The Canadian Space Agency will collaborate with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and The European Space Agency on a new science project known under the name of Solar-wind-Magnetosphere-Ionosphere Link Explorer (or SMILE).
The unified project will allow the three agencies to observe and learn more about the interactions between Earth’s magnetosphere and solar winds. The announcement marks a new stage for the initiative, as four years were needed for initial preparations, including a small-scale study which took place in 2015.
The addition of the Canadian Space Agency to the mission may come as a surprise for some. At first, NASA was the third partner besides the ESA and CSA. However, the American government issued a law which forbids bilateral cooperation between the USA and China, forcing the American space agency to relinquish its spot. In this context, Canada decided to offer its support and became a contributor to the project.
Canadian Space Agency Involved In New Scientific Project To Study Solar Winds
The SMILE initiative will send a specialized satellite into space. The spacecraft will observe and report space weather events and their impact on our planet while following an orbit at 125,000 kilometers above Earth.
The CSA has stated that space weather can alter the performance of vital technologies and services which are present in space and on Earth, a feat which can lead to significant economic impacts. It is already well-known that intense space weather effects can alter or disrupt the functionality of satellite GPS systems, radio communications, power grids, and satellites. In some cases, it can mingle even with trans-polar air travel.
By exploring space weather manifestations, the researchers will be able to understand better and even limit some of the negative consequences. Canada will play an essential role since it is the country with the largest surface under the aurora borealis, which is known to be one of the most visible space weather events. A selection of tools mounted on the satellite will allow it to take valuable measurements which can be sent to Earth. Further information will be shared in the future.