Source: University of Waterloo
COM DEV delivers key instrument for Europe's deep space observatory, UW scientist leads research team
October 13, 2006
(Friday, Oct. 13, 2006) -- Canada's largest manufacturer of space hardware
subsystems is today unveiling a key component of an international satellite
that will, among other things, search for water in the deepest reaches of
COM DEV International Ltd. (TSX:CDV) is delivering a Local Oscillator Source
Unit (LSU) to the Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON), for
integration into the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory. The
Canadian Space Agency financed the $10-million cost of designing and
building the LSU.
In exchange for Canada's contributions to the Herschel Mission, a team of
Canadian scientists, led by Michel Fich, a University of Waterloo physics
professor, will have access to the observatory's research capabilities. All
revenue from the project has been recognized by COM DEV over the past
Herschel, dubbed the Hubble of longwaves and scheduled to launch by 2008,
will inaugurate a new generation of space telescopes.
The huge observatory will be deployed 1.5 million kilometres away from
Earth, in a very cold and dark environment. Its 3.5-metre mirror will
collect light from distant and poorly known objects, such as newborn
galaxies thousands of millions of light-years away. Herschel will be
equipped with three very sensitive instruments kept at temperatures close to
The COM DEV-built LSU is a very efficient low-noise stable frequency
standard, emitting a reference frequency, somewhat like a tuning fork does
for musicians. This unit will be at the "heart" of the Heterodyne Instrument
for the Far Infrared (HIFI), one of Herschel's three instruments.
"The LSU project is a very important civil space mandate for the company,"
said John Keating, CEO of COM DEV. "It has very demanding technical
requirements for frequency synthesis that may offer some leverage into the
commercial space market. We are also pleased to participate in a program
which contributes to the expansion of human knowledge, a key element of our
Fich leads a team of some 30 astronomers from institutions across Canada who
will use HIFI to search for water in the Universe. They will look for the
H2O chemical signature in extremely young solar systems, in dense
interstellar clouds where stars are just beginning to form, and in other
galaxies. HIFI will also be used to study many other simple molecules in the
first detailed astrochemistry mission in space.
"Herschel will be a major space observatory, much like the Hubble Space
Telescope. However, it will work at the longer wavelengths of light, where
the processes creating planets, stars and galaxies become visible," Fich
said. "Canadian astronomers will use HIFI, the high resolution instrument on
Herschel, to make the first detailed studies of water, the basic molecule of
life, in all of these parts of the Universe."
The Canadian Space Agency also supports the acquisition of ground equipment
and the design of data analysis software for the calibration of SPIRE --
another instrument onboard Herschel. Canada's contribution to Spectral and
Photometric Imaging Receiver (SPIRE) is led by professsor David Naylor, of
the University of Lethbridge.
"Canada is proud to contribute to the ESA's Herschel Space Observatory by
helping to design and operate two of the telescope's three scientific
instruments, HIFI and SPIRE," said Dr. Virendra Jha, vice-president,
science, technology and programs at the Canadian Space Agency. "Herschel
will embark on one of the most exciting space astronomy missions of the next
decade by trying to solve the mystery of how stars and galaxies are born.
Canada's astronomy community will benefit significantly from our involvement
in this major international space science mission."
About COM DEV
COM DEV International Ltd. (www.comdev.ca) based in Cambridge, Ont., is the
largest Canadian-based designer and manufacturer of space hardware
COM DEV, with facilities in Canada and the United Kingdom, manufactures
advanced products and subsystems that are sold to major satellite prime
contractors for use in communications, space science, remote sensing and