TanDEM-X Blog

TanDEM-X is on its way to Baikonur!


Since my last report, the satellite, weighing in at 1350 kilograms, has arrived safely at Franz Josef Strauss Airport in Munich, packed in its air-conditioned transport container, and will set out at 18:00 today on the next leg of its journey on board an Antonov AN-124 bound for Baikonur in Kazakhstan. Immediately after it lands on 12 May, the launch campaign will start. The satellite will be unpacked, filled with hydrazine fuel and then put through a series of tests. One week before its launch date, the satellite will be transported to its silo, in which the Dnepr-1 launch vehicle that will take it into orbit is ready and waiting. The satellite will then be installed on the launcher, its batteries will be charged and the final tests will be conducted. Then, all anyone can do is to cross their fingers and wish it well! read more

Energy question of the week: Can sunlight be used to split water directly into oxygen and hydrogen?

10.05.2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken

Solar cells are good at converting sunlight directly into electricity. However, they come nowhere close to the efficiency of natural photosynthesis. Using chlorophyll, green plants have mastered the art of producing energy-rich molecules such as sugar and starch from carbon dioxide, water and sunlight. Would it not make sense to harness this natural process to generate energy? read more

Energy question of the week: Can modern freight ships sail using wind power?

03.05.2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken

Rising fuel costs are urging shipowners all over the world to find ways to deliver cargo across the seas more economically. In the 1920s, the German Aerospace Center's predecessor institute developed Flettner rotors. Some 80 years later, a cargo ship is again sailing with rotating cylindrical sails. But is this change worth it? read more

The countdown has started!


There are just 54 days for the most spectacular remote sensing mission ever to commence. Never before have two satellites flown in such close formation – their minimum distance will be only 200 metres. The two satellites are TerraSAR-X, which has been orbiting the Earth for the last three years, and its virtually identical twin, TanDEM-X, which will follow it into space on 21 June 2010. Working together, they can be compared to two eyes – capable of seeing things in perspective – because the mission objective is a complete survey of Earth in two and a half years. read more


The first mission weblog - welcome to the TanDEM-X blog!


Right on time for 'shipment' of the German radar satellite TanDEM-X this coming Thursday, 29 April 2010, we are launching the TanDEM-X blog – and looking forward to our first mission weblog on the new platform. The plan at this time is for Mission Manager Stefan Buckreuss and the DLR Communications team to be joined on the blog by colleagues working in the areas of project management, science, mission operations, the ground station network, flight dynamics, radar, calibration and data processing. read more

A volcanic eruption affects the whole of Europe – is the air clear?


Two days after the successful flight of DLR's Falcon research aircraft, the airspace over Germany has been re-opened. Admittedly, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano is still ejecting lava and ash, but the German weather service (DWD), the German air traffic control organisation (DFS) and the German Federal Ministry of Transport (BMVBS) have authorised flights again on the basis of current weather data. DLR has carried out two more flights after requests from the authorities, and the dust has settled, or – to be more precise – has moved on. read more

Energy question of the week: Does the future of wind power lie in the open seas?

26.04.2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken

In January 2010, wind farms in Germany had a generating capacity of 25,777 megawatts. This means that almost eight percent of Germany's electricity requirement can be met in a climate-neutral way. However, since land areas exposed to strong winds are limited, both large and small-scale power-generating businesses are jostling for position out in the open sea. This poses a simple question: are offshore wind farms genuinely more efficient? read more

Energy question of the week: How much electricity could be generated from ocean currents?

21.04.2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken

Electricity has been generated from tidal power for decades. Large installations could supply entire towns and cities. However, tides are not the only forces moving water in our seas. Ocean currents also move huge amounts of water all around the globe. Is it worth exploiting this power source? read more

A volcanic eruption affects the whole of Europe – part 2


After air traffic over Europe largely came to a standstill on Friday, and the public is increasingly discussing the question of how to judge the situation. At the same time, responsibility, expertise and effective actions in a problematic situation are confused. read more

A volcanic eruption affects the whole of Europe


As of today, nearly all Europeans know that Iceland has active volcanos, and some are even familiar with the name Eyjafjallajökull. The consequences of the eruption have paralysed air traffic over a wide area. DLR was able – as were its partner organizations, NASA and ESA – to use its expertise and access to appropriate satellite data to inform the public about the extent of the problem. read more

Energy question of the week: Is it possible to fly on nothing but solar power?

12.04.2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken

In cruise ships, electrical propulsion units – powered by diesel engines – are now standard equipment. Every day, buses with electric motors powered by fuel cells ply the streets of Hamburg. Now the first aircraft powered solely by electric motors are taking off. However, in the quest to find exciting, original and climate-friendly propulsion, are solar cells powerful enough to get an aircraft off the ground? read more


A week of recharging on an island – away, but still present


This entry doesn’t deal with the usual bustle in and around DLR; it is quite simply about a few days of vacation on an East Frisian island and the special opportunity it provided to harmonise relaxation and work. read more

Energy question of the week: How is electrical power carried across the sea?

06.04.2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken

Two trends are emerging for future renewable electricity. In the first, local solar, wind or biomass plants will produce more energy for small communities or single homes. In the second, large amounts of electricity will be generated by solar power stations in desert areas or extensive offshore wind farms, and delivered over long distances to densely populated areas. But how can electrical power be delivered over long distances without large losses? read more