A new wireless satellite, innovative laser communication technology for space, a universal adapter for spaceflight – these are just some of the winning entries in the first INNOspace Masters competition run by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Space Administration. Using the slogan ‘Satellite 4.0’, the ideas competition called for the development of new proposals and concepts for the future of space (New Space Economy).
The images presented here, 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 Space Agency (ESA) Mars Express spacecraft, show part of the Memnonia Fossae region on Mars.
Two eyes are better than one; this principle is also true for the two radar satellites that make up the Sentinel-1 mission. On 25 April 2016 at 23:02 CEST, the Sentinel-1B Earth observation satellite lifted off from Europe's spaceport in French Guiana on board a Soyuz launch vehicle.
On 8 April 2016, at 22:43 CEST, the German SPHEROIDS experiment was launched to the ISS in a Dragon capsule on board a Falcon 9 rocket of the US aerospace company SpaceX.
A diameter of 2200 kilometres and a depth of up to nine kilometres: these are the dimensions of the largest impact crater on Mars – Hellas. Only the Moon's South Pole-Aitken Basin and the Valhalla structure on Jupiter's moon, Callisto, have a similar size.
The dwarf planet Ceres is becoming an increasingly mysterious – and exciting – celestial body as the planetary researchers working on the Dawn mission acquire more and more details. The contrast-enhanced true colours show a bluish material around several craters and mountain slopes.
On 14 March 2016 at 10:31 CET, the ExoMars 2016 mission of the European Space Agency, ESA, and the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, lifted off from the Russian Cosmodrome in Baikonur towards Mars. On board the Proton rocket were the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and the Schiaparelli landing demonstrator (Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module; EDM).
Spaceflight is undergoing significant change. To be successful in the long term, spaceflight must be actively developed, new markets have to be exploited, and the opportunities offered by innovative technologies need to be seized. Which space propulsion systems are visionary, which are realistic, and which are sustainable?
When it comes to the best views of Earth, weather satellites usually have front-row seats. But now, and until 30 December 2016, everyone can enjoy this very special view of the Blue Planet at the Gasometer Oberhausen. The highlight of the 'Wonders of Nature' exhibit is a terrestrial globe 20 metres in diameter hovering from the 100-metre high tower of this imposing industrial monument.
In December 2015, the Mars mission InSight was put on hold, but it has now been provisionally scheduled to launch to the Red Planet at the next opportunity – in May 2018. Technical difficulties with one of the two main experiments – the seismometer – had led to the US space agency, NASA, cancelling the launch that had been planned for March 2016. Now, a decision has been made – the mission has been given a reprieve, and a new launch date in two years' time.
The earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, the tsunami in Japan in 2011 that was triggered by an undersea earthquake, and the severe floods that, time and again, affect countries such as India and Bangladesh give rise to the question of how Earth observation satellites could help detect and study natural disasters in a more effective way.
On 25 February 2016, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) signed an ‘Inter Agency Arrangement for Strategic Partnership’ at the German Embassy in Tokyo, Japan. With this arrangement, both partners intend to jointly undertake the new role of space agencies and significantly contribute to the advancement of the world's space development.
When looking at the large-scale topography along the equator of Mars, what truly stands out are the many, extremely wide drainage channels leading north without many lateral inflows. The smaller valley systems are not so noticeable in these images. They often have multiple branches and meander across the terrain. Such valley systems can be found on Earth. Arda Valles in the Martian highlands is a good example of such a drainage system.
Sailing in the regions that polar researcher Arved Fuchs is currently navigating in his ship 'Dagmar Aaen' is a not an easy task. The 'Ocean Change' expedition is travelling around the Antarctic Peninsula, stopping off at a number of research stations to investigate how climate change is impacting the local environment.
To communicate with one another, ships use radio, light signals or flags –but these channels are not suitable for transmitting large volumes of data. Only expensive satellite communications systems can enable data transfer at higher rates.
The last prolonged silence had already indicated that contact with the Philae lander will be increasingly unlikely, and the conditions on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko have become more hostile. "Unfortunately, the probability of Philae re-establishing contact with our team at the DLR Lander Control Center (LCC) is almost zero, and we will no longer be sending any commands; it would be very surprising if we received a signal now," said Stephan Ulamec Philae Project Manager of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR).
Entering a planetary atmosphere is one of the most critical mission phases for a spacecraft. The enormous amount of heat generated not only places heavy thermal loads on the material of the re-entry vehicle, it also gives rise to an electrically charged plasma that flows around it. This blocks radio signals, with the result that the spacecraft is unable to communicate with its ground stations for several minutes. In a joint project, researchers at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) are working with colleagues at Stanford University in California to find a solution to this problem.
The first component of Europe's 'Data Highway in Space' has been launched. The initial node of the European Data Relay System (EDRS), carried on board the Eutelsat commercial telecommunications satellite Eutelsat 9B, took off en-route to geostationary orbit – 36,000 kilometres above Earth – on 29 January 2016 at 23:20 CET from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The dwarf planet Ceres would be quite an uncomfortable place if one were to actually stand on its surface – with a rather 'chilly' temperature of minus 60 degrees Celsius by day, which gets colder during the night. Hard, frozen ground and craters spanning kilometres – in all shapes and sizes.
Directly to the west of the gigantic graben system of Valles Marineris on Mars, lies a no less impressive region called Noctis Labyrinthus – the Labyrinth of the Night. It consists of a labyrinth of intersecting valleys and canyons up to six kilometres deep. Extending over 1200 kilometres east to west, it is almost the same length as the River Rhine.