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