UCalgary to build instrumentation for the RADICALS mission

August 4th, 2021

RADICALS Proposal Design - Artist Rendition

Artist rendition of the proposed RADICAL Satellite.

Provided by Dr. Chris Cully

UCalgary to build an x-ray imager for the RADICALS mission. The x-ray imager project is lead by Dr. Chris Cully and is in collaboration with the University of Colorado and the University of Washington.


Liana Goodman


Chris Cully, May Chan

First proposed in 2019, the Radiation Impact on Climate and Atmospheric Loss Satellite (RADICALS) mission is a collaboration between many canadian universities. Instrumentation is a collaboration between the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary. The body of the satellite is built by the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS). The University of Saskatchewan and Athabasca University are also partners on the project. Funded primarily by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the mission aims to understand the energetic particles in the upper atmosphere to see how they affect climate and our atmosphere. As well as the CFI, the project is supported by the Government of Alberta and the Canadian Space Agency.

Led by the University of Alberta, this micro-satellite will be approximately 50-60kg large. The bus will be constructed by UTAIS, who are very familiar with building satellite busses. The instrumentation for the satellite will be developed by UAlberta and UCalgary. The mission will host 3 instruments: particle detectors, magnetometers, and x-ray imagers.

Particle Detectors

Developed by the University of Alberta, the particle detectors will be looking at electrons and ions in an energy range between keV and MeV.


Also developed by the University of Alberta, the magnetometers will be observing the magnetic fields and their effects on particles.

X-Ray Imagers

Developed by the University of Calgary, the x-ray imager will measure x-rays generated when the energetic particles strike the atmosphere. These measurements will be used to map where the particles are hitting earth.

Currently being modified for the mission at hand, the x-ray imager is based on a prototype by the instrument PI, Dr. Chris Cully. This prototype was originally designed for balloon launch in 2017. Since then, the design has been passed to the University of Colorado for use in a CubeSat.

This most recent version of the imager will likely be designed in collaboration with the University of Colorado.

This $20.3 million mission will be launched in 2026 for a sun-synchronous launch at about 500-1000 km altitude after which the University of Calgary will host mission operations. After that, the team of researchers can begin to gather data and explore their results.