The asteroid 16 Psyche is the target of the NASA Discovery Programme's 14th mission. The eponymous robotic mission will be launched in 2023 and will explore a metallic asteroid for the first time in order to gain further knowledge about the formation of the Solar System and especially about the structure and development of planetary bodies.
A test simulating crashes between high-speed trains, hunting for clouds in West Africa, the maiden flight of a four-passenger fuel cell aircraft – 2016 at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has been a year of numerous research highlights.
The Occator crater on the dwarf planet Ceres is a real eye-catcher: with a diameter of 92 kilometres, it is larger than Tycho crater on the Moon – which appears like a bright spot when seen with the naked eye. The Occator crater's steep walls stand tall at over 2000 metres, higher than the North face of the Eiger in the Bernese Alps.
The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) will send the 'Mole' HP3 (Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package) to Mars on board the United States InSight Mission on 5 May 2018 to conduct heat flow measurements. And it has just received good news: the landing site in the plains of Elysium Planitia most probably has a heat flow that is classified average, and will therefore be representative of Mars as a whole.
Approximately 600 kilometres long and up to two kilometres deep, Mawrth Vallis is a dried-up outflow channel on our planetary neighbour Mars. The High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) operated by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) on board ESA's Mars Express spacecraft has imaged the valley in high resolution.
For the first time in the history of space exploration, scientists at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have demonstrated in a real space experiment how a satellite can approach a counterpart by fully autonomously, making use of only optical or vision-based navigation.
The Rosetta mission reached the end of its observation phase in late September when the orbiter touched down spectacularly on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gersimenko. By then, it had spent 4595 days in space, and had travelled 7.9 billion kilometres, performed a total of six fly-bys past Earth, Mars and two asteroids and accompanied Comet 67P during its journey through the Solar System on a mission lasting more than two years.
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.
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.
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.