Trace gas concentration measurements in the stratosphere and troposphere are critically required as inputs to constrain climate models. For this purpose, measurement campaigns on stratospheric aircraft and balloons are being carried out all over the world, each one involving sensors which are tailored for the specific gas and environmental conditions. This paper describes an automated, portable, mid-infrared quantum cascade laser spectrometer, for in situ carbon monoxide mixing ratio measurements in the stratosphere and troposphere. The instrument was designed to be versatile, suitable for easy installation on different platforms and capable of operating completely unattended, without the presence of an operator, not only during one flight but for the whole period of a campaign. The spectrometer features a small size (80 × 25 × 41 cm
), light weight (23 kg) and low power consumption (85 W typical), without being pressurized and without the need of calibration on the ground or during in-flight operation. The device was tested in the laboratory and in-field during a research campaign carried out in Nepal in summer 2017, onboard the stratospheric aircraft M55 Geophysica. The instrument worked extremely well, without external maintenance during all flights, proving an in-flight sensitivity of 1–2 ppbV with a time resolution of 1 s.
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