November 3, 2006 10:59pm CST
Alouette (French, "lark") was Canada's first artificial space satellite (see satellite, artificial). Developed to measure variations in the density of electrons in the ionosphere as a function of time of day and latitude, it was a cooperative scientific effort in NASA's Topside Sounder program. Alouette was launched from the Western Test Range (Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.) by a Thor-Agena on Sept. 28, 1962. It achieved an orbit with an apogee of 1,027 km (638 mi) and a perigee of 998 km (620 mi) and performed its mission successfully. The satellite was an oblate spheroid 105 cm (42 in) in diameter, 86 cm (34 in) high, and weighing 144 kg (320 lb). Solar cells and nickel-cadmium batteries supplied power. The primary scientific instrument was a swept-frequency transmitter and receiver. The satellite also had six charged-particle detectors.