Atmospheric and Earth System Research with HALO

(High Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft)

Geodetic-Geophysical-Atmospheric Flight Mission of Antarctica - ANTHALO

Mission Time Period: Dezember 2017, Mission cancelled 

Principle Investigator 

The main goal of this project  is to demonstrate the feasibility of scientific experiments aboard HALO during the ANTHALO Blue Ice (ANTHALO-BI) mission in Antarctica.

In this context, a risk assessment has to be carried out. Furthermore, the scientific instrumentation for its integration into an extensive HALO scientific mission in Antarctica, the ANTHALO mission, is to be prepared. The operation of the aircraft with landing and taking off at a blue ice runway, together with measurements of GNSS reflectometry and INS strapdown vector gravimetry, is a core element within this project and a major, indispensable step towards the realization of ANTHALO.

The main goals of the ANTHALO mission have to be kept in mind when realizing the present project. These are to gain consistent, highly accurate observations of  the gravity and magnetic field of the Earth, of surface height, surface/firn properties, thickness and internal layering of the ice sheet, and of the thermal structure and dynamic regime of the middle atmosphere along long flight profiles over the Antarctic continent and, where pertinent, the adjacent Southern Ocean. The geodetic analysis of GNSS data will allow a determination of the flight trajectory in highly accurate coordinates, providing a common reference to the up-to-date International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF) for all observables.

To realize a reasonable coverage of measurements in Antarctica it is necessary to choose an airfield in Antarctica as the base for aircraft operations. Thus, the ANTHALO-BI mission will comprise blue-ice landing and taking-off, preferably at Troll Airfield (Dronning Maud Land, East Antarctica), and some flights at the margin of the Antarctic ice sheet, according to prescribed regulations of DLR-FX to operate the HALO in the Antarctic environment.

Aboard ANTHALO-BI we aim to perform scientific measurements of strapdown vector gravimetry utilizing a specially calibrated Inertial Navigation System (INS), and of GNSS reflectometry using sideward and downward directed antennas. These measurements will be analysed to infer information on gravity-field related parameters and on surface heights in the marginal region of the Antarctic ice sheet.

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