It isn't very often that Canadians get a chance to celebrate a Canadian space experiment. Maybe it is a lack of science funding, or the smaller population compared with our southern neighbours, or maybe we are just too content to join in with other projects at the expense of our own. In any case, the day before Canada Day we get the chance to celebrate a full decade of data from the MOST experiment.

The Microvariability and Oscillation of STars (MOST) was launched on June 30, 2003 as part of  the Canadian Space Agency's Small Payloads Program and represents Canada's first space science microsatellite and Canada's first space telescope.

The goals of this experiment were to measure light intensity oscillations in stars that are similar to our own, to
determine the age of nearby sub-dwarf stars (which also implies a lower limit on the age of the Universe) and to detect light reflected from exoplanets. This last task is especially exciting, as the spectrum of the reflected light can then be analyzed to determine the chemical composition of the planets and their atmospheres.

MOST is the first instrument in history capable of detecting such signals, and the first to provide direct data about the atmospheres of planets outside of our own solar system. The oscillations of the parent stars  can also be used to determine the age of the stellar systems, giving us new information on how stars and planets form. And all of this amazing scientific discovery is the result of Canadian science!

Happy Canada Day!!