Jan Woerner's Blog
 
 

A volcanic eruption affects the whole of Europe

16. April 2010, 21.40, Jan Wörner, 3 Comment/s
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.

"The Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull has ejected large quantities of ash and sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere during its eruptions on 21 March and 15 April. Scientists from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) are evaluating satellite images to investigate the effects of the eruptions on the atmosphere." This is the story on the DLR homepage, supplemented by images acquired by our satellite, TerraSAR-X, among other things.

Hidden behind this sober description are the immense effects on European aviation: Frankfurt, Paris, London without air travel. It also affected me. After I had detailed discussions in Rostock with the state government of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (Secretary of State Michalik), representatives of the Universities of Rostock and Greifswald and the Wismar University of Technology, Business and Design, and our guests from the University of Alabama/Huntsville about cooperation regarding maritime security and medical technology for example, I wanted to fly back to Frankfurt. But unlike many others I was in the comfortable situation to able to fall back on a company car.

This made it possible for me to talk to the media about the speech given by President Obama at the Kennedy Space Center during my journey, and to comment on our view of the consequences. I understand this announcement of American space policy as a direct invitation to bring European and German expertise into transatlantic co-operation. Germany, especially, can substitute competencies in robotics, Earth observation and climate research. In addition, research on the ISS will be strengthened by the clear commitment to its continued use.

Translated from the German original.

Image above: The volcano Eyjafjallajökull on 15 April 2010, image acquired by the radar satellite TerraSAR-X. Source: DLR.