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Chalk River, Ont. company heading to the moon in search of water


A relatively unknown company in the Ottawa Valley will be part of a team that is sending Canada's first-ever lunar rover to the moon in 2026.

Bubble Technology Industries (BTI) in Chalk River is designing a device that will attach onto the rover and search for water or ice as it drives across the moon's surface.

"Our system is specifically being designed as a radiation detector with the primary purpose of detecting water at the South Pole of the moon," says Scott MacEwan, a research scientist at BTI.

"We're going to drive around on the moon and look for instances where radiation fields change in such a way that tells us, as scientists, that there's potentially water or ice here."

BTI started the project six years ago when the Canadian Space Agency awarded them a $43-million contract for their radiation technology.

The rover itself is being designed by a separate company in Bolton, Ont. and is described to be roughly the size of a dog kennel.

"Smaller than a golf cart, which is what a lot of people think of when they think of lunar rovers these days," says MacEwan. "Like Curiosity that's on Mars is about the size of a Jeep."

While BTI is fairly unknown as a major technological institution in the Ottawa Valley, they have been aiding astronauts and space exploration for decades.

The company was founded in 1988 as a spin off from Atomic Energy of Canada and first developed personal radiation detection devices carried by astronauts.

"A lot of people don't realize what it is that we do," says Lianne Ing, vice-president at BTI.

The company specializes in equipment for defence, homeland security, and space. Their primary objective is to develop products that detect radiation and explosives.

"We do a lot of radiation detection equipment that gets used at big events," Ing tells CTV News.

"Things like the Super Bowl, presidential inaugurations in the U.S., the World Series. Our equipment gets used to check that there's no harmful sources of radiation through counter terrorism operations."

MacEwan says discovering water on the moon could lead to advancements in potable water for astronauts, future bases on the moon, and the refining of hydrogen to create rocket fuel while already in space.

MacEwan wants to help Canada take that next giant leap in space exploration.

"Water on the moon is one of the first steps that mankind has to take in order to further explore our solar system and the galaxy as a whole." Top Stories

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