Gordon Osinski has spent the past 20 years examining craters left by meteorites.
Analyzing planetary geology has led this University of Ontario professor to travel the world. His skills have also led him to now be part of a NASA team that will develop the scientific program to study the surface of the Moon, when humans walk there for the first time in more than 50 years.
Professor Osinski is the only Canadian to join NASA’s recently announced “geological team” for the Artemis III mission – the team that plans to land and walk on the moon. Experts will plan the scientific missions that will be carried out by astronauts who are expected to land near the south pole of the moon as early as December 2025.
“Honestly, it still seems a little surreal,” Osinski, a professor of geosciences at Western University, admitted in a phone interview. And it’s still seeping into my head. »
NASA is planning several Artemis missions, which will return humans to the Moon and further explore the lunar surface with the aim of using these findings in a potential mission to Mars.
The Artemis II mission – featuring Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen – will send a four-person crew into space as early as November next year to perform a flyby maneuver over the far side of the moon. This will be the first time a human has ventured this far from Earth.
Understanding planetary processes
The Artemis III mission will be the first manned mission to land on the Moon’s south pole — and the first lunar landing since Apollo 17 in 1972.
The team of geologists, to which Professor Osinski belongs, will plan scientific missions for the astronauts during their walk on the Moon. In particular, the astronauts will collect samples, images and scientific measurements from the moon. NASA said that the samples and data collected will help deepen understanding of basic planetary processes.
The professor in Ontario confirmed that “Artemis 3 will land in the Antarctic region, where there are many craters.” NASA has not yet announced the exact landing spot, so at that time we will be working a lot on all the available satellite images to plan the locations that the astronauts will visit, I hope. »
Mr. Osinski is also the science director for the first mission of the Canadian-built lunar rover, which is supposed to orbit the surface of the South Pole in 2026.
Mr. Osinski, 47, grew up in the United Kingdom and moved to Canada in 1999. He began teaching at Western University in London in 2007. Although he has always been interested in science in general, he describes his deep interest in space as a “late career.”
He says it was only after moving to Canada and working with NASA and the Canadian Space Agency that he developed a real passion for space exploration. “Since then, it has expanded and magnified.”
“There are currently more Canadian scientists, engineers and other professionals involved in various missions, not just with NASA, but with various space agencies around the world, and on Canadian space missions than in any other era,” the geologist asserts.
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