Project Summaries

BEMA ExoMars (MDA’s Robotics and Automation division, 2015-Present)

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The 2018 mission of the ExoMars programme will deliver a rover and a surface platform to the surface of Mars, which will arrive to Mars after a nine-month journey. The goal of the ExoMars rover is to cross the Martian surface in search of signs of life. The primary objective is to land the rover at a site with high potential for finding well-preserved organic material, particularly from the very early history of the planet. The rover will establish the physical and chemical properties of Martian samples, mainly from the subsurface. MDA’s contribution is the chassis location system known as BEMA, providing drive, rover steering, and wheel deployment functionality to the rover in order to achieve mission goals.

Lunar Dust Study (MDA’s Robotics and Automation division, 2013-2014)


The goal of this project to evaluate the influence of simulated lunar planetary environmental conditions on various potential candidates for future lunar planetary exploration missions, to study the failure mode of each, and to develop mitigation technologies which would ensure the normal operational functionalities and performance of each component. A lunar environmental simulator/test facility is used for both baseline and mitigation testing of hardware. Hardware is tested under combined or individual influence of ultra-high vacuum, dust and thermal conditions in the appropriate temperature range, representing the lunar planetary environment.

Robotic Tools for Orbital Debris (MDA’s Robotics and Automation division, 2013)


This project seeks to demonstrate the most critical and high risk element of unprepared satellite servicing: capture of an uncontrolled vehicle by a natural structural feature. This is a very challenging task including the need for automation or autonomy. The goal of this technology development program is to develop, build, and test a prototype tool for the removal of orbital debris. A prepared spacecraft is one that has been designed to aid and simplify servicing tasks, such as including a grapple fixture that can be captured by a manipulator. However, an overwhelming majority of space vehicles in orbit today are unprepared. An unprepared space vehicle makes no accommodation for servicing. But there is enormous value in servicing these assets, both to commercial and government owners, and is critically important for the execution of future servicing missions.

DARPA Phoenix Program – Tools (MDA Robotics and Automation, 2013-2014)


Today, space debris is a serious issue. There are hundreds of satellite in GEO orbit alone and when a communication satellite fails, it usually means launching a brand new multimillion dollar replacement satellite. However, many of the satellites which are obsolete or have failed still have usable antennas, solar arrays and other components. The goal is finding a way to re-use this hardware instead of letting it become ‘space junk’. The goal of the DARPA Phoenix program is to develop and demonstrate technologies to re-use valuable components from retired, nonworking satellites in GEO. This involves robotically removing and re-using GEO-based space apertures and antennas from de-commissioned satellites in the graveyard or disposal orbit.

Next Generation Canadarm (MDA Robotics and Automation, 2010-2012)


The Next Generation Canadarm program focused on the research and development of technologies and techniques for the on-orbit servicing of satellites using robotic systems. Priorities include positioning Canada for strategic space robotics contributions to international space exploration initiatives, maintain and enhance space robotics technical expertise and leaderships, and to advance technology and operational readiness levels of on-orbit servicing using ground-based technology. Performed analysis and planning of robotic operations for satellite servicing Design Reference Missions – determining robotic trajectories and assessing design against operational concepts. Also a lead robotic operator for the NGC test bed, performing robotic demonstrations to various customers.

ACCESS Mars (NASA Ames Research Center, 2009)


Assessing Cave Capabilities and Evaluating Specific Solutions (ACCESS) Mars explored the future of robotic and human exploration missions to Mars via subsurface habitation. The primary objective was to develop a mission architecture for an initial settlement on Mars by assessing the feasibility of cave habitation as opposed to surface colonization. Lead editor on the project; findings and results were presented to the NASA Mission Systems Exploration Directorate.

Laminar Diffusion Flames in a Microgravity Environment (UTIAS, 2007-2009)


Experimental research focusing on the effects of gravity, buoyancy, and diffusion on the properties of laminar diffusion flames at sub-atmospheric pressures, in order to simulate microgravity using a high and low-pressure combustion chamber and other instrumentation. Studying laminar flames in a microgravity environment reduces convective buoyant forces, which simplifies the combustion process. Research objectives included flame structure, soot formation and oxidation, flame temperature and effects of soot radiation, diffusion flame stabilization mechanism, and effectiveness of using sub-atmospheric pressures as a microgravity environment. Research funded by the Canadian Space Agency, with multiple AIAA and IAC papers based on the experimental results.

Transformer Failure Investigation (NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center, 2008)

NASA Goddard

This investigation evaluated the risk of an electrically open circuit condition in an essential transformer for the NASA Standard for Soldered Electrical Connections – NASA Parts and Packaging Division at Goddard Space Flight Center. Determined the number of stress cycles required to break a solder joint and characterized the failure distribution, measured the electrical resistance of the solder joint as the part failed and after the crack fully opened, and performed thermal cycling to determine the temperature distribution along the wires.

Solar Powered Car Project (University of Calgary, 2004-2007)

Solar Car

The U of C Solar Powered Car project was the inaugural contribution to designing and building Calgary’s solar car to compete in the 2005 North American Solar Challenge – the longest solar race in the world. Led the Aerodynamics team, co-managed the mechanical team, and represented the U of C as the only female driver in the 10 day race from Texas to Calgary.

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