Space Blog | 31. August 2016 | posted by Manuela Braun

Back in saturated air at sea level

Source: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
Into the tube: after the descent, all test subjects in the study were given an MRI scan to examine their brains.

The altitude sickness study conducted in the Valais Alps has delivered a sizeable yield: almost 1500 vials containing blood samples from the test subjects, frozen in dry ice at minus 80 degrees Celsius, were transported from the Margherita Hut at an altitude of 4554 metres back down to the DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Cologne. There are also just under 200 urine samples, 44 saliva samples and 66 blood counts. The test subjects themselves are also contributing 11 carefully kept 'journals', in which they noted the extent to which they felt symptoms of altitude sickness. Twenty-two measurements of the test subjects' blood pressure and another 22 revealing oxygen saturation levels in their blood are also included in the dataset. For investigator Ulrich Limper this means a detailed evaluation that will take over six months to complete.

Departure from the top station

The test subjects completed their morning ritual for the last time on Monday, 22 August: upon waking, they measured their blood pressure in a supine position and then hopped onto the scales. The investigator in the study drew blood one final time. And then, at 07:00, the first group set off across the glacier accompanied by a mountain guide, and headed for the cable car station in Punta Indren to travel from the vantage point at 1600 metres to the base of the valley. Meanwhile, the second group was busy packing the equipment left at the Margherita Hut: the ultrasound device, crates of samples tucked away in dry ice and luggage. Altogether, 600 kilograms had to be prepared for return transport by helicopter. read more

Space Blog | 24. August 2016 | posted by Manuela Braun

When bad news is good news

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
Even during the climb, it was apparent who was better suited to the altitude and thinner air.

Some of the test subjects are suffering. The diary of one female student participant records all that one would not want to have – massive headache, severe fatigue, nausea and vomiting, oedema – water retention – in the hands, insomnia. The first symptoms appeared during the climb, as the 10 test subjects first climbed from Alagna in Italy up to the Orestes Hut, and on to the Gnifetti Hut at an altitude of 3647 metres. On Tuesday it was finally time to climb to the final destination – the Regina Margherita Hut situated at an altitude of over 4500 metres.

For the participants with no – or only minor symptoms – of altitude sickness, it was a hike over the Lys Glacier with beautiful views; for the very sick, step by step, with crampons on their shoes and a five-kilogram pack on their backs, it was an arduous walk and anything but pleasurable. But, in this case, bad news is good news – DLR lead investigator Ulrich Limper needs to test subjects whose bodies are reacting to the lower air pressure and lack of oxygen. read more

Space Blog | 22. June 2016 | posted by Julia Heil | 2 Comments

Bye Bye BIROS

Credit: ISRO
On 22 June 2016, the microsatellite BIROS took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India on board a PSLV launcher (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle).

It was finally time: after another postponement of the deadline, the fire detection satellite BIROS (Bi-spectral Infrared Optical System) took off on 22 June 2016.

All of the collectively crossed fingers helped: here is a look back at the days that preceded the launch.
Although a part of the DLR team had already set off on their homeward journey to Germany, systems engineer Christian Schultz, project coordinator Matthias Hetscher, design engineer Matthias Lieder and software engineer Stefan Trippler remained on site in India to accompany the microsatellite in its final preparations. Schultz set off for Germany shortly before the launch to take his place at the control centre in Oberpfaffenhofen. read more

Space Blog | 09. June 2016 | posted by Julia Heil

BIROS – A small satellite on the move

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
Upon its arrival, the BIROS microsatellite had to be removed from its transportation crate

Forty degrees Celsius and approximately 60 percent humidity – these are the weather conditions outside. That is why the BIROS team is happy to work in the cool cleanrooms of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in India for most of the day. They are working out here, as the launch date for the BIROS (Bispectral InfraRed Optical System) microsatellite is drawing near. It is due to be launched from the SDSC on the island of Sriharikota on the south coast of India on 22 June 2016. BIROS and its partner satellite TET-1 (Technologie-Erprobungsträger 1; Technology Experiment Carrier 1) will then orbit Earth at an altitude of 500 kilometres, from where they will each use two infrared cameras to keep an eye on forest fires and other high-temperature events. A great deal of work and coordination effort will have been carried out before BIROS can start its work in space – 10 DLR institutes have been working for three years on preparing the satellites for their mission.

From Adlershof to India

The group of scientists from the DLR Institute of Optical Sensor Systems reached the Indian city of Chennai on 10 May. At that point, BIROS was already at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, some 80 kilometres away, after having been picked up from Berlin-Adlershof on 4 May. The buzzing metropolis of Chennai awaited the scientists and engineers. In 2014, the city was the sixth largest in India with 4.9 million inhabitants – and it is still growing. read more

Space Blog | 24. May 2016 | posted by Paul Zabel

Studying botany to grow vegetables at the South Pole

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
 

Although I won't be leaving to Antarctica until December 2017 on my one-year expedition as part of the EDEN ISS project, preparations for it are already under way. Ultimately, I will be responsible for the operation of the EDEN ISS greenhouse in Antarctica, and that includes all the tasks from sowing the plants to harvesting. My gardening skills will determine whether the greenhouse can contribute to the vegetable diet of the crew of the Neumayer III research station and whether all our experiments are successful. That is why I have spent the last week in the Netherlands. There, experts introduced me to the professional cultivation of vegetables in greenhouses. As a trained engineer who never really had green fingers, the trip was absolutely fascinating and very instructive. read more

Space Blog | 14. April 2014

First week ‘on Mars’

We have already spent one week ‘on Mars’ and yet it feels like we arrived yesterday. Our ‘landing’, during the night of Friday 28 March, was quite tumultuous, with an arrival at sunset in pouring rain, strong winds and a temperature of about 10 degrees Celsius… like an actual Martian sandstorm. We unloaded all our luggage and proceeded to the last interviews with journalists from the University of Hawaii – in the rain. “Good luck and see you in four months!” said Kim Binsted as she exited the habitat. And our mission had begun! read more

Space Blog | 09. April 2014

Mission HI-SEAS: 'Life on Mars'

Lucie Poulet said goodbye to the outside world for four months; the scientist from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is a crewmember in the Mars simulation run by the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Among other things, the 28-year-old scientist will use the second mission within the Hawaii Space Exploration Analogue and Simulation (HI-SEAS) programme to study the influence that light of different wavelengths has on plants. But she will also be the subject of intense observation – the University of Hawaii is using the habitat to examine how the six participants behave and work together during the months of isolation. In this blog she tells about her ‘life on Mars’. read more

Space Blog | 26. August 2013 | posted by Christian Grimm | 1 Comment

First test on Japanese soil

Mascot

The MASCOT asteroid lander will be delivered to the Japanese space agency JAXA at the start of next year. It will be integrated into the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft and prepared for launch, scheduled for late 2014. There is still a long way to go, but there is little time! read more