Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration

Professional Development

CSA Astronaut David Saint-Jacques learning how to use the microprobe at the Earth and Planetary Materials Analysis Labratory

CSA Astronaut David Saint-Jacques using the microprobe at the Earth and Planetary Materials Analysis Labratory

The CPSX Professional Development Series is made available to enhance the scope of knowledge and skills of space industry professionals as well as agency and government representatives. Short courses, covering technical content are interactive and, where possible, offer experiential learning opportunities for our participants.

Our workshops are designed for classroom presentation and completion over a two-day period. Their duration and delivery format may be tailored to respond to organisational needs. 

CPSX Professional Development courses are delivered by Western University faculty and Post-Doctoral Fellows as well as world-class experts from partner organisations across the globe.

Introduction to Planetary Science and Exploration

The focus of the course will be on the fundamental processes that have shaped the terrestrial planets and their moons, and asteroids. Particular emphasis will be placed on investigations of the Moon, Mars, and asteroids, which represent the highest priority targets for the Canadian and international communities. Recent and ongoing planetary missions will be highlighted. It is intended to provide the non-specialist with a working knowledge of the multidisciplinary fields within planetary science. This course will focus on the following topics: origin of the solar system and planet formation; planetary interiors; planetary surfaces; planetary atmospheres; astrobiology and the search for life. Specific topics that will be addressed in each module, where applicable, include: the use of remote sensing datasets from planetary missions and how to access them; terrestrial analogues of space environments; astromaterials and analytical techniques for sample analysis.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the two-day courses, attendees will:  

  1. Have an understanding of the major processes responsible for shaping the surfaces of the terrestrial planets and their moons, the rocky and icy moons of the outer Solar System, and asteroids.
  2. Be able to utilize observations of these surface processes to construct hypotheses about the geological history of particular planetary bodies.
  3. Understand the use of terrestrial analogues for studying planetary surface processes.

Instructor: Dr. Gordon Osinski, Association Professor Western University     Sept/Oct/Nov

Planetary Surface Processes

This course focuses on the fundamental geological processes that have shaped the surfaces of terrestrial planets and their moons, the rocky and icy moons of the outer Solar System, and asteroids. Emphasis will be placed on investigations of the Moon, Mars, and asteroids, which represent the highest priority targets for the Canadian and international communities. A major focus will be on impact cratering and volcanism, which are the two main surface processes common to the Moon, Mars, and asteroids. The action of glaciers, ground ice, rivers, wind, and catastrophic floods – all proposed to have once occurred on Mars – will be detailed, with data from recent and ongoing planetary missions being highlighted. Terrestrial analogues, which are important to inform us of these processes, will also be discussed.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the two-day courses, attendees will:  

  1. Be able to define terms and concepts that pertain to solar system's dynamic processes.
  2. Have an understanding of the cause(s) of the variety of objects in our solar system.
  3. Understand the drivers for the exploration of the Moon, Mars, and asteroids.

Instructor: Dr. Gordon Osinski, Association Professor Western University     

Short Course in Remote Sensing and Image Analysis for Earth and Planetary Science

Almost all aspects of planetary science investigations are enabled through remote sensing due to the cost and danger of visiting planetary surfaces, and even the remotest places on Earth. Remote sensing also enables informs and provides operational readiness with respect to in situ investigations at these remote locations through manned or robotic missions. As such, basic knowledge of remote sensing data (i.e., its use and limitations) is not only essential to those who are keen on the science they enable, but also to those who provide the policy, planning, infrastructure and engineering expertise that is required for exploration of Earth and the planetary bodies beyond.

This module provides an overview of remote sensing data with emphasis on 1) the fundamental physics and interaction of electromagnetic radiation with planetary surfaces and materials (rocks and soils); 2) examples of the various instruments and measurements acquired from a variety of remote sensing platforms; and 3) some basics with respect to access, visualizing and processing remote sensing data.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this 6-day course, attendees will:  

  1. Gain a deeper understanding of the types of remote sensing data sets and their general uses and limitations.
  2. Where to access some of planetary remote sensing data (e.g., how to find and browse for particular data sets).
  3. Become more familiar with the basic manipulation and visualization of these data sets.

Full Course Description, click here.

Instructors: Dr. Livio Tornabene, Adjunct Professor and Research Scientist and
Dr. Catherine Neish, Assistant Professor, Western University

Dates: July 4th - July 9th, 2016
Cost: $2,450
Register: click here

Instrumentation for Planetary Exploration

This course will focus on instrumentation that is currently part of, or has the potential to be part of, the scientific payload of planetary rover missions (e.g. MSL, ExoMars 2018, Mars 2020). Specifically we will cover the specifications, operations, example data sets and limitations of instruments that can be used for: i) Surface (e.g., MAHLI – Mars Hand Lens Imager, miniTES – Thermal Emission Spectrometer, MI – Microscopic Imager), ii) subsurface imaging (e.g., GPR – Ground Penetrating Radar), iii) geochemistry (e.g., APXS – Alpha-particle X-Ray Spectrometer), iv) mineralogy (e.g., CheMin – X-Ray diffraction and Fluorescence, Mössbauer spectrometer), v) detection of organics (e.g., SAM – Sample Analysis at Mars, Raman spectroscopy), and vi) atmospherics (e.g. REMS – Rover Environmental Monitoring Station, RAD – Radiation Assessment Detector, DAN – Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons). Finally the course will touch on the case for sample return and the considerations that must be made for sample collection, processing and transport as well as planetary protection and contamination.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the two-day courses, attendees will:  

  1. Gain a clear understanding of the various instruments used in planetary exploration for physiochemical analyses.
  2. Understand the benefits and limitations of these technologies and how complementary data sets can be used to develop a complete story of the surroundings.
  3. Gain an appreciation for the time-scale of mission design, implementation, data collection and analyses.

Instructor: Dr. Gordon Osinski, Associate Professor Western University, Dr. Alexandra Pontefract, Post-Doctoral Fellow (UWO) & Dr. Haley Sapers, Post-Doctoral Fellow, McGill University, Dr. Livio Tornabene, Adjunct Professor and Research Scientist, Western University.

Astrobiology

The theories pertaining to the origins of life will be discussed, starting with the seminal works of Oparin, Haldane and the Miller-Urey experiments and progressing into work on prebiotic membranes and the early Earth environment. From here we will step through the geologic time record, covering the major evolutionary milestones from the great oxidation events to the first vertebrates. Extremophilic organisms and analogue environments will be highlighted along with an understanding of the physiological adaptations necessary for survival in varying extreme environments. Finally the course will explore biosignature formation and a critical analysis of life-detection technology and possible habitats for life elsewhere in our solar system. The requirements for biosignature preservation and the concept of biogenicity will be discussed including the limitations of determining biogenicity with respect to relevant examples from the literature.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the two-day courses, attendees will:  

  1. Gain an understanding of the process of evolution and the diversity of life on Earth.
  2. Understand the benefit of analogue studies and the role that extremophilic organisms play in defining the limits of life.
  3. Gain a familiarity with different life-detection techniques, as well as the associated benefits and pitfalls of each of these technologies.
  4. Be able to more accurately assess extraterrestrial environments for habitability potential.

Instructor: Dr. Alexandra Pontefract, Post-Doctoral Fellow (UWO) & Dr. Haley Sapers, Post-Doctoral Fellow, McGill University.

The Origins, Physical Properties and Impact Hazards of Asteroids

The origin and properties of asteroids are developed and discussed. The formation of asteroids as part of the early solar system will be explored based on meteoritical constraints and astronomical data. The dynamical delivery processes which create near-Earth asteroids from the main-belt will be described. The physical structure and chemical diversity of asteroids as inferred from astronomical observations, meteorite studies and in-situ measurements will be presented and critically examined. The current impact hazard from near-Earth asteroids will be highlighted together with proposed methods of mitigation.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the two-day courses, attendees will:  

  1. Gain a deeper understanding of the origin of asteroids within the context of solar nebular theory.
  2. Understand the different physical and chemical properties of asteroids as inferred from remote measurements and the potential uncertainties inherent to these data.
  3. Become familiar with the currently understood impact threat from near-Earth asteroids and various proposed modes of protection from the hazard.

Instructor: Dr. Peter Brown, Professor (UWO) & Dr. Duncan Steel, Principal Research Scientist, QinetiQ Proprietary Limited (Australia).

Space Debris

The impact hazard from natural and man-made debris for spacecraft in Earth-orbit will be described. The damage modalities to spacecraft (penetration, plasma discharge) will be described and developed together with practical examples of each. The observational basis for our understanding of the space debris environment will be presented and discussed. Existing models used to characterize the debris environment, including the NASA models ORDEM, BUMPER, LEGEND and MEM will be reviewed and discussed. Remediation procedures which may reduce the future hazard from orbital debris will be presented together with current estimates of the on-orbit hazard from the debris environment as well as from re-entries.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the two-day courses, attendees will:  

  1. Understand the technical basis for our estimates of the debris environment including areas of uncertainty.
  2. Be exposed to several case studies of on-orbit debris impacts and spacecraft response to these impacts.
  3. Gain a working familiarity with current models of the debris environments.

Instructor: Dr. Peter Brown, Professor (UWO), Dr. Dale Armstrong, Sessional Lecturer in Geopolitics and Geography and freelance writer.

Space Weather

The course begins by presenting the setting in which space weather takes place. Earth’s place in the Solar System and relation to the Sun and its various forms of radiation are examined. The basic structure of the Sun leads us from the inner regions in which energy is generated to the active surface layer which is blown off as the solar wind. Magnetic fields play a dominant role in space physics, so that the relevant plasma physics must consider them, and the basic if poorly understood phenomenon of magnetic reconnection. Electric currents both generate Earth’s magnetic field, which structures space near it, and play a role in the auroras, including its space weather effects. Storage and release of energy is in two main forms: storms and substorms, which in turn involve the radiation belts and the auroral zone. The mechanisms for damage in space weather events are considered, mainly due to particles and to changing magnetic fields. Warning, prediction, and monitoring networks are examined. Protection and mitigation appropriate to ground-based technological systems and to space flight are detailed. Finally, sources of information for further study and for immediate use in being aware of space weather activity are presented.

Learning Outcomes

Participants will develop a broad understanding of space weather issues:  

  1. A basic understanding of physical and biological processes involved.
  2. Basic knowledge of the solar system and near-Earth space.
  3. Understand space weather hazards in various contexts.
  4. Know that there are information sources about space weather (forecasts, data).
  5. Describe some mitigation strategies.

For more information, please contact:
Email:   cpsx@uwo.ca
Phone: (519) 661-2111 ext. 88508