Human beings do not always retain the same level of dexterity in a weightless environment as they would on Earth – not even with practice. This is a familiar, yet still mysterious, phenomenon encountered in human spaceflight: what is the reason for the reduced hand-to-eye coordination in space, and what can be done to compensate these performance deficits?
At 10:30 Central European Time (CET) on 8 November 2016, the HEROS3 (Hybrid Experimental Rocket Stuttgart) research rocket was successfully launched from the Esrange Space Centre in Sweden to great enthusiasm from the students. Reaching an altitude of 30 kilometres, it set a new European altitude record for student rockets.
The menu for polar explorers in the Antarctic is not usually very exciting. Often, there are only durable goods, especially in the polar winter, when the researchers are cut off from the outside world for months.
A unique experiment – with a very special goal – has been devised by the German Space Operations Center (GSOC) of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). The AVANTI experiment (Autonomous Visual Approach Navigation and Target Identification) is intended to demonstrate how a satellite can detect a spacecraft in space and approach it autonomously.
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 the western part of Acheron Fossae, a network of fractures on Mars.
Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have set a new record in data transmission using laser: 1.72 terabits per second across a distance of 10.45 kilometres, which is equivalent to the transmission of 45 DVDs per second.
Showcasing and promoting outstanding and innovative concepts for applications of satellite navigation and Earth observation are the objectives of the 'European Satellite Navigation Competition' (ESNC) and 'Copernicus Masters', two ideas competitions.
Starting 24 October 2016, a four-week 'space mission' will take place in Utah's semi-desert: this field test programme of the Field Trials Utah (FT-Utah) project is focusing on the SherpaTT Rover and Coyote III. In the impassable, Mars-like test area not far from the small town of Hanksville in the south of the US state, the robots will have to undergo endurance and stress tests and should also successfully complete a mock-up mission scenario.
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.
More than 1.5 million children and their families in over 130 countries around the world are currently receiving support from the humanitarian aid organisation SOS Children's Villages International. The Centre for Satellite Based Crisis Information (ZKI) at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) site in Oberpfaffenhofen is supporting the organisation by establishing emergency and disaster management concepts in order to provide effective assistance in the event of natural disasters, such as floods, earthquakes or forest fires.
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.