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© Sébastien CHASTANET / CNES / OMP / IRAP / UT3 / CNRS Images
The payload launch vehicle retains the CLIMAT flight assembly prior to release at the Alice Springs facility in Australia. The flight assembly generally consists of the gondola and its payload of scientific instruments, but also a radar transponder, parachutes to enable a controlled landing during the balloon's post-mission descent, and a small auxiliary balloon from which the gondola is suspended pending lift-off. The CLIMAT flight (Combination of Lasers and Instruments for in situ Measurement of the Atmosphere of Earth) concerns a group of experiments by French and European laboratories aimed at furthering research into atmospheric physics and chemistry. For example, its 2015 flight enabled scientists to identify a 10% increase in methane in columns between 0 km and 15 km between 2000 and 2015; this important finding was subsequently reported at the COP21 climate conference.