Analysis of planetary geology has led this Ontario university professor to travel the world. His skills have now led him to be part of the NASA team that will develop the scientific program to study the lunar surface when humans go there for the first time in more than 50 years.
Professor Osinski is the only Canadian to be part of NASA’s recently announced “geology team” for the Artemis III mission – the mission that plans to land and walk on the moon. Experts are planning the scientific tasks of the astronauts, who are scheduled to land near the south pole of the moon as early as December 2025.
“Honestly, it still seems pretty surreal,” Osinski, a professor of geosciences at Western University, admitted in a telephone interview. It’s still on my mind.”
NASA is planning several Artemis missions that will return humans to the Moon and further explore the lunar surface, with the goal of using these results for a possible mission to Mars.
The Artemis II mission – which also includes Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen – will send a four-person crew into space for a flyby of the far side of the moon as early as November next year. This will be the first time a human has ventured so far from Earth.
The Artemis III mission will be the first manned mission to land on the lunar south pole – and the first lunar landing since Apollo 17 in 1972.
The team of geologists, which includes Professor Osinski, will plan the scientific tasks of the astronauts during their walks on the moon. In particular, the astronauts will collect lunar samples, images and scientific measurements. The samples and data collected will help deepen the understanding of fundamental planetary processes, NASA said.
“Artemis III will land in the South Pole region, where there are many craters,” emphasized the Ontario professor. NASA has not yet announced where exactly the landing site will be, so at this point I hope we will be doing a lot of work with all available satellite imagery to develop a plan for the locations the astronauts will visit.
Mr. Osinski is also the scientific director of the first-ever mission of the Canadian-made rover, the lunar rover scheduled to roll on the surface of the South Pole in 2026.
Mr. Osinski, 47, grew up in the United Kingdom and moved to Canada in 1999. He began teaching at Western University in London in 2007. Although he has always been interested in science in general, he describes his deep interest in space as a “late calling.”
It was only after moving to Canada and working with NASA and the Canadian Space Agency that he developed a real fascination with space exploration, he says. “Since then, it’s just expanded and expanded.”
“Currently, more Canadian scientists, engineers and other professionals are involved in various missions, not only at NASA, but in various space agencies around the world, and in more Canadian space missions than ever before,” emphasizes the geologist.