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A Japanese scientific studies satellite that became operational in 1989. It contained only one non-Japanese instrument: Canada's Suprathermal Ion Mass Spectrometer, sent to investigate the Earth's outer atmosphere.

Canada's first satellite. Alouette, an atmospheric studies satellite, brought Canada into the space age. With its launch on September 29, 1962, Canada became the third country in the world to have a satellite in orbit, after the Soviet Union and the United States.

angle of inclination:
The angle at which a satellite's orbit is tilted in relation to the Earth's equator. A 90 degree angle of inclination is a polar orbit. A zero degree angle of inclination is an equatorial orbit.

anechoic chamber:
Also called an "echo free" chamber. A room at the David Florida Laboratory where satellites are tested to make sure they are sending and receiving clear signals. Anechoic chambers duplicate the silence of space, where there is no medium (like air or water) through which the sound waves can travel. The walls of the anechoic chambers are made of carbon compound pyramids which absorb any microwave and radio signals that hit them.

Anik A:
A communications satellite launched by Telesat Canada in 1972. Anik A made Canada the first country in the world to have a satellite in geostationary orbit for domestic communications purposes. Anik A improved telephone and television communications, bringing Canadians closer together.

Anik B:
A communications satellite launched by the firm Telesat Canada on Dec 16, 1978 to replace the Anik A satellites. The purpose of the Anik satellites was to improve communications across Canada, especially for those Canadians living in remote areas.

Anik E:
A communications satellite launched by the firm Telesat Canada in 1991. Anik E was a series of two satellites - Anik E1 and Anik E2. They are the fifth generation of Anik satellites, and they are still a large part of Canadian communications.

A piece of equipment that allows transmission and reception of radio signals. Satellites need antennas to communicate with Earth. A satellite may need to receive instructions and transmit the information it collects, or it may relay the information sent to it to another site on Earth. Since the information is transmitted using radio waves, which move at the speed of light, this method allows for very fast communications (only a very small time lag).

A small hole. Usually with reference to a camera, the aperture is the hole in a camera that allows light to hit film. The amount of light that gets through the aperture determines what a picutre will look like.

astronomy satellite:
A telescope orbiting the Earth. An astronomy satellite's vision is not clouded by the gases that make up the Earth's atmosphere, unlike that of telescopes on Earth. Astronomy satellites study stellar phenomenona like black holes, quasars, and distant galaxies. These are not to be confused with space exploration satellites, which also study these phenomena.

The many layers of gases that surround a planet. The Earth's atmosphere is composed of several layers of gases that separate our planet from space. The major gases in the Earth's atmosphere are nitrogen and oxygen. The air we breathe is part of the atmosphere.

atmospheric studies satellite:
A type of scientific satellite that studies the Earth's atmosphere. They were some of the very first satellites launched into space, including Canada's first satellite Alouette.

The position in space of a spacecraft or aircraft. A satellite's attitude can be measured by the angle the satellite makes with the object it is orbiting, usually the Earth. Attitude determines the direction a satellite's instruments face. The attitude of a satellite must be constantly maintained; this is known as attitude control.

attitude control:
Stabilizing a satellite's attitude (direction) in its orbit. Attitude control can be done by spinning the satellite, or by having it remain stabilized in three axes using an internal gyroscope and thrusters.

aurora borealis:
Also known as the northern lights. They are streams of coloured light that appear in the northern night sky, often in the winter. They are caused by disturbances in the ionosphere.

Auroral Imager:
A Canadian Space Agency instrument aboard the Swedish scientific satellite Viking in 1986. It measures the direction, the energy, and the type of particles hitting the Earth.

black hole:
A region of space where gravity is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape. Black holes with over a million times the sun's mass are found in quasars.

The non-technical term for a satellite's bus.

Brazil contracted the Canadian firm Spar Aerospace Ltd. to build Brazilsat 1 and 2. This series of satellites was intended to give Brazil the ability to communicate within the entire country by satellite for the first time. Brazilsat 1 was launched on February 8, 1985 on a French Ariane 3 rocket.

The body of a satellite. The bus holds all of the scientific equipment and other necessary components of the satellite. The bus of a satellite is made of a variety of materials that are selected to protect the satellite from things like collisions, a build-up of electric charge, extreme temperatures, and radiation.

The nickname for Spar Aerospace's SRMS (Space shuttle Remote Manipulator System). The first Canadarm was a gift from Canada to NASA's space shuttle program; NASA subsequently bought Canadarms to equip the rest of the shuttle fleet. The Canadarm is used during shuttle flights to release satellites into orbit, retrieve them if they malfunction, and aid in their repair.

Canadian Space Agency (CSA):
A central agency created in 1990 to bring together the existing space activities of the Canadian federal government. The CSA manages projects such as Radarsat, the Mobile Servicing System (MSS) (Canada's contribution to the International Space Station), the Astronaut Program, the David Florida Laboratory, the Space Science Program, and Canada's cooperation with international partners such as NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). The CSA's mandate is to promote the peaceful use and development of space for the social and economic benefit of Canadians.

Chapman, John:
The leader of the team from Canada's Defence Research Telecommunications Establishment that designed and constructed Canada's first satellite, Alouette.

charge coupled device (CCD):
A highly sensitive camera, this counts individual photons of light to put together an image. It can take very detailed photographs of small areas.

charged particle:
Also known as an ion.

cold plasma analyzer:
An instrument on board the Swedish scientific satellite Freja. By sweeping its sensor through plasma, it obtains measurements of the charged particles in a layer of the atmosphere, the magnetosphere and upper ionosphere, and thus helps scientists understand Earth's atmosphere and how to protect it from pollutants.

communications satellite:
A type of satellite used for communications on Earth by allowing radio, television, and telephone transmissions to be sent live anywhere in the world. Before satellites, transmissions were difficult or impossible at long distances. The signals, which travel in straight lines, could not bend around the round Earth to reach a destination far away. Because communications satellites are in orbit, the signals can be sent instantaneously into space and then redirected to another satellite or directly to their destination.

Allows electricity to travel through it well. Conductors are conductive.

A material that carries an electrical charge. Conductors are conductive.

Cospas-Sarsat satellites:
Search and rescue satellites in polar orbit. The Cospas-Sarsat system is a partnership between several countries including the United States, Canada, and Russia. The first satellite in the Cospas-Sarsat system was launched in 1982, and by 1984 the system was operational.

Frozen at extremely low temperatures. The field of cryogenics is attempting to produce temperatures as close to absolute zero as possible. Absolute zero is the temperature at which molecules stop moving altogether.

The Canadian Space Agency.

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