Dec. 5, 2017

Canadian, Norwegian universities commit to 10 years of collaboration in space education, research

'As Arctic countries, we share a special bond'
The most recent Canadian contingent for the CanNoRock program included students from UCalgary, the University of Alberta, and the University of Saskatchewan.

The most recent Canadian contingent for the CanNoRock program.

Cindy Graham on Twitter

We’re northern neighbours — and now Canada and Norway have joined forces to help the next generation of researchers explore the mystery and wonder of space from a shared perspective.

The University of Calgary and the University of Oslo have been working together since 2009 to give students hands-on opportunities to get involved in space research and discovery, including through the Canada-Norway Sounding Rocket (CanNoRock) program launched in 2011. In October, the two universities signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) announcing their joint commitment to continue developing international joint mission-based programs for the next 10 years that will include joint curriculum and research opportunities for graduate-level students on prioritized rocket and satellite projects in Norway and Canada.

Joint learning and research initiatives present exciting new opportunities

The popular CanNoRock program — which has had close to 300 participants since its inception — is a one-week intensive course at Andøya Space Center designed to give undergraduate students in Norway and Canada the opportunity to participate in hands-on training for the space industry. Over the course of a week, the students work together to design, construct and launch sounding rockets.

The CaNoRock program is a collaboration between the University of Calgary, the University of Alberta, the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, the European Space Agency, the Canadian Space Agency with a number of universities in Norway, including the University of Oslo. Since the program started, there has been enormous collaboration between researchers at the various institutions. They have since created a CaNoRock — STEP program, sponsored by the Norwegian Space Centre and the Canadian Space Agency, where graduate students participate in an exchange program.

Building on the success of these programs, the collaboration will expand into research utilization nanosatellites, specifically cube satellites, with the introduction of the Canada-Norway Satellite (CaNoSat) training and research program.

Cindy Graham, right, is pictured with UCalgary CanNoRock participants, from left: Cody Sogge, Tiana Trumpour, and Cole Lord-May at the Andoya Space Centre on Oct. 19, 2017.

UCalgary CanNoRock participants: Cody Sogge, Tiana Trumpour, Cole Lord-May and Cindy Graham.

Cindy Graham on Twitter

With the signing of the MoU, 14 signatories from Norway and Canada will partner to create the CaNoSat program and will work specifically on a mission-based joint international space master's degree between the University of Oslo and the University of Calgary. Students will work in teams over two years to build, launch and monitor a satellite that investigates an aspect of the northern environment. The programs will providing graduate-level students with valuable experience working directly with industry experts from both Canada and Norway, and will also offer internship and academic training with a half-year exchange component.

“The CaNoRock and CaNoSat programs are the best examples I have ever seen of how international partnerships build lasting and fruitful relationships that have real, tangible outcomes for students and society,” says Cindy Graham, vice-dean in the Faculty of Science. “It is an amazing partnership that is the standard by which we should measure all others.”

“We are especially appreciative of the support and encouragement we have received from the Canadian Space Agency, and for the incredibly powerful dynamic of partners working together for a common goal. We could not do any of this without the support of the many universities in Norway and the three space agencies.”

Canadian and Norwegian collaborators for developing the new programs include the University of Calgary, the University of Saskatchewan, UOslo, UBergen, UTromsø, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, University Centre in Svalbard, EIDEL, Andøya Space Centre, and the Norwegian Centre for Space-related Education.

“As Arctic countries, we share a special bond,” Graham says. “Our values, research and education all come together in this program. The powerful relationship that has grown has allowed us to do world-class research in space physics together within a collaboration that includes undergraduates, graduate, postdocs and researchers that is second to none. We are able to achieve more together than we ever would on our own.”

Those interested in learning more about the CanNoSat and CanNoRock programs should contact Heather Clitheroe, international co-ordinator for the Faculty of Science, at