Carbon Dioxide and Methane Mission

Mission status: Completed

Persons in Charge


Andreas Fix, DLR, Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen

Contact point at DLR-FX for this mission:

HALO Project Management: Andreas Minikin, Armin Kurz

Postal address:
DLR Oberpfaffenhofen
Flugexperimente (FX)
Münchener Str. 20
82234 Weßling

Office phone:
+49 (0)8153 28-2538

HALO Deployment Base

Time Period

April 17 – June 18, 2018

Mission phaseDates
Preparation, payload integration, EMI testing17 Apr 2018 - 9 May 2018
Mission execution​14 May 2018 - 12 Jun 2018
Dismounting of payload13 Jun 2018 - 18 Jun 2018

Project description

Carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) have been recognized by the International Panel of Climate Change as the most important of the Earth’s greenhouse gases whose concentration has been directly modified by human activities.

Methane has an estimated global warming potential per molecule 28 times greater than CO2 over a 100 year horizon and 84 times greater over a 20 years horizon and, despite its much lower abundance, thus is the second most significant anthropogenic greenhouse gas. The main anthropogenic emissions of methane originate from livestock breeding, the energy sector, rice agriculture, landfills/waste disposal, and biomass burning. The predominant natural sources are wetlands, geological sources, termites, wild animals, hydrates from the oceans and wildfires.

The CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is mainly determined by the emissions from combustion of fossil fuels and by CO2 uptake and release by the Earth’s oceans and terrestrial biosphere. Currently 91% of the total emissions are caused by fossil fuel combustion and cement production and 9% by land use change.

Large uncertainties in their budget, however, and feedback mechanisms which are, if at all, only partly understood, limit the accuracy of climate change projections. In order to reliably predict the climate of our planet, and to help constrain political conventions on greenhouse gas avoidance, adequate knowledge of the sources and sinks of these greenhouse gases and their feedbacks is mandatory. In spite of the recognized importance of this issue, our current understanding about sources and sinks of the gases CO2 and CH4 is still inadequate.

The overarching objective of CoMet is to improve our understanding and to better quantify the carbon dioxide and methane cycles. Through analyzing the CoMet data, scientists will accumulate new knowledge on the global distribution and temporal variation of the greenhouse gases. These findings will help to better understand the global carbon cycle and its influence on climate. These new findings will be utilized for predicting future climate change and assessing its impact.

The measurement strategies will be chosen to provide the best possible synergy of the instruments. In general, the remote sensors will measure the GHG columns between the ground and flight level. The flight paths will be chosen to fly along projected gradients of the greenhouse gas columns.

On smaller scales such gradients will occur in the vicinity of well-known emission sources such as coal mines, coal-burning power plants, landfills, volcanoes (e.g. Mt. Etna) etc. The flight pattern will be chosen to fly downwind of these emission sources.

On larger scales the hemispheric gradient should be perceivable for example on flights from central Europe towards the sub-tropics. This is the region on Earth where the gradients are largest.


  • German Aerospace Center, Institute of Atmospheric Physics (DLR-IPA)
  • Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI-BGC)
  • University of Bremen,  Institute for Environmental Physics (IUP)
  • Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) München, Meteorological Institute Munich (MIM)
  • Heidelberg University, Institute of Environmental Physics
  • German Aerospace Center, Flight Experiments (DLR-FX)
  • Menlo Systems GmbH

Scientific instruments and payload configuration

  • List of scientific instruments for the mission:

DescriptionPrincipal investigatorInstitution
CHARM-FActive Remote Sensing (lidar technique) for CH4, CO2Axel AmediekDLR-IPA
HALO_JIGCavity-Ring-Down SpectroscopyChristoph GerbigMPI-BGC
HALO_JASCollection of Atmospheric Samples Christoph GerbigMPI-BGC
FOKALSmartComb: Compact Optical Frequency CombAndreas FixDLR-IPA
miniDOASDifferential Optical Absorption SpectroscopyKlaus PfeilstickerUniv. Heidelberg
incl. SHARC
HALO basic data acquisition system
incl. humidity measurement
Andreas GiezDLR-FX

Cabin and exterior configuration of HALO for the mission

HALO cabin layout for CoMet

HALO exterior configuration for CoMet

HALO flights for this mission

Aircraft registrationDateTake off - Landing / UTTotal flight time / hFrom - ToMission #
D-ADLR15.05.201807:50:00 - 14:23:006.55EDMO - EDMO1
D-ADLR19.05.201809:30:00 - 16:28:006.97EDMO - EDMO2
D-ADLR23.05.201806:29:00 - 11:33:005.07EDMO - EDMO3
D-ADLR24.05.201806:26:00 - 14:07:007.68EDMO - EDMO4
D-ADLR28.05.201805:11:00 - 13:54:008.72EDMO - EDMO5
D-ADLR29.05.201806:50:00 - 13:35:006.75EDMO - EDMO6

More information

Press releases, media etc

DLR news, 1-June-2018
European-wide research flights focus on greenhouse gas methane:   Effective monitoring of greenhouse gases is required to achieve ambitious targets for limiting greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the sources and sinks of greenhouse gases must be understood as precisely as possible to produce reliable climate forecasts. From mid-May to mid-June 2018, a flight test campaign led by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is contributing to this international effort. The High Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft (HALO) is concentrating on the two most important anthropogenic greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). Weiterlesen.. (auf deutsch) | Read more.. (in english)

DLR news, 2-Dec-2016
Dem Treibhausgas Methan auf der Spur: Flugversuchsmission wird geplant.   Die internationale Politik hat sich in der Klimavereinbarung von Paris ehrgeizige Ziele zur Begrenzung der Treibhausgasemissionen gesteckt. Eine entscheidende Rolle wird dabei das Monitoring der Emissionen spielen. Zudem müssen für zuverlässige Klimaprognosen die Quellen und Senken der Treibhausgase möglichst genau erforscht werden. Den internationalen Bemühungen in diesem Bereich wird im Frühjahr 2017 eine deutsche Flugversuchsmission unter Leitung des Deutschen Zentrums für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) einen wichtigen Baustein hinzufügen. Das Forschungsflugzeug HALO (High Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft) soll die zwei wichtigsten Klimagase CO2 und Methan ins Visier seiner neuartigen Instrumente nehmen und dabei Daten von Europa bis Nordafrika liefern, an denen derzeit noch ein eklatanter Mangel herrscht. Weiterlesen.. (auf deutsch) | Read more.. (in english)