Exploring the Aurora with Canadian Space Technology

Tue, Mar 8, 2016

Richmond, B.C. – Canada has been a pioneer in space exploration since it became the third nation to build an earth-orbiting satellite, and the first to build one dedicated exclusively to ionospheric research over 50 years ago.

A PhD in space plasma physics isn’t needed to understand what Earth’s ionosphere brings us, although an upcoming guest lecturer at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s (KPU) Richmond campus has one. All that’s needed is an appreciation for one of the world’s most spectacular natural phenomena, the awe-inspiring northern lights.

On March 17, Dr. David Knudsen will speak space in a unique opportunity to learn more about a layer of Earth’s atmosphere that not only brings breathtaking beauty, but the understanding of which has massive implications for the technological systems behind navigation, power transmission and radio communication.

Dr. Knudsen has held positions at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Canada's Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics, and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. He currently serves as the lead scientist for the Canadian Electric Field Instruments on the European Space Agency's Swarm satellites, and is the principal investigator of the e-POP Suprathermal Electron Imager experiment.

As a participating state in the Earth Observation Envelope Programme, Canada has been involved with Swarm satellites, which are probing the magnetic field and plasma surrounding Earth. A goal of one of the most recently launched satellites, the e-POP satellite, is to study the daily loss to space of tens of tons of ionospheric material – including oxygen and other elements – that should be gravitationally bound to Earth.

Dr. Knudsen, who is a leading Canadian space researcher and professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Calgary, will discuss recent Canadian space missions, their scientific findings and how they have improved our understanding of Earth’s magnetic field and ionosphere.

Exploring the Aurora with Canadian Space Technology, hosted by KPU’s Department of Physics in conjunction with the Canadian Association of Physicists 2016 Lecture Tour, will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 17 at the Melville Centre for Dialogue (8771 Lansdowne Rd. Richmond).

For more information and to RSVP to the free event, please visit kpu.ca/caplecture.

Questions? Email Triona King at triona.king@kpu.ca or call 604.599.2048.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University has served the Metro Vancouver region since 1981, and has opened doors to success for more than 200,000 learners. Four campuses—Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley—offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs in business, liberal arts, design, health, science and horticulture, trades and technology, and academic and career advancement. Over 19,000 students annually have a choice from over 120 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates, citations and apprenticeships. Learn more at kpu.ca.    

photo of Dr. David Knudsen is available on Flickr.

Media contact:
Hayley Woodin
Media Specialist
t: 604.599.2883
c: 604.364.1288

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