Earth and Space Science and Engineering

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Groundbreaking space science research

Excellence in research is central to Lassonde’s mission and is fundamental to the School’s ability to contribute to the economic, scientific, cultural and social health of our society. Research at York takes place in every discipline and spans the full spectrum of programs from the pure and applied sciences through business, law, and the humanities and social sciences. 

Additionally, the Lassonde School of Engineering and York University have renowned research strengths in areas such as space science, vision science, aboriginal and indigenous studies, history, and psychology. Home to 21 organized research centres, York University has a strong history of collaborative, interdisciplinary and innovative research.

Our commitment to taking focused risks and our passion for innovation stakes a claim to a future that touches almost every facet of the complex issues facing society.

Select an area of research below to find out more.

Our Research Chairs

Michael Daly

Tier 2 York Research Chair in Planetary Science

Michael Daly is a world-leading planetary scientist who has provided outstanding contributions to space-flight instrumentation which answer major questions of planetary science. He is the lead instrument scientist of the laser altimeter (OLA) instrument on the OSIRIS-REx mission which was the first ever NASA mission to extract a sample from an asteroid and return it to Earth. He was the chief engineer on Canadian instruments, LIDAR and pressure/temperature, which were crucial to the success of the NASA Phoenix mission to Mars which studied the history of water on the planet. The success of his space-flight instruments have led to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) supporting numerous subsequent planetary science instruments.

For his significant contributions to spaceflight instrumentation, Daly has received the 2018 McCurdy Award from the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute (CASI), the NASA Silver Medal (Group;2017), and the NASA Group Achievement Award (2017 & 2009). Asteroid 129973 was named Michaeldaly by the International Astronomical Union in honour of his contributions to asteroid studies.

John Moores

Tier 2 York Research Chair in Space Exploration

John Moores is an internationally recognized planetary scientist and space engineer whose research explores the atmospheres and surfaces of other worlds. His research group has been a member of the science and operations teams of five ESA and NASA space missions to Mars and Titan, and has been awarded the NASA group achievement award on 16 occasions. Moores has published 75 papers with 6,348 citations. He was elected as a Member of the College of New Scholars in the Royal Society of Canada in 2018.

Dr. Moores holds a PhD from the University of Arizona in Planetary Science (2008) and is a member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. He has published 84 papers which have attracted over 7,000 citations (Google Scholar). His research straddles the divide between science and engineering to explore our solar system and the atmospheres of other planets.

Isaac Smith

Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Planetary Science

Isaac Smith is a Canada Research Chair in Planetary Science and Assistant Professor of Earth and Space Science. His current work at Lassonde has multiple components. First, he is a Co-Investigator on the Shallow Radar (SHARAD) instrument on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and participates in planning, data processing, and interpretation of the radar sounder data, especially where the radar observes H2O and CO2 ices. He is also involved in proposing future space missions to the moon and Mars that have Canadian instruments.

Besides radar applications, Smith also uses active mission data to interpret seasonal effects at the martian poles in order to understand how the polar ice cap surfaces change with time. Finally, he is building a Mars environmental chamber at York University that will replicate the conditions at the poles of Mars in order to create CO2 ice and learn about its behavior on other planets. These experiments will hopefully lead to even more advanced experiments with exotic ices such as N2, CO, and CH4.