Update on CASTOR

By / par John Hutchings, Patrick Côté (NRC Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Centre)
(Cassiopeia – Spring / printemps 2024)

CASTOR continues to progress towards approval and flight contracts. An extended (three-year) industrial technical (STDP) contract will wrap up this month, with the final review meeting scheduled on March 21. The work packages are being defined in detail for Phase A, with a subset prioritized in the event flight approval is delayed.

While delayed due to personnel and supply issues, the detector testing to be done at the University of Calgary vacuum facility is planned in detail. In discussions with JPL and Teledyne-e2v, the performance specifications and expectations for the flight arrays are being defined. Significant resources are being devoted by HAA to support this effort.

Our international partners also await funding, to be triggered by a formal approval in Canada, and subsequent agreements. Informal interchange of details continues as official export licences allow. The UK Space agency has approved their initial CASTOR funding to begin this spring. The Coalition for Astronomy has continued a program of meetings and mailings to alert government MPs, the PMO and related ministries to the CASTOR opportunity and international interest. They have also instigated significant media coverage. CASTOR will be represented in several upcoming conferences, including the CASCA AGM in Toronto where a Town Hall meeting is planned.

The recent MIDEX selection of UVEX by NASA offers further, anticipated, opportunity for collaboration and follow-up, similar to the CASTOR surveys coordinated with Roman, Euclid, and Rubin. The delayed launch date of 2030 for UVEX is also compatible with the CASTOR flight schedule.

For more information on the mission, see here.

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