Canada – and York – are leading the way to Mars

The Canadian Space Agency’s announcement at York of an additional $6 million for a York-led team to complete a weather station for NASA’s next mission to Mars received national television coverage Oct. 27. Stories broadcast nationally on CBC and CTV news featured York space scientists who are heading the Canadian team to develop weather-station instrumentation for the 2007 Phoenix mission, along with high-tech firms MDA and Optech. Both CBC and CTV also posted stories on their Web sites.

On CBC-TV’s “The National” host Peter Mansbridge said Canada is leading the way to Mars. The news item explained that lidar is a key technology on the station that will measure clouds and water vapour, beaming the data back to Earth. “The whole cycle of water through from ice to vapour and back again in the Martian atmosphere will tell us something about the history of water on Mars,” said earth and space scientist Peter Taylor of York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering.

“There is water on Mars,” said Allan Carswell, a professor emeritus at York, who will lead the Canadian research on the Mars mission, reported CBC online. “Since water is necessary as far as we know for any forms of life then the hope is in some basic form there is enough water and Mars could have life.” Professors Diane Michelangeli and Taylor will develop computer models of the planet’s atmosphere for mission plans and operations. “Mars is known to have major dust storms,” said Michelangeli in a release. “The more we learn the better our ability to reduce the risk of problems for any future manned mission to the planet.”

CTV NewsNet highlighted comments by Taylor, who said a remarkable feature of the Mars landscape will be studied. Each spring a significant mass of water-ice sublimates from the polar cap, forming seasonal ice clouds. “Whenever you stand at a telescope you’re looking at strange, new worlds,” he told reporters. “Phoenix is going to be on one of those worlds.” Taylor added that there are questions about where this water-ice ends up and how stable the current ice cap is. Observing these clouds and dust storm features with the Phoenix lidar, he said, will “provide an exciting new insight into these aspects of the climate of Mars.”

“CTV News at 6” in Toronto also interviewed astronomer Paul Delaney, a senior lecturer in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, about the weather station and the Phoenix mission.

Former York running back is spectacular Argo

It’s not a fluke. Jeff Johnson can run and run well, reported The Toronto Sun Oct. 28. The Argos third-string running back, who had 85 rushing yards and a touchdown after replacing the injured Sean Millington in a win over the Montreal Alouettes last week, was spectacular in his first start with Toronto Thursday night. The York University product had 157 yards on eight receptions, 40 yards on six carries and scored two touchdowns as the Argos clinched first in the East with a 34-11 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Thursday night at the Rogers Centre. In the Argos’ dressing room, current York running back Andre Durie, on crutches after a bad knee injury this season, listened to Johnson talking to the media. Johnson said he wants to help pave the way for Durie. “It [a York player making the CFL] doesn’t happen too often but the next one’s right here,” said Johnson, who graduated with a BA in 2002. “This is why I’m playing now and trying to succeed, so when he comes they give him the ball right away. He doesn’t have to go through six years of special teams.”

The Toronto Star also noticed Johnson. It said the York grad showed again that given the opportunity a homebrew can do the job usually assigned to an American import.

A labour of love

“Motherhood may come naturally, but not everyone’s a natural mother,” York undergraduate student Erin Hawkins wrote in an Oct. 28 column in the Toronto Star. After more than 10 years of marriage, “my husband Ken and I finally came around to the idea that it might be time to turn coupledom into a proper family,” she wrote. “Ken’s job as a full-time bookkeeper meant financial stability, but I was in the middle of changing careers from freelance music journalist/retail everywoman to teacher. I had two years left as an undergraduate at York University and still had to go to teacher’s college after that. This would mean one school year pregnant, another juggling books and newborn baby, and a year at teacher’s college with a one-year-old adjusting to daycare. In my mind I could see an endless stream of assignments, bills and guilt piling up.” A photo featured Hawkins reading to her son Duncan Alexander MacInnes in between classes at York.

Career journey starts with assessment

“Only a few weeks into my first term of the MBA program and I was supposed to take a lengthy career assessment test, write a reflection essay based on the tests results and then plan out a career ‘journey map’ for the next two years,” wrote Richard Bloom, a former “Report on Business” reporter, about his experiences as a student at York’s Schulich School of Business, in The Globe and Mail Oct. 28. “It was a frustrating assignment, I thought, because I’m in a different position than so many of my business-school peers. Many are in the program to change careers, but they don’t know what job or industry they would like to work in,” wrote Bloom. “I know what I want, a career in media management, and how I plan to get there, I thought. Wrong. As I began to ponder the results of my career assessment test and map out what the next two years would look like, I began to realize this would be more useful than I had given it credit for.”

Beware two-tier medical care, Osgoode conference told

A two-tier medical system could drive up Canada’s health care costs and destroy its competitive advantage, a spokesperson for the country’s hospitals and health care organizations says, reported the Toronto Star online Oct. 27. The introduction of private health insurance is no solution to the problem of long waiting lists, Sharon Sholzberg-Gray, president of the Canadian Healthcare Association, told a Toronto conference at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School looking at the implications of a landmark Supreme Court of Canada ruling that struck down Quebec’s ban on private health insurance. Many Canadians couldn’t afford or qualify for private insurance and Canada’s publicly funded health system offers a significant competitive advantage to businesses who don’t have to provide medical and drug coverage for their employees, she said.

On air

  • Carol Krause, a student at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, and author of Between Myself And Them, discussed how teenagers cope with problems arising from chronic conditions or disabilities, and answered callers questions on TVO’s “More To Life” Oct. 27.
  • Devon Soltendieck, 2004 winner of the MuchMusic VJ contest, discussed his cross-Canada campus tour, on City-tv’s “Breakfast TV” Oct. 27. His schedule includes a stop at York Nov. 2.