Space | 13. October 2010

Initial reports of success from the control room

We are off again; the team at the German Space Operation Center (GSOC) and their colleagues from EADS Astrium gathered two days ago in the control room to manage the transition to close formation flight. We began the first manoeuvre on Monday, 11 October 2010; this is referred to as the ‘drift start’ manoeuvre, which gives the TanDEM X satellite (TDX) the necessary momentum to close to a distance of one kilometre behind TerraSAR X (TSX) within a few days. read more

Space | 12. October 2010

"Everybody waltz!"

Umlaufbahnen der Radarsatelliten

"Everybody waltz!" – this is the invitation to dance at the annual Vienna Opera Ball. This phrase is now applicable to the TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X satellites, because as of yesterday the 'dance floor' is open and close formation flight has begun. Upon successful completion of the final tests, permission to commence the now imminent mission phase was granted by a panel of experts at the conclusion of the Formation Flight Reviews. read more

Energy | 11. October 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 4 Comments

Energy question of the week: Why is energy storage so important?

Whether driving a car, switching on a light, or turning up the heating – we take it for granted that there'll be sufficient energy for us to use at that very moment. But this only works if two basics are in place. Firstly, energy needs to be transported quickly and reliably to the consumer in the required form. Second, energy storage guarantees straightforward access and acts as an 'energy buffer' to fill the gaps in distribution. So, what kinds of storage do we get our everyday energy from? read more

Energy | 04. October 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 6 Comments

Energy question of the week: Is complete self-sufficiency possible with decentralised power stations?

Nearly 80 percent of the electricity used in Europe comes from central power plants to the consumer via the electrical grid. As the popularity of renewable power sources has risen, consumer awareness of the importance of decentralised power production has also grown. The trend for decentralised and intelligent electricity production enjoys further support from projects for networked thermal power stations. Does this technology have the potential to provide an all-inclusive power supply? read more

Energy | 27. September 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 6 Comments

Energy question of the week: Bicycles replacing cars - the future of e-mobility?

According to estimates by the German Federal Government, even though today there are few mass-produced electric cars on the market, there will be a million electric cars on German roads by 2020. Despite numerous pilot projects using electric cars, high expectations are being curbed because of high purchase costs, short ranges and a lack of infrastructure for charging stations. On the other hand, sales of two-wheeled electric vehicles such as scooters and bicycles are breaking all records. So is the electric bicycle replacing the car in terms of e-mobility? read more

Energy | 17. September 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 10 Comments

Energy question of the week: How much energy can be saved by using the successors to incandescent light bulbs?

Gradually, the lights are going out over Europe; but this time, only the incandescent ones. Last year, the EU banned the sale of 100- and 75-watt bulbs, and 60-watt bulbs followed them a few weeks ago. By 2012, incandescent bulbs – which transform only five percent of their input power into light and the rest into heat – will no longer be on sale anywhere in Europe. But what will the result of this ban be? read more

Energy | 13. September 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 2 Comments

Energy question of the week: What part does natural gas play in meeting Germany’s energy requirements?

Whether used for heating, as a vehicle fuel or for power generation in gigantic turbines, natural gas plays a central role in Germany’s national energy supply. With consumption at 100 billion cubic metres a year, its use – and also importation – has almost doubled since 1970; and this trend is still growing. But does such a development make sense? read more

Energy | 03. September 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 3 Comments

Energy question of the week: Which fuel offers the most efficient energy storage?

Whether on the road, by sea or in the air – the basis of modern transport systems is the internal combustion engine. Hardly any other invention has resulted in so many variants in just 100 years of development. One of the reasons for the technical success of diesel and petrol combustion engines is the high energy content of the fuel they burn. But how much energy do fossil fuels really contain, in comparison with hydrogen or lithium ion batteries? read more

Energy | 30. August 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 1 Comment

Energy question of the week: Can the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide be stored safely underground?

Coal-fired power stations release more carbon dioxide per kWh than any other fossil fuel facility, and Germany has a large number of just this sort of power station. It is estimated that around 40 billion tons of coal are stored in potential open cast deposits in Lusatia and the Lower Rhine Basin. That makes up 14 percent of world reserves. The question is, can the carbon dioxide emissions be captured and stored underground? read more

Space | 27. August 2010

TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X 'chatting' for the first time

Brasília

Even though the 'chit chat' between the satellites has so far consisted of no more than the exchange of synchronisation signals – "Hello, here I am!" – that is been all that was needed for the first simultaneous imagery to be captured by TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X. Since 22 July 2010, TerraSAR-X has been flying ahead of TanDEM-X at a distance of just 20 kilometres, in a formation defined for test purposes and which also affords scope for a special series of radar experiments. They have now completed the first ever experiment with bistatic radar involving two satellites flying together in formation. read more