Previous campaigns

Did you know? Fact number 1

The volume of the largest open stratospheric balloons used by CNES can be up to 1,200,000 m3.

Did you know? Fact number 2

The height of a deployed balloon, including the flight chain, is about 300 m, about half as tall as the CN Tower.

Did you know? Fact number 3

The envelope alone can be as high as a 35-floor building, or the height of the tower of Montreal's Olympic Stadium; and its diameter is equivalent to the size of 2 hockey rinks or 2 Airbus A-340s.

Did you know? Fact number 4

The area of the envelope, if deployed flat, is equivalent to approximately 8 soccer fields.

Did you know? Fact number 5

For more information on other types of balloons, visit the following website: www.cnes.fr/web/CNES-fr/8510-differents-types-de-ballons.php (French only).

AUSTRAL 2017

March 19 to April 20, 2017 – Alice Springs, Australia

On April 9, 2017, six Canadian payloads flew on a stratospheric balloon from Alice Springs, Australia. The balloon performed a 10-hour mission at an altitude of 36 km. After being tested, the Aerosol Limb Imager tool V2 and the Imaging Fabry-Pérot Spectrometer instrument are now available for future satellite missions.

  • Aerosol Limb Imager Version 2 (ALI V2)

    Developed by the University of Saskatchewan, ALI V2 is an atmospheric monitoring tool that can measure the concentration of aerosols—tiny dispersed particles—in the upper atmosphere using a unique optical device. The instrument is an improved version of a prototype designed and constructed by the University of Saskatchewan that was successfully deployed on a stratospheric balloon in 2014. The upgraded version of ALI can detect a wider range of optical wavelengths, allowing it to more precisely measure the size of aerosol particles. Aerosols play an important role in climate change by scattering sunlight away from the Earth.

  • Imaging Fabry-Pérot Spectrometer (IFPS)

    Jointly developed by York University and MPB Communications Inc., this instrument is an improved version of a technology that was successfully tested on a stratospheric balloon in 2016. It allowed the team to test the modifications made to the filter, actuators and optics in order to improve the performance of the imager for future space missions. The objectives were to obtain accurate, detailed, simultaneous, and collocated high-resolution measurements of molecular oxygen in the 20–40 km altitude range; and to simultaneously retrieve information on surface pressure, aerosols, and surface albedo from the measurements.

  • Optical Particle Counters (OPC) Package

    The OPC package aimed to sample the stratospheric air from the balloon platform and measure aerosol size and concentration. The package consisted of a suite of three existing OPC instruments: Condensation Nuclei Counter, Wyoming OPC, and New OPC. The objectives were to provide validation of satellite limb scattering observations, enable synergistic and corroborative aerosol measurements for use with the Aerosol Limb Imager (ALI) measurements, and contribute to the scientific record of in-situ size-resolved stratospheric aerosol measurements to further understanding of volcanic influence and aerosol formation and transport. This project was carried out by the University of Saskatchewan, in collaboration with the University of Colorado and the University of Wyoming.

  • GPS and Data Logger Breadboard

    The goal of this multi-purpose electronics box was to record and provide the location and attitude of the gondola during the entire flight. In addition, the instrument monitored, through various sensors, the health of other components onboard the gondola. It included an onboard storage capacity for telemetry data and two high-definition cameras. This instrument was an improved version of a technology developed by a group of students from École de technologie supérieure, which was successfully tested on a stratospheric balloon in 2016. Further development was carried out by the CSA.

  • Power Subsystem Breadboard

    This modular subsystem consisted of a set of Li-ion batteries and a power distribution unit. It was developed by the CSA for STRATOS flights to provide required power to payloads.

  • RumbleSat Art Package

    As part of the RumbleSat Art in Space Mission, a University of Calgary research project, the first RumbleSat I mission payload consisted of 64 small works of art. After it returns to Earth, it began a cross-Canada tour on July 1, 2017, as part of the 150 Artists Celebrating Canada 150: the RumbleSat Art from the Edge of Space Exhibition.

KASA 2016

August 10 to September 10, 2016 – Kiruna, Sweden

The 2016 Stratos campaign, called KASA 2016, took place at the Esrange Space Center in Sweden. Through this mission, the Canadian Space Agency provided a stratospheric flight opportunity for three payloads developed by industry and academia, as well as support and expert advice for payload preparation and integration. The Canadian payloads were integrated onboard a French gondola to perform a 10-hour stratospheric mission at an altitude of 36 km.

This mission enabled new technologies to be tested and validated and scientific experiments to be performed in a near-space environment at a low cost. With more than 40 student participants, Stratos 2016 helped train and develop a highly qualified workforce: the next generation of Canadian engineers and scientists. It also contributed to the scientific and technological advancement of the Canadian space sector.

The following payloads were integrated onboard the flight:

  • Fabry-Pérot Spectrometer

    The objective was to demonstrate that the instrument could obtain very high spectral resolution measurements related to atmospheric particulates and greenhouse gases. Jointly developed by York University and MPB Communications Inc., this technology has two-dimensional imaging capability and could readily be implemented on a future satellite mission.

  • Attitude Determination Module

    Built by a group of students from the École de technologie supérieure in Montreal, the Attitude Determination Module is a multi-purpose electronics box that can operate in the stratosphere, up to 40 km. Its goal was to record and provide the location and attitude of the gondola during the entire flight. The instrument also monitored, through various sensors, the health of other components onboard the gondola.

  • Lightning Probe

    The Lightning Probe was entirely developed by a group of high school students from Sir Wilfrid Laurier School in Calgary. The objective was to demonstrate that this data acquisition system could take temperature and pressure measurements during the flight. It was the first time high school students were given access to a stratospheric balloon flight as part of the Stratos Program. More information on the students' project can be found on the Canadian Space Agency's blog.

Lastly, for the first time this year, a Web platform was available to users to get real-time remote access to their scientific and flight data during the stratospheric mission.

Strato Science 2015

August 12 to September 29, 2015 – Timmins, Ontario

Canadian industry, universities and students from across the country tested their experiments in a near-space environment, thanks to the Canadian Space Agency's stratospheric balloon program, Stratos.

During this campaign, six Canadian payloads were flown:

  • Balloon-borne Imaging Testbed (BIT)

    Developed by Professor Barth Netterfield from the University of Toronto, this wide-field imaging telescope prototypewas designed to provide the highest resolution, visible light images of any instrument other than the Hubble Space Telescope.The objective of the flight was to validate a new method for making high-quality astronomical observations from a balloon. This half-metre telescope was designed to demonstrate that it is possible to look at stars and galaxies at a much higher resolution than can be done from the ground.

  • PAyload for Remote sounding of the Atmosphere using Balloon Limb Experiments (PARABLE)

    Under the scientific leadership of Professor Kaley Walker from the University of Toronto, PARABLE is a suite of four payloads working together to take measurements of the atmosphere for climate change science and atmospheric pollution studies:

    • Portable Atmospheric Research Interferometric Spectrometer for the Infrared (PARIS-IR)

      PARIS-IR was designed to measure the spectrum of sunlight that passes through different altitudes of the atmosphere to determine its chemical composition. The objective of the flight was to allow scientists to infer how the composition of the atmosphere changes with altitude. The measurements obtained are intended to be used to validate observations from the Canadian SCISAT satellite, which monitors the ozone layer and the atmosphere, and to track possible long-term changes in the atmosphere. This flight also assessed the performance of a new sun-tracker system used to point the instrument's field of view towards the sun.

    • Fourier Transform Spectrometer with Dynamical Alignment system (DA-2)

      DA-2 is a Fourier transform spectrometer with dynamical alignment used to observe the composition of the atmosphere by measuring the spectrum of sunlight. The goals of the measurements were similar to those of PARIS-IR. This particular payload has been profiling air pollutants and ozone-destroying chemicals in the atmosphere since the 1970s. It used its historical data and made observations according to the new measurements obtained. A new data acquisition and instrument control system was also tested as part of this flight. Dr. Pierre Fogal of the University of Toronto is the payload lead.

    • SunPhotoSpectrometer, Balloon version (SPS-B)

      SPS-B is a sunphotospectrometer that has the ability to measure a whole spectrum of light at once with a detector similar to that found in a digital camera. Each pixel can look at a different wavelength of light. SPS-B measured the light as the sun sets below the balloon's altitude. While PARIS-IR and DA-2 took measurements in the infrared, SPS-B's data was in the ultraviolet and visible parts of the solar spectrum. Dr. Tom McElroy of York University was responsible for the payload.

    • O2 Spectrometer (O2S)

      O2S was designed to measure the amount of molecular oxygen below the balloon. The information collected is used for the development of a system that will measure near-surface carbon dioxide and methane—both greenhouse gases—from space. The payload's measurements also helped assess the performance of a new pointing system that is intended for eventual space applications. Dr. Tom McElroy of York University was responsible for the payload.

  • Self-contained 360° Camera rig

    The 360° camera rig is a set of high-resolution cameras using a revolutionary 360-degree technology that captured a sub-orbital view of Earth during the balloon's 38-km ascent and flight into the stratosphere. DEEP Inc. is behind this new technology.