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geophysica The M-55 Geophysica is the only high altitude aircraft available for research for the European Scientific Community since 1996. It is a dual turbofan aircraft with a ceiling of 21 km and can transport a payload up to 2300Kg. It has an endurance of 5.5 hours with a nominal payload of 1500 Kg and a cruise altitude of 17.5 km and 60 KVA are available for instrument operations. In the world the only real competitors are the NASA ER-2 and the WB-57. These aircrafts are utilised solely by the US scientific community for several years and no real access is possible for the European teams.
Compared to the ER-2 the M-55 Geophysica is an all weather aircraft. It is also safer than the ER-2, being powered by two turbofan engines, and having the possibility to fly also with only one engine
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geophysica The M-55 Geophysica can be equipped with both remote sensing and in situ instrumentation. This makes the platform very flexible. Swapping of instruments can be carried out within few hours, and a different payload can be mounted from one flight to the other, i.e. within 48 hours from the landing of the aircraft, a total new payload can be flown. Since 1994, the Italian National Programme for Antarctic Research, the EC programmes and the Italian Space Agency have strongly funded the M-55 Geophysica to transform it into a stratospheric scientific platform. This has been achieved for the first time during the winter 1996/97 with the first Arctic Campaign, APE-Polecat, where a joint campaign of the M-55 Geophysica and the DLR Falcon was executed from northern Finland to study the stratospheric Ozone Chemistry.
No scientific instrument, designed to fly on the M-55 Geophysica, existed before 1995. Since then, 20 different completely automatic instruments were developed by different scientific institutions all over Europe. In situ and remote sensing instruments have been designed for the M-55 Geophysica. The installation of any new instrument requires some modification to the aircraft.
The Geophsyca-EEIG, ERS-Srl and the Russian side STM-Ltd and MDB have been the links to determine the location of new instruments, to design the modifications to the aircraft, and to start a process of modularisation of all the bays, in order to reduce the cost of installation of new instruments.
Up till now all the scientific campaigns organised with the use of the M-55 Geophysica have aimed to the study of the chemistry and physics of the Upper Troposphere/Lower Stratosphere (UTLS). This seems the main trend also for the future years, as the aircraft can be used in future EC funded Integrated Projects and in ESA contracts.
This page was last modified : 13 April 2005

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