris-rex-bennu-bound/astronauts/)

Asteroids, podcast on the CBC

Click here to listen to the original podcast.

On June 2, 2016, NASA confirmed the bright burst of light over Arizona skies to be an asteroid exploding — a mere 90 kilometers above the earth. This came just a few days after another asteroid event in Mexico, where sonic booms and bright flashes marked an asteroid’s entry into the earth’s atmosphere.

These recent close calls have brought attention to those scientific voices urging the world to pay more attention to asteroids, and the threat they pose.

‘[Stopping an asteroid from hitting us] would certainly be in my view one of the most momentous events in human history.’ – Brent Barbee, Aerospace Engineer with NASA

On The Current, the likelihood of a catastrophic asteroid hitting Earth is discussed, the impact it would have, and the work that is being done to avoid such an event.

‘We actually have in principle the means and the technology to stop one of these asteroids from hitting us.’ –  Brent Barbee, Aerospace Engineer with NASA

  • Michael Daly, York University research chair in Planetary Science, and lead scientist on a NASA asteroid mission.
  • Brent Barbee, an Aerospace Engineer with NASA.