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Calgary-based EVANS ‘proud’ to be part of NASA’s Perseverance rover project – Global News

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Calgarians working at a tech company are proud to see their work in action as NASA’s Perseverance rover gathers samples from a planet millions of kilometres away.

EVANS’ chief technology officer Matko Papic said the company, which was founded in Calgary in 1980, has been a global player in aviation, public safety and space operations and has focused on designing and equipping control rooms for decades.

He said the company gets involved with the early planning and detailed designs of the space and then designs the consoles specific to customer requirements, they do all the manufacturing and support their customers globally.

Their latest collaboration was on Perseverance, NASA’s rover that landed on Mars earlier this month.

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Take a look around Mars with Perseverance rover’s HD photo panorama

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The rover specializes in travelling the planet Mars to look for signs of ancient life and pick up a wide range of core rock and soil samples and store them safely, so they can be returned to earth and studied.

EVANS supplied control room consoles to the company in Texas, and Papic said the employees we thrilled with being a part of the project.

“You know, we as a … Calgary-based company are very fortunate and very proud to … be able to be a part of this program.” Papic said

“It’s both a sense of pride and a little bit of a sense of relief. But I think it’s mainly … pride that’s just, you know, being involved even in such a small piece.”

Papic told Global News that there are lots of future opportunities and EVANS is excited to continue to be a part of projects like this.


Click to play video 'NASA releases 1st video of Perseverance rover landing on Mars'



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NASA releases 1st video of Perseverance rover landing on Mars


NASA releases 1st video of Perseverance rover landing on Mars

He said that navigating a mission from northeast Calgary when all the equipment is in Houston is not an easy task, but it is very doable.

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“I think a big part of that is we’ve been able to develop a very unique and value-added product offering, and I think the fact that we support our customers and every aspect of their operational needs and the fact that we can support our customers globally, Papic said.

“With these specific solutions its really made a difference and its helped evolve EVANS into a global player.”

EVANS involvement in Perseverance was primarily in the control room and all elements were designed and manufactured in Calgary.

“That’s usually where Evans does most of our work is within the control room environment, and it varies by the type of mission. But they’re all control rooms that require continuous monitoring.” Papic said

Papic mentioned that due to high-level requirements, these projects can take quite some time to complete.

“We want to make sure that we’re focusing on capturing all the requirements and making sure that the design is absolutely perfect because the last thing we want is, you know, something that Evans provided to be a hindrance in the overall mission and so we’re very, very diligent to making sure that everything is functioning perfectly before it actually gets commissioned and goes live.” Papic said

The company’s relationship with NASA began decades ago as they began supporting them on some of the space shuttle missions both from a mission and launch control standpoint. EVANS has been involved with some other well-known projects.

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“We’ve done projects for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory; we’ve done projects for the Hubble Space Telescope, so different programs within NASA,” Papic said.

“And we’ve been very fortunate as an organization that NASA continued to see us as a partner in helping them develop some of these solutions.”


Click to play video 'Saskatchewan scientist helps lead team in Mars mission'



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Saskatchewan scientist helps lead team in Mars mission


Saskatchewan scientist helps lead team in Mars mission

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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To help chart the cosmos, Western space researchers turn to crowd sourcing – CBC.ca

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Western University researchers have tapped the help of hundreds of amateur and professional astronomers in an effort to make sure no meteor is unable to slip by the Earth undetected.

To do that, they’re relying on the observations taken from 450 cameras in 30 different countries manned by “enthusiastic amateur astronomers” made up of professional and citizen scientists.

That data is then sent to Western University as part of what’s called the Global Meteor Network (GMN), headed by Denis Vida.

“So we have a lot of enthusiastic amateur astronomers, citizen scientists and also professionals that build, operate and maintain these cameras,” Vida told CBC’s Chris dela Torre during Afternoon Drive. “And every night they inspect the data set and send their data to a central server here at the University of Western Ontario.”

It’s not just about observing meteors – it’s about tracking what’s left of the ones that make it to the earth’s surface too.

“So we also observe a meteorite dropping fireballs,” said Vida. “They’re quite rare over an area of let’s say the country the size of France or Spain. Could only expect two to three of those fireballs a year that drop more than, let’s say, 300 grams of meteorites on the ground.”

“So because these events are very rare, it is important to observe 24/7.”

Vida explained that when one of their cameras spot one of them, they collect the data and find its location so they can retrieve what’s left for analysis – and analysis needs to happen quickly.  

“There are certain things in them, like some radionuclide to decay very quickly, but those can tell us how old the meteorite is, how long it was after it was ejected from the parent asteroid that it fell on the ground,” he said.

Vida explained that what ends up on the ground are just “several kilograms of materials” by the time they reach the earth’s surface. They aren’t hot either. They cool down on their descent.

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Global push to monitor meteor showers led by Western University – CTV News London

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MIDDLESEX CENTRE, ONT. —
London, Ont.’s Western University is leading a worldwide effort to monitor meteor showers and meteorite falls.

The Global Meteor Network (GMN) includes more than 450 cameras in 23 countries – hosted by amateur and professional astronomers.

The goal of the project, led by Denis Vida, a postdoctoral associate at Western, is to ensure unique or rare space events are not missed.

Vida explained in a statement, “Other astronomers can pool their resources to build a big telescope on top of a mountain where the skies are dark and clear year-round, but meteor astronomers need spatial coverage most of all.”

Meteors can occur anywhere in the world, happen close to earth and often burn up at around 100 km above the surface — so they can only be well observed from within about 300 km and need to be seen by cameras in at least two places to get the exact location.

That’s where the Global Meteor Network comes in.

In March, the network helped locate a rare portion of a meteorite that landed in Winchcombe, England on Feb. 28 and figure out where in space it originated.

“Its role in the recovery and analysis of the Winchcombe meteorite fall is proof positive that GMN works,” said Vida.

The first system to observe meteorites was installed at Western in 2017, and it continues to grow as the cost of meteor cameras has declined.

GMN also publishes the orbits of all observed meteors around the world within 24 hours of observation. The location of cameras and meteor data can be seen here.

The network also hopes to better understand flight patterns and flux capacities of meteorites, and even predict future events.

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MDA gets $35.3 million contract from Canadian Space Agency for Canadarm 3 components – Times Colonist

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BRAMPTON, Ont. — The Canadian Space Agency has awarded a contract worth $35.3 million to MDA Ltd. to design a key component of Canadarm 3.

The funds will be used to design Gateway External Robotics Interfaces or grapple fixtures for Canadarm 3, which is Canada’s contribution to the United States-led Lunar Gateway, a small space station that will orbit the moon.

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The contract is a follow-on to the first phase of interface work awarded in August 2019. A construction phase will likely be awarded in about a year.

The first elements of Gateway will launch in 2024, with Canadarm 3 scheduled to launch two years later.

The contract is the third awarded to MDA for the multi-phase Canadarm 3 program valued at more than $1 billion.

Canadarm flew on 90 space shuttle missions after debuting in 1981. Canadarm 2 has been operating on the International Space Station for more than 20 years.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 26, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:MDA)

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