Gordon G.Shepherd

Professor Emeritus of Space Science

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.

Research Interests

The upper atmosphere, in the region from 80 to 300 km, is where solar energy input first begins to interact with the atmosphere, producing optical emission known as airglow, and aurora. With specialized instrumentation, this emitted light can be used as a diagnostic tool to determine the properties of the atmosphere in this region. With support from NSERC, and the Canadian Space Agency, the Doppler Michelson Interferometer technique was developed for spectral imaging of the atmosphere, yielding images of optical emission rate, temperature and wind. As Principal Investigator for WINDII, the Wind Imaging Interferometer, a joint Canada-France instrument was placed in orbit from 1991 to 2003 on NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite and acquired 23 million images of the atmosphere. The results are still providing exciting new information on the dynamics of the upper atmosphere, and how these dynamics influence the distribution of atmospheric species in the region. Ground-based instruments have also used, and an optical observatory was operated at Resolute Bay, in Northern Canada to study the polar upper atmosphere.  More recently a derivative of WINDII, the Spectral Heterodyne Spectrometer (SHS) has been developed and flown on a high altitude balloon for the measurement of water vapour in the lower atmosphere. Currently a collaboration with Germany is in place, intended to lead to the launch of a Cubesat satellite carrying an SHS instrument to measure waves in the upper atmosphere.

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:

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.