Update on CASTOR

By John Hutchings, Patrick Côté (NRC Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Centre)
(Cassiopeia – Autumn 2022)

CASTOR continues to make progress on several fronts. The following list summarizes activities since the last e-CASS report in June.

  1. The ongoing work towards a collaboration with India featured a meeting between CSA and ISRO in July. Enthusiasm for the collaboration was expressed on both sides, and schedules exchanged. The next formal step awaits a meeting of the ISRO advisory committee APEX this month to formalize the joint mission. In the meantime, the Canadian and Indian teams continue to work on a common design and science plan.
  2. The UK Space Agency has issued an Announcement of Opportunity to fund bilateral missions of interest that specifically include CSA, and a proposal to fund CASTOR scientific and technical work is in preparation now. This is a timely step towards the UK participation that has been in discussion for some years.
  3. CSA will attend at International Astronautical Congress meeting in Paris later this month, where bilateral discussions are planned with these and other potential partners (NASA/JPL, ESA) for CASTOR. In addition, CASTOR will be on the agenda for regular CSA meetings with NASA.
  4. The ongoing CSA technical and phase 0 contracts continue to make progress. The work on acquiring, doping and coating prototype detectors involves Canadian industry, Teledyne-E2V, JPL, and HAA. Science working groups are detailing specific surveys and investigations as a design reference mission, aided by an extensive set of simulation and planning tools (FORECASTOR) being developed at HAA. A detailed costing exercise for the entire mission is also under way as part of the Phase 0 study.
  5. Overall, progress is on track to have a well-defined mission with international partners by about a year from now, as a powerful, Canadian-led mission of unique capability that will serve the community and the world over a wide range of research interests. These range from deep UV imaging surveys and spectra for cosmology, galactic evolution and AGN, to detailed studies of nearby galaxies, exoplanets, the outer solar system, and also enable unique time-domain and multi-messenger astronomy in the UV-blue.

For more information on the mission, see the CASTOR mission website.

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