Space as a National Asset for Canada (SNAC)

June 15-17, 2020


"In the second century of Confederation, the fabric of Canadian society will be held together by strands in
space just as strongly as railway and telegraphy held together the scattered provinces in the last century." 

- John H. Chapman

The utilization of space underpins much of modern society, including enabling GPS location, accurately time-stamping ATM activities, connecting distant communities, and tracking severe weather. As a result, A New Space Strategy for Canada (2019) identifies space as a strategic national asset. The goals of this conference-workshop are to bring together the stakeholders from universities, government, industry, and community organizations that develop and utilize space to assess the current status of space infrastructure and identify future needs for Canada.


Three days with conference presentations + embedded workshops. The first full day will be presentation sessions, including talks, panels, etc. Presentation sessions will be both invited plenary sessions and contributed parallel sessions, with the goals of sharing information and starting discussions. The first day will finish with a brainstorming session to identify key themes for whitepapers. The 2nd day + 3rd morning session will be facilitated break-out workshops with subject experts designed to draft whitepapers. The 3rd afternoon will be a townhall to present preliminary whitepaper results. The conference is intended to foster communication across disciplines and between university, government, industry, and the public. Final whitepapers will be due 2 weeks after the end of the conference.


5-10 white papers on the future needs and challenges for space infrastructure to be digitally hosted permanently by Western Libraries. Each conference presentation session is expected to generate at least one whitepaper, with an open call for additional whitepaper proposals that will be selected in advance of the conference.

Proposed Sessions:

  1. Monitoring and Preparing for Climate Change: Canada is a vast country whose landscape can only be efficiently characterized and monitored by Earth observations from space. What observations are required to prepare for the impacts of climate change and guide necessary responses?

  2. Connecting Remote Canada: Isolated communities in the North and other remote regions of Canada often do not have local access to the digital resources that underpin our society including high speed internet. How can space infrastructure address this lack and support these communities?

  3. Remote Health: Specialized medical professionals are concentrated in population centres with large teaching hospitals. What should telehealth encompass to meet the needs of Canadians away from these centres?

  4. Environmental Productivity: Earth observations and GPS tracking can enable precision agricultural and extraction operations that require fewer input materials, cause less environmental damage, and produce higher yields. How can producers of all sizes access these tools for better outcomes?

  5. Space Resources: Exploration beyond the Moon may enable and require resource extraction on other worlds. Who should oversee potential off-Earth resource extraction? What are the ethical and scientific ramifications of these potential practices and their relationship to questions of access and property rights?

  6. Disaster Mitigation and Response: Catastrophic natural events such as floods, fire, drought, and earthquakes can often be anticipated by longitudinal monitoring via Earth observations from space of vulnerable regions. Real-time monitoring of the ground situation can facilitate rapid response. What data are needed to prepare for and respond to natural disasters?

  7. Security: Essential space infrastructure such as communications satellites, GPS networks, and Earth-observing instruments are often held by multinational companies or foreign countries. What does Canada need to ensure sovereignty and reliable, secure access to essential data?

  8. Open Space Data: Taking advantage of the huge amounts of Earth observation data to effectively utilize them in decision making requires adequate support. How should this information be managed and hosted? What are long-term requirements for access and preservation?

  9. From Exploration to Infrastructure: Innovations in technology, data analysis, and data handling often arise from the demanding requirements of exploratory science. Once developed and tested, these can then be applied to enhance essential space infrastructure such as Earth-observing satellites and communications networks. What is in the pipeline in space exploration that could have far-reaching impacts on space resources?

  10. Space Law and Governance: Low Earth orbit constellations with thousands of satellites will introduce consequent risk of satellites collisions and damage from space debris as well as affect our view of the night sky. What national and international governance structures are required for implementation and accountability?


  • Date: June 15-17, 2020
  • Time: 8:00AM-5:00PM
  • Location: Spencer Ivey Conference Center 551, Windermere Rd, London, ON N5X 2T1
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