Pembroke-based firm brings deep space radar to commercial market in world first

An Ottawa-area company is bringing its nearby radio astronomy antenna to the commercial space industry.

Pembroke’s Thoth Technology is partnering with software firm AGI to make the Algonquin Radio Observatory’s deep space radar available for commercial use.

Housed in Algonquin Provincial Park and operated by Thoth, the ARO is the largest-such antenna in Canada. The firm provides communications and tracking services of near-Earth objects.

The ARO’s 46-metre antenna is capable of tracking objects in orbit around the planet, such as satellites and debris, to a height of 50,000 kilometres. The only comparable radars around the world are government-owned, making the ARO the first commercially available technology with deep space range.

Thoth and AGI have been working together on upgrades to the ARO for the past two years, testing and validating the radar’s capabilities. The antenna has an edge over traditional telescopes used in observation as it’s unaffected by daylight or weather restrictions.

Tracking the movement of celestial bodies, or space situational awareness, has been a growing market. In recent years, defence contractors have supplemented governments monitoring the movement of space junk. Private firms have also recently been coordinating their own launches, with Elon Musk’s SpaceX being one notable example.