On 18 September 2011, visitors to the DLR site in Cologne can reach for the stars and admire the Rhine Valley in 3D
'Encounter' a satellite in orbit, view the Moon and the Rhine Valley in 3D, board SOFIA, the airborne observatory, or visit the wind tunnel or astronaut training facility to experience the extreme conditions to which materials and people are exposed in space – these are just a few of the many space-related activities that the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) in Cologne will make available to the general public on 18 September 2011 between 10:00 and 18:00. At this, the 11th German Aerospace Day – held under the patronage of the German Federal Minister of Economics and Technology, Philipp Rösler - DLR, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) will be presenting exciting research projects from the aerospace, energy and transport sectors.
Space enthusiasts will be able to visit various DLR institutes and facilities to obtain information about the projects being carried out by the scientists who work there.
SOFIA - the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy – will make its first ever visit to Europe. It is an observatory installed in a Boeing 747 SP with which astronomers can fly at altitudes as high as 14 kilometres, above the water vapour in Earth's atmosphere, where they are able to conduct observations of the night sky not possible using ground-based telescopes. This joint project by the US space agency NASA and DLR is based in California; its science observation flights began in December 2010. Visitors to German Aerospace Day will be able to see and even board the aircraft while it is parked on Zulu Stand, a cordoned off area of Cologne-Bonn Airport.
Agile and healthy
Under the theme 'agile and healthy', the DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine will be opening the doors to several of its facilities, including the short-arm centrifuge, the physiology laboratory and the 'Biolab' biomedical laboratory. Visitors will also be able to learn about nutrition in space (Space Food), the effect of gravity and weightlessness on the human body, as well as about the applications of telemedicine. Institute staff members will be explaining these topics by conducting various experiments.
Technical staff involved in Simulation and Software Technology at DLR will be showcasing 'Medicine Apps and 3D Worlds' to visitors of all ages. Here, satellites can be 'captured' using joysticks and the Moon can be viewed in 3D. Visitors will be able to take their own blood pressure; the anonymous diagnostic data will then be transmitted via Bluetooth to a remote server – a vivid example of telemedicine.
Behind the scenes of the control rooms
In the Microgravity User Support Center (MUSC), DLR researchers will be showing visitors how the control rooms are used for space missions, with particular emphasis on information about the Rosetta comet mission and its Philae landing module. DLR has played a significant role in the construction of Philae and it also operates the Lander Control Centre, which has the difficult and never attempted task of preparing for, and then actually taking charge of, landing a spacecraft on the surface of a comet.
The Institute of Material Physics in Space will be exhibiting selected topics on the subject of 'Research in Microgravity' in two tents. The first of these tents will be located beside Building 21. The hands-on experiments here deal with the topics of levitation and aerogels. The levitation experiment involves melting metal under microgravity conditions. Aerogels are lightweight air-permeable solids that are used in, among other things, aerogel concrete – a versatile building material. Model rockets will be manufactured using a casting process on a 'core shooting machine' and then handed out to visitors. The second tent will be located close to DLR's parabolic flight aircraft, A300-Zero G, on Zulu Stand. Here, materials physicists will be showcasing an experiment involving granular materials under microgravity conditions, a test carried out on board the parabolic flight aircraft. This experiment seeks to answer why granulates behave differently than, for example, fluids and solids under microgravity conditions.
Eleven times faster than sound
Researchers at the DLR Institute of Aerodynamics and Flow Technology are using hypersonic wind tunnels to investigate how stable and heat-resistant a space capsule for a flight to Mars needs to be. These wind tunnels enable experiments to be conducted at up to 11 times the speed of sound; on German Aerospace Day, regular guided tours and demonstrations will be provided.
In the DLR tent, visitors will be able to view a 3D elevation model of the Rhine Valley with the Lorelei rock, created using data from the German Earth observation satellites TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X, and which depicts various features including climate change over time. Visitors will also be able to see the Robomobil, a robotic electric car developed by DLR, in action.
Experiments for children and more
DLR's laboratory for schoolchildren, the DLR_School_Lab , will be opening its doors on German Aerospace Day, particularly to children, who will be invited to take part in interesting and surprising hands-on experiments.
Other parties involved in organising German Aerospace Day are Cologne-Bonn Airport, the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) and ESA together with the EAC. The media partners are the TV and radio station WDR, the Cologne-based newspapers Stadt-Anzeiger and Phoenix as well as two trade journals, Flugrevue and Aerokurier.
Media representatives can register for German Aerospace Day using the accreditation form. Admission to all parts of the main programme is free of charge.