The European Space Agency's (ESA) Venus Express mission has provided a great amount of data from the surface and atmosphere of Earth's inner twin planet. Among these observations was the mapping of the southern hemisphere of Venus in the near infrared spectral range using the VIRTIS (Visible and InfraRed Thermal Imaging Spectrometer) instrument.
The German satellite duo TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X have consistently delivered one-of-a-kind Earth observation data since 2007 and 2010, hence shaping the international research landscape. Now, scientific users from across the globe have gathered for the TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X Science Meeting at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen, where they will discuss the results obtained from the data and define requirements for future remote sensing technology.
Since 14 March 2016, the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and the Schiaparelli lander have been flying together towards Mars for the ESA ExoMars mission. On 16 October 2016, the journey to the Martian surface begins for the lander, while the TGO will enter orbit around Mars.
These images, acquired by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) operated by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) on board the European Mars Express spacecraft, show structures that formed as a result of glacial activity in the Colles Nili region.
On 5 October 2016 at 15:33 CEST, the research balloon BEXUS 22 took off from the Esrange Space Center, near Kiruna, Sweden, en route to the stratosphere. BEXUS 23 is scheduled to be launched on 6 October.
The new three-dimensional map of Earth has been completed. Mountain peaks and valley floors across the globe can now be seen with an accuracy of just one metre. The global elevation model was created as part of the TanDEM-X satellite mission; it offers unprecedented accuracy compared with other global datasets and is based on a uniform database.
On 30 September 2016 at 13:19 CEST, the final signal from the Rosetta orbiter was received back on Earth. The ESA mission ended when the spacecraft touched down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The international team of scientists had already said their farewells to the Philae lander back in February 2016, when its prolonged radio silence indicated that it would no longer report back to the team in the control centre at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR).
The Philae landing craft touched down on comet on 12 November 2014. It has now been found: it is not located at the convenient site originally selected for its landing, but rather – following a series of three bounces – in a grim and dark environment.
What do the Moon and Mount Etna have in common? An extreme surface as well as extreme conditions. Twenty-one scientists from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) are using the harsh conditions on the volcano to test technologies for future Solar System exploration missions.
METimage, a new satellite instrument for weather and climate forecasting, is now entering its final phase. On 20 September 2016, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and Airbus Defence and Space signed an agreement for the design, construction and testing of the radiometer.
With a diameter of 20 metres, Earth appears to float above visitors to the Gasometer Oberhausen, while banks of clouds, days and nights – and even rain showers – flow across its surface. Over half a million people have already visited the 'Wonders of Nature' exhibition, making this display in the old industrial monument one of this year's most popular exhibitions.
On 14 September 2016 in Berlin, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the French space agency (Centre national d'études spatiales; CNES) signed a cooperation agreement for the design, construction and operational phases of the Franco-German climate satellite MERLIN in the presence of Brigitte Zypries, Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and Federal Coordinator of German Aerospace Policy, as well as Thierry Mandon, French Minister of State for Higher Education and Research.
On 9 September 2016 at 13:00 CEST, the BIROS (Bi-Spectral Infrared Optical System) fire detection satellite developed and built by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) released BEESAT-4 (Berlin Educational and Experimental Picosatellite) into space 515 kilometres above the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago.
Four days and four cases that pose a threat to maritime security – in several scenarios that took place between 5 and 9 September 2016, the EMSec joint project (Echtzeitdienste für die Maritime Sicherheit - Security; Real-Time Services for Maritime Security) was able to successfully demonstrate research findings from the last three years.
A network of huge fractures covers Utopia Planitia – a buried impact basin measuring 2000 kilometres in the Martian Northern Lowlands, which was the destination of the United States Viking 2 lander in 1976. These surface structures, which are referred to as polygons, would suggest that there was once an ocean here.
The comet lander Philae has been found. The OSIRIS camera on board the Rosetta orbiter took the revealing images of the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 2 September 2016. They show the landing craft lying sideways in a crevasse. Two of the three landing legs are clearly visible.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has finally confirmed the new launch date for the InSight mission, with the first launch opportunity to the Red Planet set for 5 May 2018. The mission was in fact scheduled for launch in March 2016, and land on Mars six months later.
In the Situation Centre, an alarm flashes on the screen – a passenger ferry has changed its planned course for no apparent reason. The AIS (Automatic Identification System) signal eventually disappears from the display. By now, all ship-specific information must have been requested and compared in order to quickly clarify the situation and take immediate action.
Headaches, nausea or even swollen hands and feet: the test subjects currently ascending at a rapid pace to Europe’s highest building to voluntarily experience altitude sickness have all of these things coming their way. Ten test subjects will gather at the Margherita Hut in the Valais Alps in Italy, where their bodies will be closely monitored to see how they respond to an altitude of 4554 metres above sea level, oxygen depletion and low air pressure. “If astronauts are stationed in a Mars habitat some time in the future, it is extremely probable that they will live and work in an atmosphere with similar pressure conditions,” explains Ulrich Limper, the mission’s medical director from the German Aerospace Center (DLR). “As things stand, though, we are unable to predict which persons will experience altitude sickness and what the causes may be.” A possible explanation: “The oxygen depletion encountered at high altitudes damages the vascular barrier, allowing fluid and proteins to seep into the connective tissue. In some instances, this will produce dangerous oedema in the body, especially in the lungs and the brain.”
These images, acquired by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC), on board the European Mars Express spacecraft, operated by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), show part of the Meridiani Planum region.