Giant Canadian Research Balloon Completes Second Flight to Study Ozone

Press Release From: Canadian Space Agency
Posted: Wednesday, August 30, 2000

Vanscoy, Saskatchewan, August 30, 2000 - The Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Environment Canada and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), in partnership with universities and industry, successfully launched and retrieved the giant research balloon MANTRA (Middle Atmosphere Nitrogen TRend Assessment) from Vanscoy, Saskatchewan. This was the second flight of the MANTRA project, the first having taken place in August 1998.

"Canadian space scientists are involved in a number of research projects to monitor the Earth's atmosphere," said John Manley, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the CSA and NSERC. "Collaboration among government, industry and universities in this vital area is helping us to understand important issues such as ozone depletion."

"The collaboration between Environment Canada and the international scientific community makes it possible to determine the extent and causes of atmospheric changes that threaten human health and safety," said David Anderson, Minister of the Environment.

The MANTRA balloon was launched at 2:45 a.m. (CST) on August 29 and carried scientific instruments to an altitude of 35 km, passing through the ozone layer in the Earth's stratosphere. As tall as a 20-storey building, the balloon could be seen easily by the naked eye from up to 100 km away. At the peak of its flight, several of the instruments took measurements while tracking the rising sun. The rest of the day was spent scanning the Earth's horizon through a range of altitudes for reactive nitrogen compounds, ozone and aerosol levels. The balloon landed at 4:38 p.m. (CST) just east of Nipawin Provincial Park, 280 km NE of the launch site at Vanscoy.

The flight also successfully tested a new pointing system. The development of an advanced, stabilized pointing system makes it possible for scientists to measure the composition of the atmosphere continuously, rather than just at sunrise and sunset.

The MANTRA research project will help scientists determine the effectiveness of the reduction of ozone-depleting chemicals undertaken since the Montreal Protocol, a global agreement to protect the ozone layer. This environmental treaty, initiated in 1987 and since signed by over 160 countries, used scientific research to set limits for the worldwide production of ozone-depleting substances in order to ensure that ozone levels return to normal and do not become threatened again in the future.

This project complements other initiatives by the Government of Canada to study the earth's ozone layer, such as the SCISAT-1 project - a Canadian science satellite dedicated to the study of the environment.

About the Canadian Space Agency

Established in 1989 and located in Saint-Hubert, Quebec, the Canadian Space Agency co-ordinates all elements of the Canadian Space Program which include, Earth and Environment, Satellite Communications, Space Science, Generic Space Technologies and Human Presence in Space. The Canadian Space Agency is committed to leading the development and application of space-related knowledge for the benefit of Canadians and humanity.

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Caroline Lavallée
Senior Communications
Canadian Space Agency
Tel (450) 926-4370
Cell (514) 943-6808
Fax (450) 926-4352

Lucie Lafrance
Advisor Communications
Environment Canada
Tel. (613) 953-9740

Jennifer Sloan
Press Secretary
Industry Canada
Tel. (613) 995-9001

Johanne Beaulieu
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of the Environment
Tel. (819) 953-2101

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