'Pretty cool:' Whitehorse students launch weather balloon

Students at Porter Creek Secondary School in Whitehorse have sent their latest school project up, up and away.

Project is part of National High Altitude Balloon Experiment

Students at Porter Creek Secondary School in Whitehorse launch a weather balloon Thursday as part of a the National High Altitude Balloon Experiment. (Philippe Morin)

The mascot of Porter Creek Secondary School — a stuffed ram — is probably flying about 30 kilometres above Whitehorse right now.

It's a passenger on a scientific device. 

"Pretty cool experiment," said Navarro Davies, a Grade 8 student at the school. 

Students launched a weather balloon Thursday morning as part of the National High Altitude Balloon Experiment which is itself allied with the Global Space Balloon Challenge.

Two other northern teams are also registered, in Inuvik and Fort McPherson, N.W.T.

"Different funding bodies pay for the balloons, pay for the cameras, pay for the data collectors and send them out. People lift them up to 100,000 feet and collect some data," said Dave Brown, a science teacher at the Porter Creek school. 

The white balloon is the same type used by weather stations. It's carrying a Styrofoam box, strengthened with duct tape and with a video camera peeking out the side.

"Mostly the picture of the curve of the earth is what we're after. It's quite beautiful," Brown said. 

Roger Gillies, a tech teacher at the school, filed the appropriate papers with Nav Canada before students waved goodbye to the balloon. 

"We did call the tower just before launch to make sure everything was OK. It's all official," Gillies said.  

The balloon has a tracking device and will likely travel between 50 and 300 kilometres.

Yukon's Capital Helicopters has offered to retrieve the camera so that students can later watch the footage in class.