Space Science Research - Department of Physics

The Physics Department at RMC pursues research in the field of Space Science, including theoretical, experimental and observational aspects of space mission analysis, mission and payload design, remote sensing, satellite tracking, ionospheric physics and space weather, and astronomy and astrophysics.

Space Surveillance and Satellite Tracking

The Space Surveillance Research and Analysis Laboratory (Dr. Racey ) has, as a primary goal, to foster learning and aid in the development of a Canadian knowledge base in the areas of space science and astronomy. In collaboration with Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), the SSRAL has been an integral part of the Canadian Surveillance of Space Concept Demonstrator (CD) - a fully automated network of small, satellite tracking telescopes across Canada. The primary targets of the CD network are geosynchronous, and Russian Molniya class satellites. However, the optical tracking methods used to observe these satellites can similarly be applied other high-earth orbit satellites such as GPS, and solar system objects such as asteroids and comets.

Astronomy and Astrophysics

Dr. Mac Giolla Chainnigh conducts research which investigates the circumstellar morphology in symbiotic star systems. Symbiotic stars are binary systems in which one component, the "cool component", is a late-type star (e.g. a red giant), and the other component, the "hot component", is a compact object, typically a white dwarf. Current work at RMC involves both observations and theoretical analysis of symbiotic stars.

Dr. Spekkens' research aims to understand the structure and evolution of nearby galaxies in a cosmological context. She is spearheading a variety of projects to help reconcile long-standing discrepancies between the observed properties of spiral galaxies and predictions from galaxy formation theory, and is particularly interested in developing robust techniques for inferring the distribution of dark matter in these systems. Dr. Spekkens is also involved in a large survey effort to map the distribution and kinematics of atomic hydrogen in the local Universe, which enables studies of galaxy evolution in diverse environments and searches for the "starless halos" predicted by cosmology.

Dr Wade investigates the structure, evolution, origin and impact of magnetic fields in stars. His research concentrates on intermediate and high mass stars, which are the evolutionary progenitors of most white dwarfs, neutron stars and stellar-mass black holes. A current focus is to detect and characterise the magnetic fields of pre-main sequence Herbig Ae/Be stars. With this research, Dr. Wade aims to understand the origin of their magnetic fields; the role of magnetic fields in generating their spectroscopic activity and in mediating accretion in their late formative stages; the factors influencing their rotational angular momentum; and the development and evolution of chemical peculiarity in their photospheres.

Ionospheric Physics and Space Weather

Dr. Noel and Maj de Boer investigate the electrodynamics of the auroral ionosphere using These investigations are constrained using satellite in situ measurements and ground-based radar remote sensing.

Remote Sensing

Dr. Joseph Buckley is an expert in remote sensing and the use of radar for environmental measurement. He has worked with marine radar for the estimation of ocean surface currents and has pioneered the use in Canada of marine radar for ocean wave measurement. He is currently involved in Canadian Space Agency sponsored projects involving the use of air- and space-borne polarimetric imaging radars to identify vegetation and changes in vegetation in prairie and boreal forest regions.

Payload and Mission Design for Nanosatellites

Dr. Noel and Dr. Vincent are developing payload instruments and mission concepts for future Can-X nanosatellite missions.



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