CaNoRock helps students gain space-rocket experience

By in Opinions

The Canada-Norway Sounding Rocket student exchange program is a yearly program in which select students from universities in Canada and Norway spend a week at the Andøya Space Center in order to gain hands-on experience working with scientific rocket design.

The purpose is to get students engaged in space physics and atmospheric science. During the program, students work together to build a sounding rocket, which is a rocket that does not leave the atmosphere but instead collects data as it travels.

CaNoRock is an undergraduate program for students from the University of Saskatchewan — where it is counted as a three-credit course — as well as the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary and numerous academic institutions in Norway, such as the University of Oslo. Twenty- two students in total participated in the program this year, including four students from the U of S — Connor Schentag, Liam Graham, Liam Gray and Simone Hagey.

Hagey, a third-year physics student with a specialization in astronomy, says she found the nine-day experience that took place in October valuable, because she believes there are not very many opportunities like this for students at the U of S.

“It was really inspiring — we don’t have very many opportunities to get involved in that kind of science here in Saskatchewan,” Hagey said. “We don’t have a rocket range where you can go [to] watch rockets, so it’s really cool for us to have [the] opportunity to go there.”

Hagey hopes to work in instrumental astrophysics when she finishes university, and she thinks that her experience at CaNoRock has given her the chance to see what it would be like to work in the field.

“It’s really inspiring for me, because I always wanted to be in this field, but I never knew if it was actually something I could do,” Hagey said. “I always wanted to be involved in space missions but never really thought it would be possible, and then this trip made me realize how many different aspects there are to these kinds of missions.”

The Andøya Space Center, which is located in northern Norway, builds and launches sounding rockets while also creating a myriad of groundbased scientific instruments for international clients. This is a large space centre and an important place for scientific rocket design — and for space physics in general.

Hagey thinks that it is especially beneficial for students to get involved in programs like CaNoRock, because these initiatives will positively contribute to their university experiences.

“I’m in this kind of field, because I’m a curious person and I want to know more about how the world works, and this is an exciting way for me to do that. So, it’s important for people to get involved in these things, because expanding the frontier of what we know is important,” Hagey said.

Programs like these are integral to a student’s university experience — the more opportunities like this that they have, the more confident they will feel entering into their career and the more people they will be able to network with. With access to experiences like CaNoRock, students can learn in different environments and receive a more well-rounded education. That’s what university is about, after all.

Lyndsay Afseth / Staff Writer

Graphic: Jaymie Stachyruk