Canadian Space Agency honours York’s Gordon Shepherd

The Canadian Space Program has recognized the pioneering work carried out by Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus Gordon G. Shepherd (left).

Shepherd, director of York’s Centre for Research on Earth & Space Science (CRESS), was given the prestigious John H. Chapman Award of Excellence by Marc Garneau, president of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

The award was bestowed in recognition of Shepherd’s exceptional contribution to the Canadian Space Program. His ground-breaking work and leadership was praised during a celebration held at the CSA yesterday in Saint-Hubert, Que.


“We are delighted that Gordon Shepherd has won this prestigious award,” said Gillian Wu (right), dean of York’s Faculty of Pure & Applied Science. “And congratulations to the faculty and administration that had the forethought to support Professor Shepherd and the space research program at York for the past 30 years.

“Professor Shepherd is acknowledged as a leader in space research in Canada and beyond,” Wu continued. “This award recognizes his accomplishments and his influence in the field. The John H. Chapman medal coming as it does right after the Mars lander project award by NASA – the Phoenix Program – demonstrates to all the strength and depth of space research at York in the Faculty of Pure & Applied Science.”

“We are all proud of the accomplishments of Canadians in space,” said Allan Rock (left), minister of industry and minister responsible for the CSA. “It is through the exceptional work of scientists like Dr. Shepherd that the Canadian Space Program remains on the cutting edge of innovation.”


Marc Garneau (right) added, “The selection of Dr. Shepherd as the fourth recipient of the award is testament to his lifelong dedication to space science research and development in Canada. He is a true role model for the next generation of Canadian atmospheric physicists and space scientists.”


Shepherd has worked for the Canadian space community for the past 40 years and has played key roles in the atmospheric sciences, championing the ISIS program, WINDII: the Wind Imaging Interferometer (left), and SWIFT: the Stratospheric Wind Interferometer For Transport (above, right). 

He is a mentor, a renowned international speaker and has published over 200 scientific papers. As well, Shepherd has pioneered developments of new techniques for instruments and data analysis, contributing to maintain Canada’s pre-eminence in thermospheric physics and positioning the Canadian Space Program abroad.

Left: John H. Chapman

Right: John H. Chapman Award

The recipient of the John H. Chapman Award of Excellence is selected by a committee presided over by the president of the CSA. This award is named after the recognized father of the Canadian Space Program, John Herbert Chapman.

About Gordon G. Shepherd

Gordon G. Shepherd (right) has spent much of his career developing methods of observing the atmosphere remotely from space. Airglow, photochemically produced light in the upper atmosphere, is sensed with interferometric optical instrumentation, and quantities such as wind and temperature are derived. Shepherd is principal investigator for Canada’s WIND Imaging Interferometer on NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, and is author of Spectral Imaging of the Atmosphere, which describes these methods.

A native of Senate, Saskatchewan, Shepherd obtained his BSc and MSc degrees from the University of Saskatchewan and his PhD from the University of Toronto. In 1981, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Named distinguished research professor emeritus of space science at the apogee of his brilliant career, Shepherd now looks with pride at the accomplishments of the generation of students he has trained.

About the CSA

Established in 1989 with its headquarters situated in Saint-Hubert, Quebec, the Canadian Space Agency coordinates all aspects of the Canadian Space Program. Through its Space Knowledge, Applications and Industry Development business line, the CSA delivers services involving: Earth and the Environment; Space Science; Human Presence in Space; Satellite Communications; Space Technology; Space Qualification Services; Space Awareness and Education. .