Canadian Astronomy, Racism, and the Environment – Part 2

By / par Martine and Pamela Freeman, with input from the CASCA Sustainability Committee (The CASCA Sustainability Committee, The CASCA Equity & Inclusivity Committee)
(Cassiopeia – Spring / printemps 2021)

The CASCA Sustainability Committee is a group of astronomers concerned about our field’s contributions to environmental damage. This article is the second of a 2-part series in Cassiopeia which aims to bring more awareness within the astronomical community to the connections between race and the environment. It is also part of our committee’s effort to center perspectives often neglected in predominantly-white environmental groups.

Part 2: Astronomy Activities at Home and Abroad

In our previous article (1), we summarized the growing body of evidence demonstrating that the fallout from climate change will disproportionately impact people of color and Indigenous populations both globally and within Canada. Astronomers have been coming to grips with the excessive carbon emissions associated with professional astronomy (2,3), as well as with the manifestations of systemic racism in our field (4,5). These inequities must be recognized and sustainable practices must be proposed in ways that center racial (and other forms of) equity. In this article, we briefly review how the history of Western astronomy led to systemic racism and Eurocentrist practices within the field today. We next discuss how our field’s environmental impacts play into broader global patterns, and follow with a discussion of the combined environmental and cultural impact at observatories located on Indigenous territory. We propose rough guidelines to move us toward a more equitable and sustainable future.

Much of modern astronomy in Canada was made possible by settler colonialism (the formation of a governance system through the invasion of outsiders with the aim of assimilating or erasing Indigenous peoples, 6). Some of the oldest examples include renowned observations during European expeditions to the Caribbean (7) as well as the important role astronomy played in building Canada through government-sponsored mandates for timekeeping and mapmaking (8,9). As with most institutions in Canada today, a great deal of our astronomy resources — such as observatories (10,11), university buildings (12,13), and funds (14,15) — were facilitated by colonization. The benefits from these resources have gone primarily to Europeans and Euro-descendants. In the university setting today, astronomers’ participation in the settler colonialist framework is reflected by the severe underrepresentation of Black and Indigenous faculty as well as the exclusion and devaluation of Indigenous and non-Western knowledge within academic circles (16). Systemic racism in professional astronomy is, in part, a legacy of our profession’s historic and ongoing ties with colonialism.

As in the past, astronomy today benefits from environmental damage which is particularly damaging to Indigenous, Black, and other people of color. Although our field is not on the same level as the most egregious perpetrators of environmental racism (e.g. the oil industry and chemical plants), our impacts are non-negligible and we have a responsibility to do better. Our per-capita emissions from work alone, mostly from air travel, are typically well-beyond the average working person’s total emissions (2,3). As a predominantly white institution, therefore, Canadian astronomy is part of a North American pattern in which white people produce a much higher percentage of pollution than people of color, while a higher percentage of non-white people suffer the related health effects (17). Our emissions also contribute to a global pattern where the Global South bears the brunt of a climate crisis mostly perpetrated by the Global North (see part 1 and links therein). In addition, many of our observatories are situated on unceded or contested Indigenous lands both within Canada and internationally, where they impact the local environment and contribute to the global climate crisis. In Canada, the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO), including the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME), is situated on the unceded lands of the Syilx/Okanagan (18) as well as the Nlaka’pamux people (19). In addition, the Algonquin Radio Observatory (ARO) is on the unceded land of the Omàwinini (Algonquin) people, which is part of the largest land claim being negotiated in Ontario today (20,21).

Of all the Canada-affiliated observatories, those on Maunakea on Hawai’i Island are the most well-publicized example where environmental and cultural concerns intersect. Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) views on the present and future of Maunakea Observatories (e.g. TMT) are diverse, ranging from strong support to strong opposition (22) with a variety of reasoning (see 23 for a Native Hawaiian-led overview of the issues). However, an oft-cited concern among the kia’i (protectors) is the environmental degradation of the mountain, considered sacred to many people (23, 24, 25). Many Hawaiians cite the concept of aloha ‘āina when discussing Maunakea, which translates to ‘love of the land’ and describes a deep relationship to nature (26, 27). Some TMT opponents are concerned about impacts to the water, destruction of rare species on the mountain, and hazardous spills (26, 28). Although mountain management plans are attempting to mitigate such impacts (29), these concerns stem from the previous damage that astronomy’s presence has had on the mountain (23,28). Canadian astronomy also benefits from other observatories on Indigenous territory both at home and abroad. Generally, increased activity in these lands (observers’ flights, frequent truck transport, occasional waste spills, etc.) and telescopes’ electricity usage add up to a high environmental footprint (30,31,32). Environmental impacts are coupled with impacts on culture, health, and well-being for Indigenous communities (32, 33, 34).

We encourage readers to think about steps that will move our field towards an equitable and sustainable future. The Sustainability Committee is working in partnership with the Equity and Inclusivity Committee to address some of the concerns put forth in this article. While we (the authors) lack the expertise to make direct recommendations for telescopes, we suggest that existing observatories regularly assess their environmental impacts in partnership with local Indigenous representatives and in doing so, center Indigenous methods. Indigenous-led recommendations for telescope consultation (e.g. 23, 35) should be followed in the consideration of new facilities and the re-consideration of existing facilities; environmental improvements cannot be a band-aid for unethically established observatories. Progress is possible: ALMA, for example, has programs for scientists to learn from, teach, and help preserve the culture of the local Likan Antai community (10). Meanwhile, recent developments at various ESO observatories (30, 36) and Gemini (37) have reduced environmental impacts.

Beyond telescopes, we encourage readers to consider the intersection of sustainability and equity in topics such as conferences, observing, computing resources, university spaces, and the perceived correlation of success with travel (see 38 for further discussion). As a field, steps that we make to reduce our carbon footprint should also prioritize racial (and other forms of) equity. Sustainability and equity must go hand-in-hand: sustainability can help address the increasing power and wealth gaps in the world, while equitable approaches are necessary for successful sustainability efforts.

References

1. https://casca.ca/?p=14580
2. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-020-1202-4
3. https://arxiv.org/pdf/1912.05834.pdf
4. https://astrobites.org/2020/06/12/blackinastro-black-representation-in-astro-physics-and-the-impact-of-discrimination/
5. https://www.particlesforjustice.org/
6. https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780190221911/obo-9780190221911-0029.xml
7. https://arxiv.org/pdf/2001.00674.pdf
8. http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu//full/1938JRASC..32..381H/0000384.000.html
9. https://astro-canada.ca/index-eng
10. https://astrobites.org/2019/09/10/astronomical-observatories-and-indigenous-communities-in-chile/
11. https://astrobites.org/2019/08/02/maunakea-western-astronomy-and-hawaii/
12. https://uwaterloo.ca/arts/about-territorial-acknowledgement#Haldimand
13. https://www.mcgilldaily.com/2018/09/mcgill-a-colonial-institution/
14. https://www.dunlap.utoronto.ca/about/history/
15. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollinger_Mines
16. https://arxiv.org/pdf/1910.02976.pdf
17. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190311152735.htm
18. https://www.syilx.org/about-us/
19. https://native-land.ca/
20. https://www.ontario.ca/page/algonquin-land-claim
21. https://www.tanakiwin.com/our-treaty-negotiations/overview-of-treaty-negotiations/
22. http://envisionmaunakea.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Electronic-2018-03-23-March-Date-Report-of-the-Hui-Hoolohe.pdf
23. https://arxiv.org/pdf/2001.00970.pdf
24. https://guides.westoahu.hawaii.edu/c.php?g=977248&p=7065789
25. https://sacredmaunakea.wordpress.com/2015/04/25/speech-lanakila-mangauil-on-the-tmt-from-the-hawaii-independent-4252015/
26. https://www.civilbeat.org/connections/solution-to-tmt-conflict-aloha-aina/
27. https://www.vox.com/identities/2019/7/24/20706930/mauna-kea-hawaii
28. https://www.civilbeat.org/2015/04/does-the-thirty-meter-telescope-pose-environmental-risks/#:~:text=Another%20concern%20is%20the%20telescope’s,an%20endangered%20species%20until%202011.
29. http://www.malamamaunakea.org/uploads/management/plans/CMP_2009.PDF
30. https://www.eso.org/public/blog/environmental-footprint/
31. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-020-1190-4
32. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.11522208.v1
33. http://www.afn.ca/honoring-earth/
34. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1757975919831262
35. https://arxiv.org/abs/1910.03665
36. https://www.eso.org/public/about-eso/green/
37. https://www.gemini.edu/node/12420
38. https://arxiv.org/abs/1910.01272

About the authors: Martine and Pamela are both white settlers on Turtle Island (North America). Martine is a graduate student at the University of Toronto, on the traditional lands of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Pamela is a graduate student at the University of Calgary located on the traditional lands of the Blackfoot Confederacy, the Stoney Nakoda, and the Tsuut’ina First Nation, and the homeland of the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3. We acknowledge our settler and white privileges and will continue learning and working towards greater equity in astronomy.

Update on CASTOR

By / par Patrick Côté, John Hutchings (NRC Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Centre)
(Cassiopeia – Spring / printemps 2021)

CASTOR continues to move forward to fulfil its ranking as the top LRP2020 priority for space astronomy. The following steps have been taken in the past quarter.

  1. The substantial technical (STDP) contract is in final stages of being signed, and is expected to kick off officially by early April. The work will advance vital mission technology and retire risks in a) advancing the opto-mechanical design for the 1m off-axis wide-field telescope; b) designing and testing the large focal plane array concept with flight-like detectors; c) lab-testing the proposed fast-steering mirror for fine guiding; d) incorporating and adding detectors to the multi-slit spectrograph in design in India; and e) developing the concept for bright-star precision photometry of exoplanet transits. The work will be in close partnership with the Indian and JPL teams.
  2. Formal discussions are now under way between CSA and ISRO on a joint mission. The agreed concept is that of CASTOR, and an initial proposed split of the hardware and operation responsibilities has been agreed, subject to more detailed discussions. Along with the anticipated detector involvement by JPL, this will form the basis of a Canada-led proposal for funding from the government. ISRO will work in close step in a proposed schedule that will see CASTOR launched in late 2027.
  3. Plans are evolving for involving the Universities via ACURA, consultation with the government via the Coalition, and outreach activities within the CASTOR science team. CASTOR will have a town-hall event (on Thursday May 13) at the upcoming virtual CASCA Annual Meeting. Talks have been given by CASTOR team members at meetings in UK and India.
  4. CSA is on track to approve and begin a phase 0 study in parallel with the technical contract work, to refine costs and detail moving into a funded phase A-E sequence to take CASTOR to launch and operation.

This year will be an important one in defining the partnership and pitching the mission to government. With its wide range of science capability, it will be a major facility for the astronomy community, and those interested in joining in are encouraged. In particular, there exist numerous opportunities for student participation; for more information, students are encouraged to attend the CASCA town hall session and/or the CaTS (Canadian Telescope Seminar) talk in June, which will be dedicated to CASTOR.

More information on the mission may be found here.

CATAC Update on the Thirty Meter Telescope

By / par Michael Balogh (CATAC Chair)
(Cassiopeia – Spring / printemps 2021)

In our last article we provided some detail and references on the state of the TMT project, the informal NSF outreach process, US ELTP activity, and other relevant processes and discussions happening on Hawaii around land use and the issue of consent. These activities continue. As detailed in that report, the next major milestone will be the release of the US Astro2020 recommendations, in mid-2021. A top ranking in this report is essential for NSF engagement (expected to be at the level of at least 25%) and the viability of the project. Should the NSF accept the ELTP proposal, NSF will conduct an in-depth Preliminary Design Review, likely in late 2021. Acceptance will also trigger a federal Environmental Impact Statement that will take about three years to complete. In the meantime we have only a few updates:

  • Following the retirement of Gary Sanders, Fengchuan Liu has been appointed Acting Project Manager. Fengchuan has been the Deputy Project Manager at TMT since 2015; prior to that he was a Project Manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL). He brings a lot of experience and talent to this role and is already having a positive impact.
  • At the end of 2020, the independent evaluation of the Maunakea Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) was released. You can access the full report here. The report was prepared for the Department of Land and Natural Resources by Ku`iwalu and includes both a self-assessment by the Office of Maunakea Management (OMKM) and a public assessment based on input to the review process. This evaluation found that the OMKM has made significant progress in several areas, and in particular is, in many regards, “effectively managing the activities and uses on Mauna Kea to better protect the natural and cultural resources''. However, they also found that OMKM has not effectively implemented the CMP in three major areas: timely adoption of administrative rules; consultation with members of the Native Hawaiian community on matters related to cultural and resources issues; and engagement with the community on education and outreach efforts. On February 4, House Speaker Scott Saiki announced that he would like to see a new management structure of Mauna Kea to replace UH. UH issued a strong response, defending their commitment to improving stewardship of Maunakea. On March 4, the Hawaii State House of Representatives passed two resolutions to form a working group which will develop recommendations for the future governance of Maunakea. We expect more key developments regarding management of these lands as the year progresses.
  • The Caltech Submillimeter Observatory recently became the first telescope on Mauna Kea to submit its site decommissioning plan for approval. The draft was approved by OMKM, and the aim is for deconstruction and site restoration work to begin in summer 2022.

Finally, we remind you that the next TMT Science forum will take place June 26-29, 2022 at UBC in Vancouver.

CATAC membership:

Michael Balogh (University of Waterloo), Chair, mbalogh@uwaterloo.ca
Bob Abraham (University of Toronto; TIO SAC)
Stefi Baum (University of Manitoba)
Laura Ferrarese (NRC)
David Lafrenière (Université de Montréal)
Harvey Richer (UBC)
Kristine Spekkens (Royal Military College of Canada)
Luc Simard (Director General of NRC-HAA, non-voting, ex-officio)
Don Brooks (Executive Director of ACURA, non-voting, ex-officio)
Sara Ellison (CASCA President, non-voting, ex-officio)
Kim Venn (TIO Governing Board, non-voting, ex-officio)
Stan Metchev (TIO SAC, non-voting, ex-officio)
Tim Davidge (TIO SAC Canadian co-chair; NRC, observer)
Greg Fahlman (NRC, observer)

CATAC Update on the Thirty Meter Telescope

par Michael Balogh (CATAC Chair)
(Cassiopeia – hivers 2020)

The recently published Canadian LRP2020 recommends, as its top priority for large ground-based facilities, “that Canada participate in a very large optical telescope (VLOT), and that this participation be at a level that provides compelling opportunities for Canadian leadership in science, technology and instrumentation”. The report notes further that this access is best implemented through “continued participation in TMT, either at the currently proposed Maunakea site or at the scientifically acceptable alternative of Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos”. This is consistent with past recommendations and reaffirms the importance of VLOT access for the Canadian optical/infrared astronomy community in the coming decades. The leadership opportunities provided by TMT (or any VLOT) depend to some degree on the final share, governance model and construction timeline. CATAC expects that there will be more certainty about those factors over the next year, but with the information available today we agree that participation in TMT (at either site) represents the best route to fulfill the goals of the LRP.

LRP2020 also recommends developing and adopting “a comprehensive set of guiding principles for the locations of astronomy facilities and associated infrastructure in which Canada participates. These principles should “be centred on consent from the Indigenous Peoples and traditional title holders who would be affected by any astronomy project”. CATAC is aware that many Canadians are very concerned about how TMT construction in Hawai’i can be consistent with these principles, and that there has been important discussion within Canada about this. CATAC has raised these concerns with the Board. Our recommendation for continued support of TMT is based in part on the following considerations:

  • First and foremost, CATAC reaffirms our position that the decision about whether or not TMT is built in Hawaii should be entirely in the hands of the Hawaiian community, and that they are the only ones who should be responsible for defining what consent means within their own constituency.
  • CATAC awaits the full development of the guiding principles recommended by the LRP, which we hope and expect will be consistent with the previous point.
  • Recent developments have led to an opportunity for renewed dialogue within Hawai’i, that CATAC believes is consistent with the views expressed in our LRP, and the white papers on Indigeneous rights submitted to that process. These discussions are taking place among diverse groups, and involve not only TMT but all astronomy on Maunakea, as well as many broader issues of Hawaiian society. We describe some of these developments below, and note there are more details in our recent report to the CASCA Board, which is available on our website. It is vitally important to give these discussions the time and space they need. They are connected to concerns that are much broader than TMT, or astronomy.

Telescope Site, Partnership and Construction Timeline

On August 13, in response to the initial planning proposal for the US Extremely Large Telescope Program (ELTP), the US National Science Foundation (NSF) announced the initiation of an informal outreach process to engage people and groups interested in the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project. Hawai’i House Speaker Saiki issued a press release about this on Aug 18. This outreach is a precursor to an NSF decision about whether or not to accept the ELTP proposal and formally join the project.

This engagement on the part of the NSF is welcomed by the TMT International Observatory (TIO) Partners, and brings a new opportunity for a Hawaiian consultation process and formal review, led by a widely respected body. It also establishes a timeline of events that will take place over the next 12-18 months, each of which will provide increasing clarity over the future viability of TMT:

  • The US Astro2020 process is anticipated to release their public report in mid-2021. A top ranking in this report is essential for NSF engagement and the viability of the project. The report may make other recommendations relevant to TMT.
  • Should the NSF accept the ELTP proposal, this will trigger a federal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which will take about three years to complete. Included as part of this review would be the important Section 106 process of the National Historical Protection Act. This would have the significant effect of leading to a federally recognized record of the importance of Maunakea to Hawaiians. Information from the public consultation phase of this process will shed further light on the situation as the review progresses. We note that a federal EIS may also be required at La Palma if the NSF is a partner.
  • Upon acceptance of the proposal, NSF will also conduct an in-depth Preliminary Design Review, likely in late 2021. This is a comprehensive review of all aspects of the project, including operations and a detailed costing.

Assuming TMT construction cannot begin until the EIS has completed (which may not be the case), construction might not start before 2023. An estimate of seven years construction and three years commissioning would mean first science in 2033 or later. The main competition for TMT is the ESO Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) project. The ELT is currently under construction, and current planning anticipates technical first light (TFL ) by the end of 2025, though the COVID-19 pandemic may add some delay. It is planned that all four first-light instruments would be commissioned within two to three years after TFL. Assuming no delays to that project, the gap to TMT science could be six years. But, at this point, there is enough uncertainty in the timeline of both projects that the gap could be larger, or smaller.

In parallel with these NSF-led consultations, there are several other important discussions and activities underway in Hawaii. These include:

  • In May, 2020, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) launched an independent review of the University of Hawaii (UH) management of Maunakea as part of the Master Lease renewal process. The independent Hawaiian consultation group Ku`iwalu, has been engaged to evaluate the effectiveness of the UH and the OMKM in its implementation of the Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP). Some information about the process underway is available at their website. At the time of launch, the review was expected to conclude by the end of 2020, though this may be delayed.
  • An important part of Governor Ige’s proposed path forward for TMT on Maunakea is the decommissioning of “as many telescopes as possible”. This process is underway, through the OMKM. Decommissioning is a lengthy process, as it involves its own Environmental Assessment and DLNR permit preceding the physical removal of the facility and complete restoration of the site. Decommissioning of the UH-Hilo teaching telescope, Hoku Kea is expected to be completed in 2023. The Caltech Submillimeter Observatory decommissioning is anticipated to be completed in 2022.
  • Multiple groups in Hawaii are meeting to discuss broad issues such as housing, education and land ownership, including the role of astronomy. Among these groups are the Hawai’i Executive Collaborative and the ‘Aina Aloha Economic Futures. Participants in these meetings include TMT opponents. Canadians associated with TMT have also been invited to participate in some of these discussions, though the travel restrictions associated with the pandemic have significantly affected this effort.

Instrumentation Update

The TMT Exoplanet Roadmap Committee is considering the prioritization of desired exoplanet capabilities for planned second-generation TMT instruments: PSI, MICHI and HROS. The prioritization would be a function of the various instrument modes (imaging, spectroscopy, polarimetry) and their implementation (resolution, IFU, choice of wavelengths/bands). Input from the Canadian community is welcome, before mid-January. A short summary of proposed capabilities together with an Excel template for feedback are available on the CATAC web page.

Project Office Update

Dr. Gary Sanders, who has led the TMT Project as Project Manager with distinction since its inception, will retire at the start of 2021. Deputy Project Manager Fengchuan Liu, who has worked closely with Gary and co-directed the project for the last five years, will assume the Project Manager (acting) position while TMT searches for a permanent project manager.

President’s Message

By / par Sara Ellison (CASCA President)
(Cassiopeia – Winter / hivers 2020)

The Long Range Plan is out! This final report represents two years of effort in our community to examine the state of our professional activities and ambitions from both a scientific and societal perspective. Hundreds of people in our community have contributed in a variety of ways to the generation of this finished product, ranging from co-authoring white papers, attending town hall meetings and dedicated AGM sessions, to providing feedback to the panel along the journey. A broad message of gratitude is therefore due to the entire community for your engagement and collaboration. As a Society, we owe our greatest thanks to the LRP panel for the immense undertaking of leading this process: Pauline Barmby, Matt Dobbs, Bryan Gaensler, Jeremy Heyl, Natasha Ivanova, David Lafreniere, Brenda Matthews and Alice Shapley. The French version of the LRP, as well as the typeset version with full figures and design and hard copies, are expected early in the new year.

As alluded to in my last President’s message, the next challenge in the LRP process is its implementation, and the Board (with input from the current LRPIC, as well as LRP co-chairs) has been laying out the strategy for this next step. Oversight and monitoring of both existing and future facilities will remain in the remit of our current CASCA committees: the Ground-based Astronomy Committee (GAC, currently chaired by Stefi Baum) and the Joint Committee on Space Astronomy (JCSA, currently chaired by Locke Spencer). In order to tackle the broad ranging community-based LRP recommendations, CASCA will create a new committee, the LRP Community Recommendations Implementation Committee (LCRIC), whose portfolio will encompass the societal-level aspects of the plan, including equity, indigenous matters, outreach and sustainability. The LCRIC will work to generate an actionable implementation plan from the LRP’s recommendations, working with existing CASCA committees and striking new working groups as needed to convert the recommendations into reality over the next decade. We are just beginning the first steps in establishing this new LCRIC, but I am delighted to announce that Christine Wilson (McMaster University) has agreed to be the inaugural Chair. Given their remit, the new LCRIC, in partnership with the GAC and JCSA, will replace the previous LRPIC – I thank John Hutchings and his team for their wisdom and tireless efforts over many years.

The top (unfunded) large facilities in the LRP are the SKA and CASTOR. As discussed in my September message, the SKA is reaching a critical point with the IGO expected to take over the project imminently. Securing membership and funding for Canada has been at the top of CASCA’s agenda of effort over the last few months. I have been working closely with Kristine Spekkens (Canadian SKA Science Director) and Gilles Joncas (AACS Chair) to prepare the ground for the Coalition’s lobbying activities. These activities are now well underway with a positive first meeting with officials from ISED, and more in the planning stages. In collaboration with ACURA, the AACS has also mobilized its university connections, with several VPR briefings already completed across the country. I encourage you to look at the Canadian SKA webpage, which hosts a wealth of material on the project, its science aspirations, industry connections and societal impacts. In particular, I point you to a handy 4-page summary of the project in the Canadian context, in case you have the opportunity to discuss the project in your broader networks.

With an anticipated launch in the late 2020s, there is also significant on-going progress on planning for the CASTOR space telescope. A more complete report is provided by Pat Côté in this Edition, but the long-awaited CSA technical study request for proposals (STDP RFP) has now been issued (and, by the time you read this, closed), representing a significant step in the preparatory process. CASTOR is one of seven “Priority Technologies” in this call, and there are five different work packages within the CASTOR study. The CSA has also started working a mission development plan for CASTOR: i.e., a summary of timelines, budget requirements, milestones and action items that mark the path towards launch later this decade. CASTOR represents a truly unique and exciting component in Canada’s astronomy portfolio – the potential for a Canada-led UV-optical space telescope will not only bring terrific science returns, as well as showcasing and supporting our national expertise in several technology domains, but it will generate tremendous excitement and pride in the general public, inspiring the next generation of budding scientists and engineers.

On the digital infrastructure side, the New Digital Research Infrastructure Organization (NDRIO) is ramping up to eventually replace Compute Canada. Unlike Compute Canada, NDRIO is funded directly by ISED, and CASCA is an Associate Member (as is CADC). NDRIO held its first AGM at the end of September, at which the inaugural Researcher Council (RC) was announced. Erik Rosolowsky (U of A) was one of approximately 20 appointees on the new RC. Despite this success, it is the responsibility of our broader community to engage with NDRIO and communicate our needs. Notably, astronomy represents ~5% of Compute Canada users but uses ~20% of its resources. Our success as a field therefore critically relies on effective and appropriate DRI. NDRIO has outlined several steps in its initial consultation process on needs assessment within the broader community. Several white papers are under preparation within our astronomy community in response to the first step in this call. A user survey is also expected in the near future – please take the time to complete this survey when it comes your way!

Preparations for the CASCA 2021 AGM (May 10-14) continue apace – since CASCA was founded in 1971, this will be our 50th birthday party! The SOC and OOC have developed an exciting scientific and social program for CASCA 2021. With the release of the LRP, and the broad reaching issues it has assessed, the SOC has chosen a theme that will align with the LRP2020’s goals: « Canadian Astronomy: Dialing It Up To 11 ». The SOC has selected a roster of invited speakers and the invitations will have been sent by the time you read this. The organizing committees have scored quite the coup with securing recent Nobel laureate Professor Andrea Ghez to present the Helen Sawyer Hogg Public Lecture. Two other ‘evening’ events have been planned. There will be a games night featuring the popular game ‘Among Us’ and the CASCA Banquet will feature « CASCA Has Talent » – a chance for CASCA members to demonstrate their non-astronomy skills. The OOC is also working on integrating daily social interactions; it won’t be quite the same as being together in Penticton, but it sounds like it will be a lot of fun nonetheless! Watch this space in the new year for more details and registration.

Plan à long terme 2020

From Pauline Barmby, Bryan Gaensler (LRP2020 co-chairs PLT2020)
(Cassiopeia – Winter / hivers 2020)

Au nom de Matt Dobbs, Jeremy Heyl, Natasha Ivanova, David Lafrenière, Brenda Matthews et Alice Shapley, nous sommes heureux de présenter le rapport final du Plan à long terme 2020 de la CASCA pour l’astronomie canadienne (PLT2020). La version non formatée du rapport est désormais disponible sur le site Web de CASCA. Une version conçue par des professionnels et une traduction en français sont en cours et devraient être disponibles au début de 2021.

Nous remercions tous ceux qui ont contribué à ces recommandations en rédigeant un livre blanc, en assistant à une discussion communautaire, en participant à des consultations ou en répondant à nos nombreuses demandes d’informations. Nous voudrions particulièrement souligner le travail très dur des membres du panel PLT2020 au cours des vingt derniers mois. Nous remercions également les agences dont le soutien financier a permis le processus PLT2020, et le conseil d’administration de la CASCA de nous avoir confié la direction de cet exercice.

Ce sera notre dernière mise à jour Cassiopeia. La section PLT2020 sur le site Web de la CASCA contient des liens vers tous les livres blancs et rapports soumis ainsi qu’un résumé du processus. Les versions conçues et traduites du rapport y seront disponibles quand fini.

chairs@lrp2020.groups.io

Graduate Student Highlights

By Carter Rhea (Chair, CASCA Graduate Student Committee)
(Cassiopeia – Winter / hivers 2020)

Mainak Singha — Université du Manitoba

La recherche de Mainak portent sur la façon dont la faible accrétion des « noyaux galactiques actifs » (AGN) peut stimuler les processus d’évolution des galaxies. La plupart des modèles d’évolution des galaxies qui réussissent nécessitent que l’AGN lance des flux à l’échelle galactique pour diriger les processus d’évolution des galaxies. Afin de retracer les signes de ces flux, il utilise les données spectroscopiques (spectres) du SDSS (Sloan Digital Sky Survey). Les raies d’émission de ces spectres mettent en évidence l’ionisation causée par les photons des disques d’accrétion de l’AGN ou les chocs de l’AGN. Toute asymétrie dans les profils des lignes d’émission indique que le gaz se rapproche ou s’éloigne de nous, ce qui est la signature de flux sortants.

Figure 1


Figure 1: Diagramme standard BPT du SDSS DR7. La radiogalaxie J142041+025930 se trouve dans la région LINER (Low Ionization Nuclear Emission Line Region) de la partie suggérant qu’il s’agit d’une radiogalaxie à faible excitation (LERG).

Vivian Tan — Université York

Les recherches de Vivian se concentrent sur les galaxies qui résident au sein des amas de galaxies à des décalages vers le rouge de 0.25 < z < 0.6, dans les Hubble Frontier Fields. Les amas sont des environnements dynamiques où les galaxies interagissent et s’éteignent, ce qui signifie le passage de la formation d'étoiles à la phase de repos. Les processus d'éteignant modifient la morphologie d'une galaxie, dont nous voulons mesurer non seulement par leurs profils de lumière, mais aussi par leur distribution de masse stellaire. La cartographie de la masse stellaire d'une galaxie est généralement difficile à z > 0, mais les Frontier Fields disposent d’une photométrie Hubble multibande profonde. Cela signifie que des cartes de masse stellaire résolues sont possibles même pour des galaxies aussi petites que 108 masses solaires. Les galaxies ayant des masses stellaires aussi faibles n’ont pas été étudiées de manière résolue à z > 0. Comme nous pouvons analyser la morphologie avec des cartes de masse stellaire résolues, nous avons constaté que les galaxies quiescentes qui sont moins massives que 109.5 masses solaires sont plus susceptibles d’être dominées par un disque (indice de Sersic ~ 1 à 2), mais les galaxies quiescentes sont dominées par un bulbe au-dessus de cette limite de masse (indice de Sersic de 4 ou plus). Ce phénomène n’a été constaté que dans les amas, mais pas dans les environnements « de champ » moins denses. Cela signifie que différents processus d’extinction ont dû se produire pour transformer ces galaxies, et ces processus d’extinction dépendent à la fois de la masse des galaxies et de leur environnement.

Figure 2


La figure 2 montre le processus de création des cartes de masse stellaire résolues par un processus appelé « SED-fitting ». La galaxie est divisée en compartiments spatiaux, et un SED est ajusté au flux photométrique de plusieurs bandes dans chacun des compartiments. La SED ajustée peut révéler la masse stellaire de cette région de la galaxie et, en rassemblant tous ces éléments, on obtient une carte de masse stellaire résolue. Les mesures de l’indice Sersic de la masse stellaire sont obtenues par ajustement paramétrique d’un profil Sersic 2D directement sur la carte de la masse stellaire à l’aide de GALFIT.

Jessica Campbell — Université de Toronto

Les recherches de Jessica se concentrent sur la nature multiphasique du champ magnétique de notre Galaxie et sur la façon dont il se connecte entre les différentes phases du milieu interstellaire (ISM). Que ce soit le milieu ionisé chaud turbulent (WIM) qui remplit une grande partie de la Galaxie ou le milieu neutre froid (CNM) que l’on trouve souvent dans les feuilles et les filaments, ce milieu ISM complexe est imprégné de rayons cosmiques et de champs magnétiques de haute énergie. Lorsqu’ils sont accélérés par le champ magnétique, ces rayons cosmiques émettent un rayonnement radio synchrotron fortement polarisé linéairement. Lorsque cette émission polarisée passe à travers l’ISM de premier plan, les électrons thermiques et les champs magnétiques de l’ISM font tourner le plan de polarisation, un effet appelé rotation de Faraday. Ces rayons cosmiques peuvent également pénétrer et ioniser les régions les plus denses de l’ISM, ce qui fait que même le milieu essentiellement neutre est couplé au champ magnétique par des structures HI linéaires de 21 cm appelées « fibres HI ». Malgré la richesse des informations sur le champ magnétique de l’ISM et du CNM, on sait très peu de choses sur leurs relations mutuelles. Les milieux diffus ionisés et froids en touffes partagent-ils un champ magnétique commun ? Si oui, à quelle fréquence et dans quelles circonstances cela se produit-il ? Telles sont les questions qui motivent les recherches de Jessica.

Figure 3


La figure 3 montre l’émission de poussière de Planck à 353 GHz, où l’image en couleur représente l’intensité totale (non polarisée) et les lignes texturées indiquent l’orientation du champ magnétique. L’émission de poussière contient clairement les mêmes morphologies de genou et de fourche, et l’orientation du champ global est à peu près parallèle aux filaments polarisés F1 et F3.

Robert Bickley — Université de Victoria

La recherche de Robert se concentre sur l’interaction entre l’astronomie observationnelle et l’apprentissage automatique. Il utilise les techniques visuelles pour identifier les galaxies qui ont subies récemment les fusions avec une autre galaxie. Ces fusions ont une signature distincte – elles créent des morphologies bizarres et déplacent les étoiles qui appartiennent aux galaxies. Pour identifier les fusions en utilisant l’apprentissage automatique, il entraîne les réseaux au neurones convolutifs sur les fusions (et non-fusions) prises de la simulation bien connue: IllustrisTNG. Il les utilise d’entraîner, valider, et tester les réseaux.

Figure 4


La figure 4 démontre l’habileté du réseau à identifier les fusions comme une fonction de leur environnement. Si une galaxie a une voisine proche, sa valeur de r_1 va être petite; par contre, s’il n’y a pas de voisine, la valeur de r_1 va être tellement grande. Le panneau en haut démontre le nombre total de fusions et les contrôles (bleue et orange). De plus, il catégorise les classifications comme correcte ou incorrecte (fp, brun: contrôle classifié comme un fusion; tn, violet: contrôles bien-classifiées; fn, rouge: les fusions classifiées comme des contrôles; tp, verte: fusions bien-classifiées). Le panneau en bas montre la fraction de fusions et galaxies de contrôle qui sont identifiées correctement par le réseau.

Rapport final de PLT2020

Chers collègues:

Au nom de Matt Dobbs, Jeremy Heyl, Natasha Ivanova, David Lafrenière, Brenda Matthews et Alice Shapley, nous sommes heureux de présenter le rapport final du Plan à long terme 2020 de la CASCA pour l’astronomie canadienne (PLT2020). La version non formatée du rapport est désormais disponible sur le site Web de CASCA sur . Une version conçue par des professionnels et une traduction en français sont en cours et devraient être disponibles au début de 2021.

Nous remercions tous ceux qui ont contribué à ces recommandations en rédigeant un livre blanc, en assistant à une discussion communautaire, en participant à des consultations ou en répondant à nos nombreuses demandes d’informations. Nous voudrions particulièrement souligner le travail très dur des membres du panel PLT2020 au cours des vingt derniers mois.

La section PLT2020 sur le site Web de la CASCA (https://casca.ca/?page_id=11501&lang=fr) contient des liens vers tous les livres blancs et rapports soumis ainsi qu’un résumé du processus. Les versions conçues et traduites du rapport y seront disponibles quand fini.

Pauline Barmby & Bryan Gaensler
co-présidents PLT2020
chairs@lrp2020.groups.io

Rapport final de LRP2020

Au nom de Matt Dobbs, Jeremy Heyl, Natasha Ivanova, David Lafrenière, Brenda Matthews et Alice Shapley, nous sommes heureux de présenter le rapport final du Plan à long terme 2020 de la CASCA pour l’astronomie canadienne (PLT2020). La version non formatée du rapport est désormais disponible sur le site Web de CASCA. Une version conçue par des professionnels et une traduction en français sont en cours et devraient être disponibles au début de 2021.

Nous remercions tous ceux qui ont contribué à ces recommandations en rédigeant un livre blanc, en assistant à une discussion communautaire, en participant à des consultations ou en répondant à nos nombreuses demandes d’informations. Nous voudrions particulièrement souligner le travail très dur des membres du panel PLT2020 au cours des vingt derniers mois.
La section PLT2020 sur le site Web de la CASCA contient des liens vers tous les livres blancs et rapports soumis ainsi qu’un résumé du processus. Les versions conçues et traduites du rapport y seront disponibles quand fini.

Pauline Barmby & Bryan Gaensler
co-présidents PLT2020
chairs@lrp2020.groups.io

Sincerely,
Pauline Barmby

Prof. Pauline Barmby
Associate Chair, Undergraduate Programs
Department of Physics & Astronomy, Western University
pbarmby@uwo.ca

Canadian Astronomy, Racism, and the Environment – Part 1

By / par Martine Lokken, Chris Matzner, Joel Roediger, Mubdi Rahman, Dennis Crabtree, Pamela Freeman, Vincent Henault-Brunet (The CASCA Sustainability Committee, The CASCA Equity & Inclusivity Committee)
(Cassiopeia – Autumn / l’automne 2020)

Part 1: An Introduction to Environmental Racism

This year’s widespread protests in support of Wetʼsuwetʼen sovereignty, and in support of Black lives in the face of police brutality, have brought heightened attention to the racism and systemic racial inequalities that have long threatened Indigenous and Black people in North America. The astronomy community has been coming to terms with its own systemic racism [1], and it is important that we examine our field’s environmental impacts [2] through the same lens. In this moment, we in CASCA’s Sustainability Committee reflect on the many ways in which environmentalism and racism interact. Here we present some background on how these issues are intertwined with the climate crisis and environmental damage both globally and within Canada. In a later article with the Equity & Inclusivity Committee we will ask how we as astronomers have benefitted from and perpetuated racism, environmental or otherwise, and what we can do to change this.

The climate crisis is projected to deal a sequence of crushing blows to peoples of the arctic, equatorial, and oceanic regions of the world. Of those affected, the UN warns that Indigenous peoples face the most climate-based disruption because of their strong cultural and economic connections to the land on which they live [3]. Indeed, this has already begun [4]. Drought now affects a quarter of the world’s population, mainly in equatorial regions [5], leading to food insecurity and mass migration [6, 7]. Heat waves are on the rise, some now surpassing what humans can naturally survive [8]. Last year, massive fires decimated the Australian landscape, damaging perhaps thousands of Indigenous cultural sites [9], while deliberate fires ate away at the home of the Amazon’s Indigenous people. This year’s Amazon fires could be even worse [10], and record heat waves are intensifying annual wildfires in Siberia [11]. Vast floods have covered a quarter of Bangladesh [12], while rising seas are swallowing island nations [13]. The distribution of global wealth plays a major role in deciding who can best survive these extreme events: while wealthy areas of developed nations are able to adapt to some of the effects of climate change through investment in infrastructure, the world’s poorest are disproportionately losing their homes, livelihoods, and even lives [14]. Meanwhile, the worst per-capita contributors to the climate crisis are primarily located in the northern hemisphere [15] and led by wealthy nations such as Canada, the U.S., Australia, Saudi Arabia, and other major oil-producing countries. The disparities between the worst perpetrators of the climate crisis versus those who suffer the greatest impacts correlate with inequalities of wealth, power, and territory that have been sown over the long history of European colonialism, and are reinforced by systemic racism.

Canada is no exception to this. Our country has a tragic history of slavery, anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism, and attempted erasure of Indigenous cultures. Much of our wealth is based on the exploits of land which often was cheated or taken by force from Indigenous nations [16, 17]. We are currently the fourth largest producer and exporter of oil [18], and the average Canadian’s contribution to the climate crisis is among the world’s greatest [19]. However, unsurprisingly, systemic racism plays a major role in who has benefitted from this wealth versus who is most impacted by the environmental damage.

Many rural Indigenous communities in Canada are disproportionately feeling the effects of climate change. Ice roads, which in the winter enable goods to reach northern communities, become unavailable or unsafe as temperatures rise [20]. Melting ice and extreme weather is cutting Inuit people off from traditional hunting lands, severely threatening people’s physical and mental health [21]. In Eastern Indigenous communities, rising sea levels have negatively impacted traditional medicines and food supplies by increasing the salination of freshwater [22]. In addition to the unintentional impacts from climate change, there are also many situations in which racist planning for polluting sites such as factories, mills, and pipelines have caused environmental harm to rural Indigenous communities. For example, for 53 years the Northern Pulp mill in Nova Scotia treated its effluent in Boat Harbour (A’se’k), a tidal estuary upon which the Pictou Landing First Nation depended for food, livelihoods, and culture. Only this year, after years of community activism, has the provincial government ended the pollution of Boat Harbour, allowing its restoration to begin [23]. These various stresses to rural communities can spur an exodus to urban centers, leading to the loss of languages and cultures that are often deeply connected to the local environment [22, 20].

Systemic racism has also resulted in various environmental disparities for racialized communities in urban areas. The Canadian government warns of the dangers of urban heat islands, areas which amplify warm temperatures due to an excess of paved surfaces and lack of green space [24]. Populations more at risk for heat-related illness include Indigenous people, newcomers to Canada, and poor people [24]. The systemic effects which cause higher poverty rates among racialized people [25] and a lack of heat-protecting infrastructure in poor neighborhoods combine to make racialized Canadians more vulnerable to rising heat waves. (Because of Canadian astronomy’s connections to the U.S., it is also worth noting that the long-lasting effects of racist redlining in many U.S. cities have resulted in heat islands being centered on predominantly Black neighborhoods there [26, 27].) In addition to heat, pollution is another major health issue in urban centers. Similar to Pictou Landing, there are many cases of polluting sites being built near Indigenous or Black communities in urban areas (e.g. “Chemical Valley”, ON [28] and Africville, Nova Scotia [29]). These compounding environmental effects can cause serious health problems in marginalized communities, such as higher cancer rates and respiratory issues [28, 30], increased heat-related illnesses [30], poisoning from high levels of dangerous materials in water sources (e.g. Grassy Narrows, ON [31]), and worse pregnancy outcomes faced by Black mothers [U.S. data, 32]1.

The disproportionate effect of the climate crisis on racialized communities is exacerbated by the casual and systemic racism often present in predominantly-white environmental circles and the policies put forth by them. An important example of this is the centrality of the overpopulation argument to many Western approaches to the climate crisis, including in scientific circles [33]. While regularly debunked by public health scholars with the topical expertise in this area [34,35,36], racist origins and implications have been used to advance racist policies in the name of environmental sustainability [37,38]. This interplay has acted to shift the blame from the consumption of the Global North and casts the blame on the Global South, including some of the very populations that are most susceptible to the effects of the climate crisis.

Therefore, although the climate crisis will affect everyone to some extent, it is important that we recognize how global and local histories of racism and colonialism factor into the equation. Those of us with the privilege to be relatively insulated from environmental damage — at least for now — must especially examine our environmental impact and our complicity in systems of oppression. In doing so, it is essential that we learn from the BIPOC leaders who have historically spearheaded the movement for environmental justice like Dr. Robert Bullard and the Rev. Benjamin Chavis [39] and listen to the young voices, such as Makasá Looking Horse, who are taking the reins [40]). In our next article, we will examine how Canadian astronomy has benefitted from and continues to partake in white supremacist systems while also contributing to environmental injustice. We will discuss how to change the status quo, considering issues such as respect for Indigenous land rights and frequency of academic flights.


1Canada doesn’t require collection of race-based health data, an issue which has gained awareness during the Covid-19 pandemic (https://globalnews.ca/news/7180914/canada-race-based-data-covid-19/).
The general taboos around studying the effects of race in Canada partially explain why there are fewer available resources on environmental racism here than in the US.

References

  1. https://www.particlesforjustice.org/letter
  2. https://arxiv.org/abs/1910.01272
  3. https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/climate-change.html
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/08/06/climate/climate-change-inequality-heat.html
  5. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/06/climate/world-water-stress.html?action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage
  6. https://features.propublica.org/climate-migration/model-how-climate-refugees-move-across-continents/
  7. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/12/climate/kenya-drought.html
  8. https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/19/eaaw1838
  9. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00164-8
  10. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/17/dramatic-footage-fuels-fears-amazon-fires-could-be-worse-than-last-year
  11. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/wildfires-sibera-russia-burned-area-larger-than-greece-heat-wave/
  12. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/30/climate/bangladesh-floods.html
  13. https://www.un.org/en/chronicle/article/small-islands-rising-seas
  14. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/02/13/climate/manila-san-francisco-sea-level-rise.html
  15. https://ourworldindata.org/per-capita-co2
  16. https://www.ubcpress.ca/asset/9296/1/9780774821018.pdf
  17. http://fnn.criaw-icref.ca/images/userfiles/files/LWM3_ColonialismImpacts.pdf
  18. https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/science-data/data-analysis/energy-data-analysis/energy-facts/crude-oil-facts/20064
  19. https://ourworldindata.org/per-capita-co2
  20. https://bifrostonline.org/how-is-climate-change-impacting-indigenous-communities-in-remote-regions-of-canada/
  21. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/30/canada-inuits-climate-change-impact-global-warming-melting-ice
  22. https://www.climatechangenews.com/2019/11/28/indigenous-communities-forefront-climate-resilience/
  23. https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/pictou-landing-first-nation-northern-pulp-1.5447179
  24. https://www.canada.ca/en/services/health/publications/healthy-living/reducing-urban-heat-islands-protect-health-canada.html
  25. https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/esdc-edsc/migration/documents/eng/communities/reports/poverty_profile/snapshot.pdf
  26. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/09/climate/city-heat-islands.html
  27. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/jan/13/racist-housing-policies-us-deadly-heatwaves-exposure-study
  28. https://ecojustice.ca/exposing-canadas-toxic-secret/
  29. https://humanrights.ca/story/the-story-of-africville
  30. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/08/12/science.aay4497/tab-pdf
  31. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/grassy-narrows-framework-1.5520501
  32. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/18/climate/climate-change-pregnancy-study.html
  33. https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/12/12/16766872/overpopulation-exaggerated-concern-climate-change-world-population
  34. Rosling, H., Rosling Rönnlund, A. and Rosling, O., 2019. Factfulness. Paris: Flammarion.
  35. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/27/what-goes-up-population-crisis-wrong-fertility-rates-decline
  36. https://www.nhpr.org/post/outsidein-problem-concerns-about-over-population-part-one#stream/0
  37. https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/environmentalisms-racist-history
  38. https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/67/12/1026/4605229
  39. https://www.nrdc.org/stories/environmental-justice-movement
  40. https://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/making-waves/2018/11/six-nations-youth-leads-protest-against-nestl%C3%A9-water-operation