The Honorable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry, recently announced the award of a $43 million contract to Canadensys Aerospace Corporation (Canadensys) of Bolton, Ontario and its industrial and academic partners for the construction of the first Canadian lunar rover.
Among these university partners, we mention the presence of the University of Sherbrooke (UdeS) thanks to the participation of Myriam Lemelin, professor in the Faculty of Humanities and Humanities. The professor from the Institute of Applied Geomatics will be the lead researcher for all things related to the science surrounding the Lyman-Alpha Imager (LAIPI). This instrument will make it possible to determine with greater certainty the presence of water ice on the lunar surface. It will measure the lunar surface reflectance of faint sunlight (or starlight) at 121.6 nm. At this wavelength, water ice has a lower reflectivity than lunar soil.
This data is used, among other things, to work on the selection of landing sites. This preparation will go through different phases ranging from scientific planning and the development of all necessary software tools to support the interpretation of the images of these instruments to participation in simulations and operational exercises.
The UdeS geomatician will also act as deputy principal investigator for the mission lunar rover (LRM).
After a Canadian Space Agency (CSA) competition to determine which Canadian team would build and operate the Canadian lunar rover, Professor Lemelin became involved in the project.
Teams of engineers and scientists formed and promoted. I joined the team led by Canadensys at the time. Two teams won the Phase A contract: the team led by Canadensys and a team led by MDA. At the end of this contract, the CSA reviewed the progress of the two teams and the two teams submitted a project proposal for further development of the rover. The team led by Canadensys, to which I belong, was selected. Our team will therefore build and operate the rover. I’ve been working with Canadensys on this project for about 2 years.
Myriam Lemelin, Principal Investigator of the Lyman Alpha Imager Component (LAIPI) and Professor in the Department of Applied Geomatics
Through close collaboration between NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, the Canadian lunar rover will be sent to the moon as part of NASA’s commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative. It is expected to land in the moon’s south polar region as early as 2026.
This is the first time a Canadian rover has explored the moon and is contributing to the international search for water ice, a key element for the future of human space exploration. This rover is the culmination of decades of refinement in rover design and growing Canadian expertise in the field. It will inspire a whole generation to take an interest in exploring distant Solar System targets like Mars.
Six science payloads (five Canadian and one American) will be carried on the rover. The mission is a technological demonstration but also allows for testing of these payloads, which should lay the groundwork for Canada’s upcoming lunar exploration. Through this agreement, Canadensys will continue to innovate in technical areas where Canada excels, such as: B. Robotics, advanced image processing technology and scientific instruments.
Constructing a rover capable of withstanding the lunar hostile environment is very complex, but today we have proof that Canada’s space sector is up to the great challenge and ready to exceed expectations. This would not have been possible without the ambition and skills of our talented Canadian staff. With this extraordinary future mission, Canadensys and its partners are cementing Canada’s reputation as a world leader in space.
The Honorable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry
A couple of facts
- The rover will be able to travel and operate in polar regions of the moon that never receive direct sunlight. It is designed to withstand long moonlit nights when the temperature can drop below -200°C.
- The Canadian Space Agency’s Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program (LEAP) was created to provide a wide range of opportunities for Canadian science and technology activities in lunar orbit, on the lunar surface and in space.
- LEAP has a $150 million budget to help companies develop space technologies and demonstrate them in space to create commercial opportunities in Canada.
- Canada’s rover expertise has grown over time. More than 40 Canadian companies and universities have worked together to build the fleet of ground rover prototypes and rigorously test these prototypes under a variety of conditions, including mission simulations.