CaNoRock, CaNoRock STEP & CaNoSat

Canadian – Norwegian Student Exchange & Rocket Program

The Canada-Norway Student Sounding Rocket (CaNoRock) exchange program is a partnership between the Universities of Alberta, Calgary and Saskatchewan, the University of Oslo, University of Tromsø, Andøya Space Center and NAROM (Norwegian Center for Space Related Education) in Norway. The University of Bergen and University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) in Norway are currently working to be included in the program. To further enhance the educational benefits and cooperation between students in the two countries a student satellite program – CaNoSat will be developed to run in parallel and coordinated with the sounding rocket activities. Funding for the necessary student activities like travel and subsistence will be covered by CaNoRock STEP (funded by SIU 2012-2016).

CaNoRock action!


As a follow-up to the 2008 Transatlantic Science Week at the Canadian Museum of Civiliza-tion in Ottawa, Canada, two workshops were organized in March 2009. The first was held in Saskatoon and the second in Calgary. During those workshops representatives from the Cana-dian universities of Saskatchewan, Alberta and Calgary, the Norwegian universities of Oslo and Tromsø and Andøya Space Center, former Andøya Rocket Range agreed on outlining a proposed 10 year student sounding rocket program with the intermediate name – CaNoRock. Norway and Canada share many of the same challenges in space exploration. Both countries are members of ESA, and both countries have recently recognized that more capacity in space instrumentation must be built, even to merely maintain their current activity level.  Student rocket activities serve as a magnet to attract students to space related education.

The main parts of the proposed program comprise annual student sounding rockets from Andøya Space Center in Norway and a smaller number of scientific sounding rockets. The scientific rockets will provide research opportunities for active scientists and post-graduate students from Canada, Norway and other countries. All of the rockets will provide training for students from these countries in campaign preparations, launch criteria decisions, payload integration and data analysis. The proposed program will include university studies in physics, engineering and electronics as well as “hands on” instrument development, payload building and sounding rocket launches.


The following universities and institutions are presently partners in the CaNoRock program:


logo-ascAndøya Space Center (ASC), Norway

Andøya Space Center (ASC), formerly known as Andøya Rocket Range is a limited, ISO 9001:2000 certified company owned 90% by the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry, and 10% by Kongsberg Defence Systems. ASC supports sounding rocket and balloon operations both from Andøya and Svalbard. The client list includes ESA, NASA, JAXA as well as hundreds of universities and research institutions worldwide. ASC is located on the Norwegian island Andøya, 2 degrees north of the Arctic Circle. Andøya has its own airport capable of handling all sizes of aircrafts. Several daily connections to Oslo makes it convenient getting to and from the island.

ASC has been in operation since 1962, and more than 1000 sounding rockets have been launched by the range over these years. Due to several launchers on site, sounding rockets of all known configurations may even be launched in salvoes. Our location on the west coast of Northern Norway gives us huge impact areas in the Norwegian Sea and on the Arctic ice sheet north of Svalbard. Payload recovery from the sea is possible and has been performed since 1991.


SvalRak is located at Ny-Ålesund, Spitzbergen at Svalbard. It was established in 1997 and can launch sounding rockets weighing up to 4.000 kg. In spite of the high latitude, the climate is mild, because of the warm Atlantic water and mild air from the lower latitudes that sweep the coast. There are daily flights from the Norwegian mainland to Svalbard. The location of Svalbard gives favorable trajectories for launching sounding rockets along and perpendicular to the Earth’s magnetic field lines in the polar cap and cusp. Near winter solstice Svalbard is situated in complete darkness all day, facilitating studies of daytime auroras.

Payload Services

ASC has developed a reliable and cost-effective Sounding Rocket Payload Service, aimed at scientific research in the middle atmosphere and ionosphere. ASC offers a complete service including payload structure, housekeeping systems, qualification program, rocket motors and launch services, all at a fixed price.

ALOMAR Observatory

ALOMAR (380 m asl) is a modern facility where scientific groups from several nations are engaged in atmospheric research using lidars and radars as well as passive instruments such as radiometers and spectrometers. The ALOMAR instrumentation covers all atmospheric layers from the troposphere to the lower thermosphere, as well as instruments observing physical parameters in the ionosphere, magnetosphere and aurora borealis. ALOMAR is thus an advanced and very versatile Arctic atmosphere observatory.

Long Duration Balloons

Safe, energy-efficient and cost-effective long duration balloons are perfect platforms for both astronomical and atmospheric observations. In co-operation with the Italian Space Agency, ASC has established the Nobile Amundsen Svalbard Balloon Center in Longyearbyen, Svalbard. From this location, balloons can exploit the stratospheric winds to circumnavigate the North Pole and possibly stay aloft for weeks – cheaper than a satellite mission and also providing in-situ measurements.


logo-naromNAROM (Norwegian Centre for Space-related Education)

Partly supported by the Norwegian Government – was formed in 2000 to organize space education and ensure recruiting, promote appreciation for the benefits of space activities, and to stimulate the interest for science in general. NAROM is co-located with Andøya Space Center, and initiates, develops, and performs educational activities, courses and seminars at all levels of education within subject areas related to space, such as space technology, space physics, atmospheric and environmental research. The level of NAROM’s education program spans from compulsory primary and secondary school to graduate university students, and annually more than 2 500 students and teachers participate in NAROM activities. An example of the activity is the annual European Space Camp. This is a week-long summer camp for young scientists (age 17-20) at ASC. The Space Camp is organized by the Norwegian Association of Young Scientists and the NAROM in cooperation with the Norwegian Space Centre and the European Space Agency (ESA).

NAROM also concentrates on being an important contributor in the provision of electronic educational resources within space-related education. NAROM is in charge of the Norwegian student satellite program as well as an important link between the Norwegian space-related industry and the educational system.


The University of Oslo, Norway

University of Oslo is Norway’s largest and oldest institution of higher education. It was founded in 1811 when Norway was still under Danish rule. Today the University of Oslo has approx. 30,000 students and 4,600 employees. Four Nobel Prize winners indicate the quality of the research at the University.

University of Oslo has been active in instrumentation of sounding rockets since 1962, and these activities formed the basis for participating in ESA cornerstone missions like Cluster, Rosetta and BepiColombo. Oslo has specialized on devices for electron density and E-field space measurements.  The scientific core during the past couple of decades is investigation of the auroral cusp and polar cap ionosphere dynamics by multi-instrument techniques. Oslo has been part of the daytime auroral observation program in Svalbard since 1978, where the main contribution on the instrument side is all-sky imager and scanning photometer systems.

UiO is now in charge of the ICI-series of sounding rockets for exploration of instabilities and turbu-lence phenomena in the auroral cusp above Svalbard. The Space Technology And Research development center (STAR), which is a strategic initiative by the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences of the University of Oslo, has been formed to meet future challenges in space exploration. It combines expertise from plasma theory, space physics, electronics, micro- and nanotechnology. The main aim of STAR is to achieve full scale integrated collaboration between space plasma experimentalists, theoreticians and numerical specialists in order to implement the next generation instruments. With the rocket program, STAR aims to be at the forefront of multi-point in-situ measurements of kinetic scale plasma processes, to explore waves, instabilities and turbulence phenomena that apply to the solar effects on space weather and climate on Earth.


The University of Tromsø, Norway

The University of Tromsø is the northernmost university of the world. Our location on the edge of the Arctic implies a mission. The Arctic region is of increasing global importance. Climate change, the exploitation of Arctic resources and environmental threats are topics of great public concern, which UiT takes special interest in. Studying and working at UiT allows you to explore global issues from a close-up perspective.

UiT, established in 1968, is one of the youngest of Norway’s six universities and has 9000 students and 2400 staff. Foreign citizens comprise around 10 percent of the total number of students and academic staff. The University and its six faculties hold more than 200 agreements with partner universities worldwide.  The University of Tromsø offers around 100 programs of study within a variety of academic subjects ranging from medicine, law and science to economics, psychology, social science, fishery science and the humanities. More than 20 international Master´s degree programs and a variety of courses taught in English offer international students interesting study options.

The strategy of the University of Tromsø gives priority to research in the fields of marine science, biomedicine, telemedicine, physics, linguistics, multiculturalism, and research related to Saami and indigenous people. University of Tromsø has participated in rocket experiments since 1993.  They have specialized in building dust probes such as the DUSTY probe which in 1994 was the first probe to detect charged dust in the mesosphere.  University of Tromsø also built the first successful miniaturized but fully instrumented payload, the MiniDusty payload, which was launched on a high G (ca 150 G) motor.  They have constructed other dust probes to study the structure of the icy mesospheric noctilucent cloud dust particles (the MUDD detectors) and the chemical content of them (the ICON mass spectrometer).  This is all part of a program, including a large variety of groundbased instrumentation (radars, artificial heating of electron gas, lidars) to study the Earth’s mesosphere and in particular its cloud phenomena.  One large rocket payload, the MaxiDusty-1 will be launched in July 2013 and it is planned to be the first in a series of mesospheric MaxiDusty payloads.


The University of Bergen, Norway

The University of Bergen is a young, modern university. Most of its premises are concentrated in the heart of the city of Bergen. There are about 14,500 students’ enrolled and 3,200 faculty and staff.

The University’s academic landscape is characterized by its great variety and breadth. Six faculties cover most of the traditional university disciplines. Within the faculties are included 60 different specialized departments, centers and institutes. There are also an increasing number of multi-disciplinary research centers, projects and units. International students are offered master-level and doctoral training at the University of Bergen. The University of Bergen is constantly interfacing with the international environment in order to expand its borders and to explore the world. It is heavily involved in international co-operation in research and education. The university has signed bilateral agreements with universities, research institutions and academic centers of excellence in all parts of the world. UiB is also committed to co-operating with developing countries and has established programs with universities in Third World Countries in the areas of health, poverty, and resource management.

The University is engaged in the European Union’s Framework programs for research and technological development and has been designated as a European Research Infrastructure and a Research Training Site in several scientific fields.


The University Centre in Svalbard, Norway

The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) is the world’s northernmost higher education institution, located at 78º N in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway. It was established in 1993 to provide university level education in Arctic studies, to carry out high quality research, and to contribute to the development of Svalbard as an international research platform. UNIS offers specialist courses at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate level in Arctic Biology, Arctic Geology, Arctic Geophysics and Arctic Technology.

About 350 students from all over the world study at UNIS every year. The student body consists of 50 % Norwegian and 50 % international students. UNIS’ faculty are made up of 50 % Norwegians and 50 % international staff, and consist currently of 8 fulltime professors, 14 associate professors, 9 post-doctoral researchers and 120 guest lecturers, including 27 adjunct professors, who specialize in arctic issues.

UNIS has a long history of space research, specializing in optics and radars.  An auroral observing station has been active on Svalbard since 1978.  The space physics research group currently consists of 2 professors, 1 associate professor, 4 adjunct professors, a post-doctoral researcher and two PhD students. 5 specialist courses relating to ionospheric and middle atmospheric processes are taught at UNIS with students coming from around the world to attend them. The students attending these courses get unique opportunities to gain hands on experience with a wide range of optical and radar instrumentation.

In 2008, a brand new observing station, the Kjell Henriksen Observatory, was opened by the Norwegian Minister of Education and Research. Here, 21 optical and 6 radio instruments are employed for research into the middle- and upper atmosphere by researcher from 18 institutions from 9 different countries. In addition UNIS owns and operates a high power ionospheric heating system, one of only 6 in the world, which is used to conduct experiments into plasma processes in the high latitude ionosphere. There are also two ionospheric radar systems located just outside Longyearbyen: the EISCAT Svalbard radar and the SOUSY radar.

UNIS also has a long history of collaboration with all the Norwegian Universities in this proposal through both rocket campaigns (such as the ICI sounding rockets), student collaborations and other focused research projects.


The University of Saskatchewan, Canada

The University of Saskatchewan was established in 1907 and has 25 000 students and 7000 faculty and staff, and it has a long tradition of ionospheric and space science research.   The Institute of Upper Atmospheric Physics was founded in 1956 and it has expanded its areas of research interest and was renamed the Institute of Space and Atmospheric Studies to reflect the new research diversity in the Institute.  An important research focus early on at the Institute was the design and construction of rocket payloads.  When the NRC in Ottawa, the headquarters of the Canadian rocket program, decided to spin-off their rocket instrumentation activities, the Institute, along with collaborators from the College of Engineering, formed a Space Engineering Division. SED built and launched more than 65 rocket payloads between 1965 and 1989.  SED was also a specialist in ground control systems for Canada’s first Communications Technology Satellite. The Space Engineering Division subsequently became private corporation and changed its name to SED Systems.  Since that time a number of spinoff companies, such as SIL, emerged from SED to give Saskatoon the early reputation of being a “science city.”

Present day ISAS research extends from stratosphere to interplanetary space, and researchers employ both ground-based and space-based instruments.  Current ISAS instruments include radars (SuperDARN HF, VHF, FMCW, MF), and the Odin-OSIRIS satellite instrument.  ISAS exists in a combined Department of Physics & Engineering Physics, where Engineering Physics is the dominant undergraduate program. The University is very interested in student exchange opportunities, and evidence for support for space science exchange has already been demonstrated.  For example, the University has helped to send an undergraduate Engineering Physics student to the University of Tromso for a space science exchange in the autumn term of 2009.


The University of Alberta, Canada

The University of Alberta, formed in 1908, is widely regarded as one of Canada’s foremost teaching and research institutions. With an enrollment of over 36,000 students, over 3,600 faculty and over 6,700 support and technical staff, it is amongst the five largest Universities in Canada.  The Universities Professoriate have won more 3M Teaching Fellowships, the top Canadian awards for Teaching Excellence, than any other institution in Canada.

The University of Alberta has a long history of excellence in ground- and space-based space physics, solar-terrestrial, and auroral science. Formerly the PI institute of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) funded CANOPUS (Canadian Network for the OPEN program of Unified study) program, which resulted in more than 1000 scientific publications, and now as the core magnetometry and space-simulation and modeling centers for the CSA flagship Canadian Geospace Monitoring (CGSM) program, the University of Alberta enjoys an international reputation in space science including international partnerships with NASA and ESA. Recent developments have included proposals to fly instrumentation on high altitude balloons in collaboration with NASA and NSF, on sounding rockets, and on satellites such TellTale on the Phoenix Mars Lander, and three instruments for the ORBITALS satellite mission which is also lead from the UofA. A newly formed Institute for Space Science Exploration and Technology (ISSET) brings together experts in science and engineering from 6 Departments across two faculties for the development of space instrumentation, encompassing strengths in space magnetometry, high energy particles, atmospheric weather, remote-sensing and spectrometry.


The University of Calgary, Canada

The University of Calgary, founded in 1966, is ranked as one of Canada’s top seven research universities. The University is young, vibrant and growing, currently with more than 27,600 students and 2,760 academic staff.

The space research group has been active for over forty years, beginning with a series of sounding rocket and balloon experiments and followed by the development of a scanning photometer for the ISIS-II satellite that in 1972 generated the first global-scale images of the aurora from space, and led to the discovery of the diffuse aurora.  In subsequent years the U of C has provided UV auroral imagers for the Swedish Viking and Freja auroral research satellites, the Russian Interball satellite, and key elements of the NASA IMAGE satellite’s UV imager.   The group is also home to the scientific leadership of the THEMIS-Canada and Canadian GeoSpace Monitoring ground-based optical and radio instrument ARRays stationed across the Canadian Arctic, and of the new Canadian component of the Resolute Incoherent Scatter Radar being built in the high arctic.  In 1995 the U of C added a new research thrust in the area of space-based low-energy charged particle detection; this activity has included a half-dozen sounding rocket experiments in collaboration with the U.S., Japan and Norway.

The U of C is the lead scientific institute for the enhanced Polar Outflow Probe small satellite that will be launched in 2011, and for the Canadian Electric Field Instruments that will fly on the European Space Agency’s three Swarm satellites designed to study the Earth’s geomagnetic and electric field environments from 2011-2015. The Swarm mission will go from 2012-2016 while the ePOP project is now scheduled for launch in late 2012. In 2008, the space physics group joined forces with radio and infrared astronomers and engineers to form the new  3-university-wide Institute for Space Imaging Science that includes more than sixty members.


CaNoRock and the proposed CaNoSat program are aimed to serve as a basis for a 10 year bilateral student sounding rocket and satellite program between Canada and Norway. Here it is vital to motivate students to join space activities and acquire enhanced knowledge in physics, engineering and electronics for sounding rockets, CubeSat’s and stratospheric balloons. The program may also include working with other scientific platforms such as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) currently being developed at ASC. The universities of Oslo, Alberta, Calgary and Saskatchewan have common research interests in atmospheric, auroral and magnetospheric physics. Each institution specializes in different experiment types, and in collaboration we can produce even more advanced scientific rocket and satellite payloads.


Way forward

Establish student exchange programs – in physics, electronics and engineering

In 2007 UiO and UiT had already established a one week intensive student rocket course at Andoya Space Center (UiO FYS2280; UiT FYS3000) which had proved to be a talent magnet for students attracting them to pursue further specialist education, and ultimately careers, in space science and engineering.  In order to test the market potential for internationalization of the student rocket course we received funding from Center for Internationalisation of Higher Education in Norway (SiU) to offer four Canadian places on the rocket course in November 2009.  With around fifty applicants from Canada this was a great success and CaNoRock 1was launched. With proper funding from the Canadian Space Agency and the Norwegian Space Centre we started the first 3 years of sounding rocket program in January 2011. At every course we mix 11 Canadian students and 10 Norwegians students, and we have two courses per year, which means an offer to 42 students per year in this program, and we are continuously developing/improving the curriculum. This activity is aimed for bachelor students and serves as an important recruitment platform for the more ambitious CaNoRock project that will expand to include exchanges of MSc and PhD students as well .

Let us mention an example of how the stundent rocket course made the basis for a stundet satellite project at University of Oslo : The University of Oslo signed a contract with NAROM/ASC in December 2008 to build the CubeSTAR student satellite ( Within one month 35 students signaled their interest to participate in this project, at bachelor, master and PhD levels. It is unusual that so many students are interested in space instrumentation, and this interest was most likely generated as a direct result of the bachelor level Student rocket field course. CaNoRock has already demonstrated that the same recipe works to boost the student exchange with Canada, in both technology studies and in space physics.

The University of Oslo has student exchange agreements with all the three Canadian universities (attached), UiT has established with UoS, and UiB with UoA and UoS. These exchange programs will continue to be developed between participating universities as CaNoRock and CaNoSat evolves in complexity.We therefore believe that we can contribute in a very positive way towards increasing the student flow between our two countries.


Practical participation in instrument building and payload integration

These activities will have to take place both at the involved universities and at operational sites like Andøya Space Center in Norway. At ASC sounding rocket payloads have been developed and assembled, both for smaller student rockets and bigger configurations such as HotPay-2 (single-stage in 2008), ICI-2 (two-stage in 2009) and ICI-3 (two-stage in 2011).


Student workshops in Canada and Norway

Organizing annual workshops is the best and most efficient tool to enable the students to meet and discuss their results and experiences, get new ideas and to improve the exchange program. This is the way things are done in the regular science community. Two countries are involved; hence the venue for the workshops should alternate between Norway and Canada throughout the program. The workshops will be outlined and planned in cooperation with the participating universities and companies. Workshop proceedings will be produced.. The workshops will also function as arenas for learning since they typically demand the following of the participants: Time management, studies, stress management, preparations, making presentations and contributing to meaningful discussions.


CaNoRock STEP (PhD school)

The main objective of CaNoRock STEP is to establish opportunities for collaborative, research-led active training and education that build on the educational content of CaNoRock, and which enable graduate-level students to take part in joint Norway-Canada space research projects. CaNoRock STEP was in 2012 funded with NOK 2 mill based on a joint application by UiO, UiB, UiT, UNIS, UofC, UofS and UofA to the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SIU) which is a public Norwegian agency promoting international cooperation in education and research.

CaNoRock STEP on Facebook:

  1. CaNoRock PhD school No1:
    Arranged at the University of Calgary Barrier Lake Field Station, Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada, 5 – 15 November 2013.
  2. CaNoRock PhD school No2:
    Arranged at Andøya Space Center, Norway, 20 July – 1 August 2014
  3. CaNoRock PhD school No3 in 2015.
  4. CaNoRock PhD school No4 in 2016

Program Outline

  • Scientifically driven student rocket and satellite program based on exchange of students in physics, engineering and electronics between the participating universities in Norway and Canada


  • CaNoRock     2011 – 2021
  • CaNoSat        2013-2021
  • CaNoRock STEP       2012 – 2016

Student exchange periods in Norway to include practical instrument/payload work at Andøya Space Center (sounding rocket, balloon and UAS).

2 annual student sounding rockets launched from Andøya Space Center in Norway:

Download the PDF for info about all CaNoRock rockets from 1 to 13 (2016)

Download the PDF for info about all CaNoRock rockets from 1 (2009) to 13 (2016).

A total of 275 students from Norway, Canada, Switzerland and France has been at ASC as part of CaNoRock since 2009. 199 boys and 76 Girls!


2 mesosphere sounding rockets launched from Andøya Space Center:

  • Master, PhD level
  • 120km apogee
    • CaNoRock /CaNoSat / MAXI DUSTY I (UiT, Andøya Jul 2013)
    • CaNoRock / MAXI DUSTY 2 (Proposed UiT, Andøya Feb 2014)
    • Proposed Canadian funded rocket (2014/2015)

3 ionosphere sounding rockets:

  • Master, PhD level
  • Launched from Andøya Space Center (Andøya or Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard)
  • 350km apogee
    • CaNoRock / ICI-4 (UiO, Ny-Ålesund Nov 2013)
    • CaNoRock/CaNoSat ?? / ICI-5 (Proposed UiO, Ny-Ålesund  2015/2016)
    • Proposed Canadian funded rocket (2017/2018)

2 CubeSat-format daughter payloads in 2013:

  • Daughter payloads to UiT MAXIDUSTY I
  • 1 to be built by Canadian students under guidance by UiO, Norway
  • 1 to be built by Norwegian students at UiO/UiB/UiT
  • Both cubes are funded by UiO
  • Travel and subsistence to be covered by CaNoRock STEP.

3 CubeSat-format daughter payloads  in 2015:

  • “Daughter payloads” for UiO ICI-5 (if funded)
  • Travel and subsistence to be covered by CaNoRock STEP.
  • 3U CubeSat in 2017 (if funded):

Scientific 3U CubeSat:

  • Launch from ASC (satellite launch facility under investigation)


– Missions will be led by active scientists from Norway and Canada. The same scientists will tutor the students during the whole program, both in the universities and during field trips to Andøya Space Center.

– Missions must include student opportunities and shall keep student education as one of the prime objectives.

– Student opportunities (piggy-back) on UAS flights and Long Duration Balloons will also be provided when available.


International Space Science Degree:

  • To ensure the best possible outcome of the CaNoRock program for participating students, the CaNoRock team will propose a new science degree, or a diploma for qualifying students. This honor will be provided to the “top notch” students taking part in the program. How this can be accomplished and organized between the 6 universities is still being discussed and is not established at this point in time.


CaNoRock & CaNoSat Launch Plan

CaNoRock CaNosat launch plan (click for full view)