Ottawa pledges funding for asteroid-bound mission

By: The Canadian Press

 | Jul 17, 2014 - 2:28 PM |
TORONTO - The federal government has announced $8.84 million in funding to build a laser scanning system that will be sent to map a distant asteroid.

Treasury Board President Tony Clement detailed the funding at an event in Toronto, saying the American-led mission that will use the Canadian scanner is expected to launch in 2016.

The Canadian Space Agency and technology company MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates have been designing an advanced Light Detection and Ranging system known as the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter.

The system, which can now be constructed with the funding commitment announced today, is expected to map the surface of the asteroid called 101955 Bennu during a 418-day mission.

It will give scientists a three-dimensional model of the asteroid which will help them study its shape, topography and evolution, and will help them determine where they can take a sample of the asteroid for a return to Earth in 2023.

Clement says learning more about asteroids will help humans learn more about Earth and it's origins.

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