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Field observations on board M-55 Geophysica

IEK-7 plays a leading role in keeping the Russian high-altitude research aircraft Geophysica available for German atmospheric research. Together with the Russian partners (Myasishchev Design Bureau [MDB], Central Aerological Observatory [CAO]), a sustainable plan for its scientific use was drawn up in 2010.


The Geophysica is currently the only aircraft in Europe capable of carrying instruments to the altitude range of 15–20 km, which plays an important role in the climate system. The topics of planned projects include the climate forcing of the tropics (e.g. Asian monsoon) as well as of aerosols and clouds, interactions between ozone and climate in the stratosphere and the demonstration of future satellite instruments (e.g. AtmoSat). In atmospheric research with Geophysica, successful long-standing cooperations exist between IEK-7, KIT, DLR, five German universities and a large number of international institutions.

For 15 years, this aircraft has played a key role in previous tropical and Arctic EU-funded campaigns, coordinated by IEK-7 (e.g. EUPLEX, SCOUT-O3, AMMA-SCOUT, RECONCILE, StratoClim). In the past decade IEK-7 also served as a point of contact for the Russian operator (MDB) and the European user community. IEK-7 provides the main part of the M55-Geophysica instrumentation including GLORIA, HALOX (Halogen Oxide monitor), FISH, NIXE-CAPS (see below). A new focus is on the measurement of sulfur compounds [1], which triggered the development of the chemical ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometer FunMass and AMICA (Airborne Mid Infrared Cavity-enhanced spectrometer) in the period under review including preparatory studies.

IEK-7 plays a leading role in the HALO and M55-Geophysica flight planning as well. Based on CLaMS (see below), IEK-7 is developing and maintaining the core mission planning tool for most of the HALO and M55-Geophysica missions based on CLaMS.


  1. Kremser, S. et al. 2016, Rev. Geophys. 54: (2), 278-335, doi:10.1002/2015RG000511.