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Satellites to aid sustainability efforts as part of gov’t program

The federal government has announced $8 million in funding for 21 organizations to advance applic...

IMAGE: Cover the Canadian government's report on satellite observation

The cover of the Canadian government’s satellite earth observation report. (Courtesy Government of Canada)

The federal government has announced $8 million in funding for 21 organizations to advance applications which focus on Earth observation challenges and sustainable development priorities.

The funding will be delivered through the Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA) smartEarth initiative.

The announcement was accompanied by the release of a report, Resourceful, Resilient, Ready: Canada’s Strategy for Satellite Earth Observation (EO).

“Today, revolutionary new applications, from measuring Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions in increasing detail to identifying populations vulnerable to diseases and disaster, are emerging across government, industry, and academia,” the report states.

“Over the next 15 years, this strategy will guide efforts to generate the skills and economic opportunities needed to take advantage of these abilities.”

Companies receiving smartEarth funds

The federal funding ranges from $150,000 to $500,000.

Some examples include:

– almost $500,000 to A.U.G. Signals Ltd. for developing technology to reliably estimate snow water, which will help monitor and forecast potential snowmelt flooding by utilizing RADARSAT Constellation Mission data;

– $400,000 to St. John’s-based C-CORE to develop the world’s first high-resolution offshore platform GHG emissions satellite monitoring; and

– $298,514 given to Quebec City’s Geosapiens Inc. The company aims to improve knowledge and management of flood risks through its enhanced E-NUNDATION web-based platform.

The CSA is also providing $5.3 million to five companies for the detection, tracking and forecasting of North American right whales in Canadian waters. They are Hatfield Consultants Ltd. in Calgary, Global Spatial Technology Solutions Inc. of Dartmouth, Fluvial Systems Research Inc. in White Rock, B.C., Arctus Inc. in Toronto and WSP Canada Inc. of Montreal.

The strategy outlined in the report is designed to:

– enable innovation by increasing the ease of access to open satellite EO data from Canadian and international government satellites;

– facilitate collaboration between satellite EO stakeholders across the sector, from satellite and antenna manufacturers, to data handlers and product developers;

– strengthen international cooperation with key partners and expand opportunities for Canadian companies and researchers;

– create opportunities for the development of innovative business solutions to address priorities of the GC and Canadians; and

– instill confidence and stability in industry and academia by outlining long-term priorities for the government, allowing industry to shape their business plans and academia to foster necessary skills.

One such example of EO technology is the Canadian Crop Yield Forecaster (CCYF), which uses a mix of satellite and climate information to forecast crop yields during and after the growing season. This information is critical to agricultural monitoring, as it affects both economic forecasting and the climate risks to agricultural production.

The report states increased use of EO technology in agriculture could lead to $1.3 billion in cost savings over the next decade.

“The data we gather from space about greenhouse gas emissions, weather patterns, and ice coverage in our North, is key to effective climate action. In order to be effective in tackling climate change, we must harness the power of space technology to properly identify and measure sources of emissions,” said minister of environment and climate change Steven Guilbeault in a press release.

Financial benefits

The global satellite earth observation market is estimated at $4.2 billion and forecast to hit almost $9.2 billion over the next decade. Canadian satellite and ground station manufacturing for earth observation accounts for $130 million in direct revenues annually.

Given that 90 per cent of weather data is received from space, EO technology will play an important role in mitigating climate disasters.

Previously, the 2021 federal budget had announced an investment of $90 million to capitalize on earth observation, while a recent funding of $20 million was announced for Canadian company GHGSat.

Last November, the Montreal-based company became the first to provide high-quality satellite emissions data to the UN’s International Methane Emissions Observatory. It’s also on track to launch three of its satellites on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket as part of the Transporter-5 mission this summer.

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