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The View from Space

WHAT DOES the leatherback turtle have in common with the latest in space technology? The soft-shelled sea turtle, which has existed for at least 100 million years, is threatened with extinction on both the Pacific and the Atlantic coasts. But thanks to tiny satellite transmitters attached to a group of leatherbacks in the Atlantic Ocean, a research scientist at Dalhousie University in Halifax can now monitor their migration to gain a better understanding of how we can protect them.

Satellite telemetry is but one example of how space can offer a singular view of the Earth and the state of its health, says astronaut Marc Garneau, who was appointed president of the Canadian Space Agency last November. Under his leadership, the planet and its environment will become the space agency's top priority.

"We are increasingly asked to monitor our natural resources with greater precision," says Garneau. "Space offers us a perspective from which we can observe changes and threats to these resources in a more precise and global fashion."

Garneau will highlight the achievements of Canada's space program and how it benefits Canadians in their daily lives during two lectures sponsored by The Royal Canadian Geographical Society on April 24 and 25 in Ottawa.

Canada's top astronaut will show how Canadian technology is tracking, for example, the transfer of greenhouse gases, such as methane and carbon dioxide, around the world. He will also talk about the use of satellite telemetry in Space for Species), a web-based educational project geared to students 11 to 14 years old. The program links students with wildlife biologists to observe from space the migrations and habitats of several species: the leatherback turtle, the polar bear, the caribou and the common and king eider ducks.

More details on these lectures.

More information on the Canadian Space Program.

- Monique Roy-Sole

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