The University of Winnipeg



Up, Up and Away

UWinnipeg students and faculty launch high altitude balloon to capture data and images

UW Cloud Punchers (CWE-HABEX) Team Members (from left to right): Justine Backer, Adrienne Ducharme, Geneva Cloutis, Ashley Santucci, Dr. Tabitha Wood, Hailey Robichaud, and Kimberly Thomson

WINNIPEG, MB – A University of Winnipeg team called the UW Cloud Punchers (CWE-HABEX) will launch a high altitude balloon equipped with a camera and sensors for recording atmospheric data as part of an international initiative. The balloon launch is planned for  8:00 am on Friday, April 24  from FortWhyte Alive, at 1961 McCreary Road.  Six students with the University of Winnipeg Geography & Environmental Students Association, along with three faculty members, are participating in the Canada-Wide Experiment (CWE) called the High Altitude Balloon Experiment (HABEX) with all of the teams launching balloons the third week of April. Using an open-source flight system developed at the University of Regina, universities and high schools are gathering, analyzing, and sharing environmental data and high definition video from the edge of space. The UWinnipeg experiment will measure global time, GPS position, ultraviolet/infrared/visible light, barometric pressure, temperature, acceleration, angular rotation and magnetic field. The data will be sent to the University of Regina and the video footage will be available for public viewing at the UWinnipeg Science Rendezvous which takes place on May 9 at the Richardson College for the Environment and Science Complex.

UWinnipeg students Kimberly Thomson and Adrienne Ducharme are excited to be involved.

“The opportunity to team up with universities from across Canada to participate in this experiment is quite phenomenal,” said Thomson. “The project presents a fun and unique way for us to collect atmospheric data that will be contributing to a major research project.”

“The video will be a very interesting way to get young students interested in pursuing studies or a career in the sciences,” added Ducharme.

The UWinnipeg weather balloon is large and white, weighing 600 grams with a one meter parachute. It will be launched using helium.

“This is a great opportunity for the University scientists to be able to share their excitement about experimental research with the general public. Our planet is so amazing and beautiful when you have the time look at it, and this HABEX project is going to provide us with a rare perspective of Winnipeg,” said Dr. Tabitha Wood, Associate Professor, Chemistry. “I think that this particular project is especially successful in fulfilling the goal of the Science Rendezvous festival by helping Canadians share in our passion for using science to explore the world around us”.

The idea of launching balloons is global. The Global Space Balloon Challenge (GSBC) invites people from around the world to simultaneously fly high altitude balloons from every corner of the globe. By providing a specified launch window and central online platform, the GSBC enables teams to showcase their unique cultures while working together to educate the next generation and push the boundaries of what is technologically feasible. This year 268 teams from 46 countries have registered to fly balloons, from all backgrounds, ages, and walks of life.

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Diane Poulin, Senior Communications Specialist, The University of Winnipeg

P: 204.988.7135, E: