Gordon G.Shepherd

Picture of Gordon Shepherd

Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus

Petrie 205

(416)736-2100 ext. 33221



Gordon G. Shepherd was born in Saskatchewan, Canada and obtained his BSc and MSc degrees at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon before receiving his PhD at the University of Toronto in 1956. He was Assistant and then Associate Professor of Physics at the University of Saskatchewan from 1957 to 1969, during which time, with his students, he conducted ground-based and rocket studies of the aurora. In 1969 Dr. Shepherd became Professor of Physics at York University in Toronto, where he was Principal Investigator of the Red Line Photometer for the ISIS-II spacecraft, launched in 1971. In 2000, he received funds from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation to implement the CRESS Space Instrumentation Laboratory at York University in which new instruments were conceived, fabricated and employed. Dr. Shepherd is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute, and the International Astronautical Federation. During 1991- 93 he was the recipient of a Killam Fellowship. In 1999 he was elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and in 2003 the Canadian Space Agency awarded him the John H. Chapman Award of Excellence. He was co-chair of the PSMOS (Planetary Scale Mesopause Observing System) project of SCOSTEP from 1997 to 2002 and was a member of the Bureau of COSPAR for eight years.  Thirty students have completed their PhDs under his direction. Most recently he received the SCOSTEP Distinguished Scientist Award.

Now emeritus, so not teaching, but conducting research with two graduate students. The major research activity of my career was the conception of a field-widened Michelson interferometer for the measurement of winds in the upper atmosphere. Such an instrument, called WINDII (Wind Imaging Interferometer), designed and built in Canada was flown on NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite from 1991 to 2003. The more than 20 million images are still being analyzed, with more than 100 publications.

Research Interests

  • Instrument development for space measurement of winds, temperatures and airglow emission rates in the upper atmosphere.
  • High latitude measurement of extreme winds, more than 400 m/s, localized at preferred longitudes.
  • Measurement of upper atmospheric temperature using a York designed instrument, built in Germany and currently flying on a Chinese satellite.

Awards & Recognition’s

  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada
  • Fellow of the American Geophysical Union
  • Fellow of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute
  • Recipient of the John H. Chapman Award of Excellence (CSA)
  • SCOSTEP Distinguished Research Scientist award
  • COSPAR William Nordberg Medal

Selected Publications


Spectral Imaging of the Atmosphere, Gordon G. Shepherd, Academic Press, International Geophysics Series. 2002

Canada’s Fifty Years in Space – the COSPAR Anniversary, Gordon G. Shepherd and Agnes Kruchio, Apogee Books, 2008.

Journals and Book Chapters:

  • WINDII Observations and WACCM‐X Simulations of High‐Latitude Winds Under Different Solar Radio Flux and Geomagnetic Disturbance Conditions, Shushi Liu, Gordon G. Shepherd, Yongsheng Chen, Marianna G. Shepherd and Sangay Bhutia, J. Geophys. Res: Space Physics, 124. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019JA026864.
  • Perturbations of O(1D) VER, Temperature, Winds, Atomic Oxygen, and TEC at High Southern Latitudes, Marianna Shepherd, Gordon Shepherd, and Mihail Codrescu, J. Geophys. Res: Space Physics, 124. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019JA026480.
  • High-Latitude Observations of a Localized Wind Wall and Its Coupling to the Lower Thermosphere, Shepherd, Gordon G. and Marianna G. Shepherd, Geophysical Research Letters, 45, 4586–4593. https://doi.org/10.1029/2018GL077722, 2018.
  • WINDII airglow observations of wave superposition and the possible association with historical “bright nights”, Shepherd G, Y.-M. Cho, Geophys. Res. Lett. 44, 13, 7036-7043, 2017.
  • Wind Imaging Interferometer on NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, Gordon Shepherd, Donna-Lee Desaulniers, William Gault, Charles Hersom, Kenneth Smith, Alan Scott, Brian Solheim, Jeffery Wimperis (2015) Chapter 18, Optical Payloads for Space Missions, Ed: Shen-En Qian, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, United Kingdom.
  • Resolving daily wave 4 nonmigrating tidal winds at equatorial and midlatitudes with WINDII: DE3 and SE2, Young-Min Cho and Gordon Shepherd (2015), J. Geophys. Res. Space Physics, 120, doi:10.1002/2015JA021903.
  • The Wind Imaging Interferometer (WINDII) On The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite: A Twenty-Year Perspective, G.G. Shepherd, G. Thuillier, Y.-M. Cho, M.-L. Duboin, W.F.J. Evans, W.A. Gault, C. Hersom, D.-J.-W. Kendall, C. Lathuillère, R.P. Lowe, I.C. McDade, Y.J. Rochon, M.G. Shepherd, B.H. Solheim, D.-Y. Wang, W.E. Ward (2012), Revs. Geophys. 50, RG2007, doi:10.1029/2012RG000390.
  • Tidal Influence on O(1S) Airglow Emission Rate Distribution at the Geographic Equator as Observed by WIN­DII, Shepherd, G.G., C. McLandress and B. H. Solheim Geophys. Res. Lett. 22, 275-278, 1995.
  • WINDII – The Wind Imaging Interferometer on the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, Shepherd, G.G., G. Thuillier, W.A. Gault, B.H. Solheim, C. Hersom, J.M. Alunni, J.-F. Brun, S. Brune, P. Charlot, D.-L. Desaulniers, W.F.J. Evans, F. Girod, D. Harvie, R.H. Hum, D.J.W. Kendall, E.J. Llewellyn, R.P. Lowe, J.Ohrt, F. Pasternak, O. Peillet, I. Powell, Y. Rochon, W.E. Ward, R.H. Wiens, J. Wimperis, J. Geophys. Res. 98, 10,725-10,750, 1993.
  • The ISIS-II Atomic Oxygen Red Line Photometer, Shepherd, G.G., T. Fancott, J. McNally and H.S. Kerr, Appl. Opt. 12, 1767-1774, 1973.