Even before its scientific use on the International Space Station (ISS), a stubborn bolt and complex assembly tasks in space made the Electromagnetic Levitator (EML) a particularly challenging experiment.
German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst is back on Earth after spending five and a half months in space. The 38-year-old geophysicist and flight engineer landed in the steppes of Kazakhstan roughly 100 kilometres from the city of Arkalyk at 04:58 CET (09:58 local time) on 10 November 2014 after a three and a half hour return journey on board a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
The Philae lander on board the Rosetta spacecraft has been en route to its destination, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, since 2 March 2004. On 12 November 2014, it will be released from its mother craft at an altitude of 22.5 kilometres above the comet and – if everything goes according to plan – will touch down on the surface of the comet about seven hours later.
Egyptian history has been explored, new words invented and appropriate comparisons sought for; a total of about 8300 suggestions for Philae’s landing site on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko were received at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), the French Space Agency (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales; CNES) the Italian Space Agency (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana; ASI) and the European Space Agency (ESA).
Comet Siding Spring came extraordinarily close to Mars on 19 October 2014. The celestial body - a mere 500 metres in diameter - passed the Red Planet at a distance of just 137,000 kilometres, where it was observed by several spacecraft in orbit around Mars.
The Airbus A300 ZERO-G has completed 5200 flights, 4200 flying hours and 13,180 parabolas in the service of science and microgravity research. Now, the parabolic flight aircraft, operated by French company Novespace, is bowing out into well-earned retirement following the 25th research campaign for DLR.
After a 10-year journey of some seven billion kilometres, the Rosetta mission is now heading towards its next major milestone – setting the lander Philae on a comet.
The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has been commissioned by the World Bank to investigate Pakistan’s potential for the exploitation of solar energy. DLR researchers will be using satellite data and ground measurements to generate a radiation map showing the best regions for solar power generation in Pakistan.
Among the most interesting landforms on Mars are features referred to as 'chaotic terrain'. Dozens or even hundreds of isolated mountains up to 2000 metres high are scattered in these extensive regions. Seen from orbit, they form a bizarre, chaotic pattern.
The Dii (Desertec Industrial Initiative) has been dissolved in its current form, and will now only continue to exist as a consultancy firm. Robert Pitz-Paal, Director of DLR's Institute of Solar Research, explains his view of how the idea of power generation using solar thermal power plants in sunny regions will continue to develop.
The radar satellite TerraSAR-X has been orbiting the Earth since June 2007; in June 2010 its twin, TanDEM-X, followed it into space. For almost four years, the two satellites have been operated in a close flight formation by DLR.
Volcanic ash can cause serious problems for aviation. Under Project VolcATS-Vehicle, researchers from DLR are investigating the effects of volcanic ash on aircraft.
Thunderclouds over rainforests are an important element in the climate system. The DLR research aircraft HALO spent the period from the beginning of September to the beginning of October 2014 in Manaus, a city in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, measuring the emergence, development and properties of tropical clouds.
In mid September, the site where the Philae lander will touch down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was selected – landing site 'J'. Now, there is a detailed timetable for the descent of Philae. The lander will undock from the Rosetta spacecraft at 09:35 CET on 12 November 2014 at a distance of approximately 22.5 kilometres from the centre of the comet and land on the surface about seven hours later.
Since the Icelandic volcano system of Bardarbunga began erupting, concerns about a volcanic ash cloud spreading across Europe and bringing air traffic to a standstill, as occurred in April 2010, have arisen once again. To enable the aviation industry to respond to volcanic ash more flexibly in the future, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) has been developing an improved satellite-supported volcanic ash detection system as part of Project VolcATS (Volcanic Ash Impact on the Air Transport System). DLR researchers are using improved views of the situation to investigate how air traffic management can adapt flexibly to large-scale airspace restrictions caused by volcanic ash
Aircraft engine noise is a socially pressing issue with a wide range of causes. Until now, turbulent fluctuations in the exhaust gas stream have not been fully understood as one of the major sources of noise. Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have now managed to make these turbulent flow structures in the engine exhaust gases visible using imaging laser measurement technology, and they have measured the overall flow behind the engine with unprecedented quality. Future generations of engines will be able to benefit from this new knowledge.
The 2014 harvest season is coming to an end, and throughout Germany the signs are of good yields for wheat, corn and similar crops. But the differences are large depending on the location. Hence, for optimum cultivation, it is important to be constantly aware of the condition of the soil and the crops. Radar images are particularly suitable for providing large-scale observations – using an aircraft or a satellite.
To support the safety of air transport and improve the air traffic system's response times in the critical event of a volcanic eruption, the identification of ash-free airspace is essential. At DLR, a satellite-supported procedure has been developed that rapidly determines the distribution of ash in the air and generates detailed images of areas with both heavy and light ash loads.
On 20 April 2014, the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on the ESA Mars Express spacecraft, which is operated by DLR, imaged the northern part of the enormous Argyre Planitia impact basin in the southern hemisphere of Mars. At that time, it was deep winter in the area, as can easily be seen from the ground frost covering the interior of Hooke Crater and large sections of the landscape in the image.
The lava outflow on the Holuhraun field northeast of Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano continues unabated. The lava field has grown to cover an area greater than 25 square kilometres.