Before stepping out the door this morning you checked the weather forecast on your mobile phone. Would you need a coat and an umbrella? On your way to work you stop off at the Tim Horton’s for a strong cup of coffee. Short on cash, you pay with your bank card. Back in the car, you listen to the latest hurricane tracking report on Sirius XM. The storm on the east coast has been upgraded to a Category 5. Search and rescue teams have been deployed to assist the affected communities.
Just as the weather forecast predicted, it starts to rain. The roads are wet and slippery. Traffic is heavy, and you will be late for work. You make the uncomfortable call to your workplace letting them know that you are delayed and will be late for a scheduled morning meeting. Thank goodness for Waze and Google Maps to give you an alternate route. You arrive at the meeting just in time to see your boss discussing the report you were up late preparing the night before. You breathe a sigh of relief. Luckily you emailed the report to the overseas team ahead of time.
Practically every aspect of the above scenario used satellite resources.
Even though they’re in orbit hundreds or even thousands of kilometres above us, satellites are part of our everyday lives, whether we know it or not. For several decades, satellites have taken pictures of Earth, sending back images, even in the film format back in the early days. They have also studied our universe, provided a Global Positioning System network, made Satellite phones, television, and Internet possible, through remote access and their unique quality of providing highly accurate time-keeping.
What would happen if all the satellites stopped working? This BBC article explains how the world would be a very different place. Communications, transport, power and computer systems would be severely disrupted. Global business would ground to a halt and food supply chains would eventually break down.
It is a truly a tribute to the space industry that we can take many parts of our day-to-day lives, that are enabled by satellites, for granted.
Clearly, space matters.
Excerpt adapted from soon to be released Canadian Association of Science Centres activity kit* for educators in informal and formal learning environments.
Educator’s activity Kit: Imagining a day without satellites. The Canadian Association of Science Centres, through the support of a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada PromoScience grant, and in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency will soon be releasing an activity kit for educators in science centres and in schools. Inspired by exploring the topic of a “day without satellites” the kit will include a planetarium show script, conversation starters and short demos, and a school visit/classroom program, co-produced with the Ontario Science Centre. With the upcoming launch of the Canadian RADARSAT Constellation Mission, in February 2019, this kit will be timely in helping to discuss the value of satellites in our daily lives. The kit will be available on the Canadian Association of Science Centres website (www.canadiansciencecentres.ca) in English and French, and will also be available on the Space Matters website.”