2014 was an extraordinarily eventful and exciting year at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). The landing on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and the mission by German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst were undisputed highlights. But the research conducted in other areas was extremely diverse, and sought to find answers to questions in the fields of aeronautics, aerospace, energy, transport and security.
Road congestion is a fact of everyday life for many people. A possible solution for the future is expanding personal transport to include aviation. High above the roads, the routes become much more flexible, and travellers can reach their destinations faster.
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.
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.
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.
Bardarbunga, (Bárðarbunga) in Iceland, one of the largest volcanoes in Europe and located beneath the biggest glacier in Europe, became active again in mid-August. For several years now, DLR researchers have been keeping a close eye on Bardarbunga and the system of volcanoes associated with it – an enormous network of subterranean magma channels, vents and craters.
The flight plans of DLR until 23 July include some unusual flight tests. During extremely low-level passes across the grounds of Magdeburg/Cochstedt Airport, the A320 ATRA will collect insects for aerodynamic research.
Atmospheric gravity waves influence the weather and long-term, climate-related atmospheric processes. For a number of nights between 29 June and 23 July 2014, the DLR Falcon research aircraft will be flying over the New Zealand Alps (Southern Alps) to investigate how these waves propagate from Earth's surface up to an altitude of around 100 kilometres using modern laser metrology and other instruments.
Scientists at DLR Göttingen have achieved a world first – showing the deformation of an aircraft propeller blade during flight. They have developed a special camera that can resist the enormous forces exerted during rotation.
In time for the start of the Berlin Air Show (Internationale Luft- und Raumfahrtausstellung; ILA) and coming straight from joint flight trials with NASA in Palmdale, California, the DLR Falcon 20 E research aircraft landed at the Berlin Show Ground.
At the 2014 Berlin Air Show (Internationale Luft- und Raumfahrtausstellung; ILA), the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is showcasing its research results for the aerospace of tomorrow with more than 60 exhibits on the DLR stand (Hall 4), in the Space Pavilion and in the Career Center. DLR's research aircraft and helicopters will be on show in the outdoor display area.
Biofuels provide an opportunity to lower the carbon dioxide footprint of air travel and to reduce the potential climatic effects of particle emissions and enhanced cloudiness by aviation.
From 20 to 25 May 2014, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) will be at the Berlin Air Show (Internationale Luft- und Raumfahrtausstellung; ILA), presenting numerous concepts for more sustainable, safer and comfortable air travel. In the outdoor area at the air show, DLR will be exhibiting a number of its research aircraft, including the Falcon 20E atmospheric research aircraft. The Space Pavilion, designed by DLR in collaboration with its partners, will be showcasing the TORO walking robot and a number of current European space missions.
An international group of researchers has succeeded in producing the world's first jet fuel from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide in the SOLAR-JET (Solar chemical reactor demonstration and Optimization for Long-term Availability of Renewable JET fuel) project.
To fly once around the world, across continents and oceans – powered by the Sun; this is the unprecedented goal of the Solar Impulse project. The flying venture is expected to take place in 2015, using an extremely lightweight aircraft covered with solar cells and powered by four electrically driven propellers.
When in flight, aircraft generate turbulence behind them known as wake vortices, which can affect the air traffic that follows. DLR is currently testing a wake turbulence warning system in flight experiments using its ATRA and Falcon research aircraft.
The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has entered into an agreement with the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to conduct a series of joint research flights. During the flight tests, which will be headed by NASA, the emissions properties of alternative fuels and their effects on the climate and atmosphere will be studied. DLR will participate with its Falcon research aircraft in the approximately two-week-long air campaign. The start of the joint test flights as part of the ACCESS II (Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise emission) project is scheduled for 7 May 2014. The starting point for the flights will be the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California.
Unanswered questions about the formation of clouds and their impact on the climate are currently setting limitations on the validity of global climate forecasts. To make a detailed analysis of the climate effects of natural ice clouds and the vapour trails created by air traffic, the HALO research aircraft embarked on the first of a total of 12 measurement flights on 24 March 2014.