Skip to main content

Radiation-detecting satellite by team of Canadian students successfully launched into space


A miniature satellite designed and built by Canadian university students and researchers has successfully launched into space on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Standing only 20 centimetres tall, CubeSat is the device at the heart of the NEUtron DOSimetry and Exploration (NEUDOSE) mission, a project that aims to help scientists better understand the effects of long-term space radiation exposure on humans.

"Space radiation poses a huge risk to astronauts' health," NEUDOSE team member and McMaster University student Taren Ginter told CTV's Your Morning on Wednesday, "and as we're moving forward to further deep-space missions, like maybe going to Mars, we need to understand that risk."

The NEUDOSE satellite launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday as part of NASA’s 27th commercial resupply mission, and it's expected to dock at the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday morning.

For the NEUDOSE team members who were on hand in Florida to watch their satellite lift off, the moment was eight years in the making. Ginter was among the group at Cape Canaveral and described the moment as incredible.

"The launch could not have gone more smoothly," she said. "We were all down at the beach ready to see it, and luckily the weather was perfect, so right around 8:30 last night, we got to see the Falcon 9 blast off with our satellite on board."

Ginter and her team designed and built NEUDOSE using a grant from the Canadian Space Agency's Canadian CubeSat Project. After it spends a month or two at the ISS, the satellite will be deployed into low-Earth orbit, where it will collect radiation data for two years. During that period, it will transmit data down to a ground command centre on campus at McMaster where it can be interpreted by the research team.

Part of what makes NEUDOSE unique is the way it's designed to measure specific particles and the way they affect human soft tissue.

"Our radiation measurement instrument actually can detect both charged and neutral particles and discriminate between the dose," Ginter said, explaining that this gives researchers a more detailed sense of the radiation dose astronauts receive in low-Earth orbit.

The satellite also contains a device called a charged and neutral particle tissue equivalent proportional counter, which mimics the composition of human soft tissue.

"It's filled with a mixture of gases that actually give us a really detailed look at how that radiation is going to impact humans," Ginter said.

Ginter and her team hope the data they collect will be of use to major space agencies looking minimize radiation exposure for astronauts.

"We're also hoping that one day, little radiation detectors like ours will become a bit more of a standard," she said. "Hopefully, NEUDOSE is the first of many so that we can move forward making space travel safer." Top Stories

'Rust' armourer gets 18 months in prison for fatal shooting by Alec Baldwin on set

A movie weapons supervisor was sentenced to 18 months in prison in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer by Alec Baldwin on the set of the Western film "Rust," during a hearing Monday in which tearful family members and friends gave testimonials that included calls for justice and a punishment that would instill greater accountability for safety on film sets.

Donald Trump hush money trial, explained

All of Donald Trump's trials and the characters involved make for a complicated legal mess, particularly when the four criminal cases are added to Trump's civil liability for defamation and sexual misconduct and for business fraud. Here's what to know to get up to speed on this first criminal trial, starting April 15, 2024.

Here's what to expect in the 2024 federal budget

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will be presenting the 2024 federal budget on Tuesday, revealing how the federal Liberal government intends to balance the nearly $40 billion in pre-announced new spending with her vow to remain fiscally prudent.

Prince Harry in legal setback about security protection in U.K.

Prince Harry's fight for police protection in the U.K. received another setback on Monday, when a judge rejected his request to appeal an earlier ruling upholding a government panel's decision to limit his access to publicly funded security after giving up his status as a working member of the royal family.

Local Spotlight

'It was surreal': Ontario mother gives birth to son on day of solar eclipse

For many, Monday's total solar eclipse will become a distant memory or collection of photos to scroll through in the years to come. But for Alannah Duarte and her family, they'll be reminded of the rare celestial event every year they celebrate their youngest son's birthday, as he was born on the day of the momentous occasion.