Our place in the universe

Explore 50 years of Inquiry


Seeking Answers to the Big Qiestions

Finding answers to questions about our origins, using those answers to further understand this big, beautiful planet, it's past, present and future; that's the business we are in. Tracking the data, sharing that knowledge, and helping others to also explore our place in the universe is what makes any academic pursuit worthwhile.

Exploring our Origins

Feathered dinosaurs, meorite discoveries, cosmic rays, the atmosphere and other phenomena. Partnering with other institutes, universities and governments help make the journey of discovery possible

1957

SPUTNIK I LAUNCHED

The Space Race begins and an emphasis on science education.


1962

RESEARCH ROCKET LAUNCHED

Dr. Baxter, Dr. Will, Dennis Green, Charles Hansen and William Jones of the Physics Department, complete a successful probe in the third series of X-ray research rocket fringes from Resolute Bay, NWT. Their Black Bryant III rocket is sent 100 miles (160 km) into the upper atmosphere.


1968

UNPRECEDENTED ARCHAELOGICAL FIND

Bison butchering site with 7,000-year-old bones and tools is dug up by construction workers. Archaeology Department faculty and students describe it as the first good archaeological find in Calgary.


1969

APOLLO 11 MOON LANDING

Dr. Gordon W. Hodgson, Exobiologist (study of extraterrestrial life) awaits samples of the moon gathered on Apollo 15 mission. Hodgson becomes a principal investigator of Apollo moon samples.

1971

AURORAL IMAGES CAPTURED

UCalgary helps capture the first global auroral images from space.


1972

ASTROPHYSICAL OBSERVATORY OPENS

Originally called the University of Calgary Astrophysical Observatory, the facility is later renamed the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory after Alexander Rothney (Sandy) Cross, who donated the land for the observatory. His father was A.E. Cross, one of the Big Four ranchers who backed the 1912 Calgary Stampede


1978

SPACE SCIENCE RESEARCH GROUP ESTABLISHED

Later named the Institute for Space Imaging Science in the '90s.


1981

COSMIC RAY STATION CLOSES AS RESEARCH BECOMES OBSOLETE

The National Research Council established a Cosmic Ray Laboratory on Sulphur Mountain—one of three in Canada. The research into cosmic rays has matured and become obsolete and the Sulphur Mountain lab was closed, however the data gathered over the 32 years in operation is invaluable to this day.


1987

PINPOINT PRECISION

Cairn erected by Surveying Engineering to commemorate the 1987 Canadian Engineering Centennial. It is the most precisely measured place in Canada at LSD 14 30-24-1 W5, 115.4 m above sea level, 6,366,344 metres from the centre of the earth, 384,400 kilometres from the moon and 149,600,000 kilometres from the sun.

1989

HUB OF EXPLORATION

Institute for Space Research established. UCalgary named headquarters of Canadian Network for Space Research.


1992

RESEARCH ABOARD SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA MISSION

NASA space shuttle Columbia blasts off carrying a UCalgary science experiment to determine how much energy astronauts use when they are in space. Mechanical engineering grad, Laura Lucier, and 2004 Distinguished Alumni award recipient, worked at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre as flight controller during the Discovery mission.


1996

CHANCELLOR ROBERT THIRSK IN SPACE

His first trip into space was aboard Columbia on which Thirsk and six crewmates performed 43 experiments related to life and materials sciences.


1999

MARTIAN PROBE SENT INTO SPACE

The design of an atmospheric probe, called a Thermo-Plasma Analyzer (TPA), led by physics and astronomy professors Greg Garbe and Andrew Yau, was successfully launched on the Japanese spacecraft Planet-B. The probe remained in orbit for three years to survey Mars.

2001

PREHISTORIC PEDESTRIANS

Archaeologist Brian Kooyman, geologist and paleontologist Len Hills and their research team discover 13,000-year-old tracks of wooly mammoths, camels, horses, bison and caribou in St. Mary’s Reservoir in southern Alberta.


2009

GOING TO GREAT HEIGHTS TO HONOUR ASTRONAUT

Canadian Space Agency astronaut and UCalgary alumnus Robert Thirsk has become the first Canadian to receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws via live downlink from the International Space Station.

GPS TECHNOLOGY HELPS CANADIAN ALPINE SKI TEAM

A little GPS system called STEALTH, developed at the Schulich School of Engineering, has helped the country’s best ski racers perfect their technique and route down a course.


2010

NOW SHOWING: CANADA'S NORTHERN LIGHTS

AuroraMAX online observatory begins streaming Canada’s northern lights live over the Internet every night. AuroraMAX is a collaboration between the Canadian Space Agency, UCalgary, City of Yellowknife and Astronomy North.


2013

COL. CHRIS HADFIELD VISITS CAMPUS

UCalgary hosts astronaut Hadfield for his first public presentation since leaving the International Space Station. Hadfield shared his breath-taking photos and remarkable accounts of his time in space.


2014

FUNDING RECEIVED TO STUDY SPACE STORMS

Christopher Cully, Faculty of Science, will lead a team from UCalgary, University of Washington and Dartmouth College to develop a novel in-flight experiment that will clarify the dynamics of the harsh radiation environment satellites travel through and why the high-energy particles that make up that radiation rain collide with the upper atmosphere.


2015

SPACE FLIGHT BONE LOSS STUDY

Radiologist Dr. Steven Boyd, will lead one of four experiments conducted by Canadian universities. His project, dubbed “TBone" to reflect the ‘three-dimensional bone’ techniques used, will investigate the effects of weightlessness on the human body.