From Dirk (ESA), Kiruna, northern Sweden, 11 December

First flight from Kiruna gets underway

Great news! The Geophysica aircraft made its way out of the hangar for the first flight of the ESSENCE campaign.

Owing to a few problems with the electronics and the GLORIA instrument playing up a bit we had to delay the first flight.

So we were really happy this morning to see the pilot take his seat and the plane lift off.

Once it had disappeared from view in the clouds, everyone followed the flight on the computer screen.

As soon as it had reached the right altitude, the instrument was put into measurement mode and as far as we can tell, the data look promising.

We are now keen to analyse the data – which will hopefully provide insight into the complexities of the upper atmosphere. This is crucial for the development of the PREMIER candidate Earth Explorer mission, which aims to improve our understanding of how atmospheric chemistry and climate are linked.

Preparing for flight from a snowy Kiruna