Future of Space Astronomy in Canada Workshop

When: November 6-7 2018
Where: Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada

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RATIONALE

This 2-day workshop will bring together all stakeholders (academia, industry, the Canadian Space Agency) to discuss the participation of Canada in future space astronomy projects of all scales and wavelengths. The goal is to stimulate ideas and plans for the forthcoming Long Range Plan 2020. This will be an opportunity to hear about the status of ongoing and future space astronomy projects and to discuss current issues with CSA funding among other topics.

The workshop style of this event will foster informal discussions and debates. Only approximately 50% of the workshop will be dedicated to formal presentations. While we strongly encourage participation in person, remote participation will be possible.

CONCLUSIONS & TALKING POINTS (written by the SOC)

  • The top-level mandate for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) includes scientific use of space*. This has dwindled greatly over the past decade or more. Space science missions take at least a decade to prepare and last typically that long. There are no committed new space astronomy missions for the future at all, after years of study contracts.
  • Canadian astronomers are highly active and organised, with a carefully balanced decadal plan that is within the normal range for a country this size. Space is an essential element of such plans.
  • The lack of long-term committed funding for space science is incapacitating future plans and collaborations.  Canada’s international reputation is eroding, along with the future for the best academics, engineers, and high tech industries. Public pride and youthful ambition are also at stake. High-tech space science instrumentation also creates large Return-On-Investment opportunities, which benefit all Canadians.
  • Based on current plans and opportunities, the CSA needs a committed budget for all space science of ~$100m per year over a span of at least a decade, and the mandate to manage that in full consultation with its stakeholders. The current practice of piecemeal and politically selected missions is unworthy.
  • In addition to supporting astronaut, military, and resource-based needs in space, the government needs to restore the severely depleted space science aspect of the CSA’s charter. We continue to bring this message through the Coalition for Canadian Astronomy, and in conjunction with the Space Advisory Board, and the CSA science advisor.
  • We recognise that public outreach on Canadian space science needs much improvement, to reflect and inform on all the above. The entire community intends to work to this end.

 

* “The objects of the Agency are to promote the peaceful use and development of space, to advance the knowledge of space through science and to ensure that space science and technology provide social and economic benefits for Canadians.”