Chalk River company part of moon rover project

Chalk River – As interest in the moon and space exploration intensifies again, a small Ottawa Valley company, Bubble Technology Industries (BTI), will be playing a crucial role in finding water on the moon as part of a Canadian lunar rover project.

“There is a lot of interest in finding water and ice on the moon,” noted Lianne Ing, vice president of BTI.

Water is necessary to sustain life, so any possibility of future human exploration on the moon is tied into this. Finding a water source is key and the technology from BTI will be looking for water on the moon as part of one of the various tasks of the Canadian lunar rover. If water is found and the ability to find water in space is discovered, the possibilities in the future are endless.

“The long-term goal is to send people to Mars,” she noted.

Bubble Tech, which is based in Chalk River, has been involved in scientific experiments in space and space exploration for some time, but this is the first time a part of the company will be landing on the moon.

“It is a rare opportunity where a small company can be involved in something like this,” she added.

This is also a Canadian first, as this is the first Canadian rover which will explore the moon and help in the search for water/ice. Ms. Ing noted Bubble Tech is part of the team that has received a $43 million contract from the federal government to design and build Canada’s first lunar rover, which will carry multiple science payloads to the Moon as early as 2026. The team will be led by Canadensys Aerospace and includes a broad team of Canadian and US partners from industry and academia.

“There are six different instruments on the rover,” she explained. “We will be designing one.”

The rover will be exploring a region of the lunar south pole. Rover operations will be performed in Canada but both American and Canadian scientists will have access to the date from the rover’s scientific payloads.

BTI is responsible for one of the payloads in the form of the Lunar Hydrogen Autonomous Neutron Spectrometer (LHANS). LHANS is an advanced instrument designed to detect hydrogen—one of the best indicators of water/ice on the moon—as well as other key elements, like iron and calcium. The presence of water and other key elements on the moon can make extended human stays on the moon more feasible in the future.

The technology used by BTI draws on the similar technology from BTI which has already been used in space detecting radiation levels.

“We had experiments in orbit at the International Space Station,” she said.

The radiation detectors are important for the safety of astronauts and the new technology on the rover uses many of the same principles.

“It will detect radiation and radiation signatures telling us if there is water or ice present,” she said. “The past dealt with radiation detection. This is a bit different.”

The timeline for the project is quick, with the lunar rover expected to be on the moon in 2026. However, this builds on years of research at BTI.

“The work will leverage almost a decade of innovative research by our team at BTI and we look forward to contributing our expertise to this important mission,” she said.

Now the work begins on this component and the future looks very interesting for BTI and space exploration.

“Hopefully in four years we will be on the moon and collecting data,” she noted.

About Bubble Technology Industries (BTI)

BTI is a dynamic Canadian company with world-renowned expertise in the field of radiation applications. For over 30 years, BTI has combined scientific, engineering, and manufacturing capabilities to provide advanced commercial and defence solutions in the areas of radiation and explosives detection.

BTI’s radiation detection technology has flown on over two dozen space missions and has been used to screen for nuclear threats at high-profile events, including multiple Presidential inaugurations, Papal visits, the Olympics, the Super Bowl, the World Series of Baseball, NASCAR events, G8/G20 Summits, and many other critical venues around the world.

With 50 employees, the company conducts ground-breaking, nuclear-related research and development, yielding numerous patents and scientific publications, while building an extensive network of international research collaborators spanning governmental, industrial and academic partners.

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader