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).
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.
A globally unique programme of field research has been designed to address the effect of aircraft noise on children's sleep. Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) will be conducting a study on the sleep patterns of a total of 50 children living in the vicinity of Cologne/Bonn Airport until 2018.
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 German Aerospace Center (DLR) is supporting the Indian power provider NTPC in its project to establish a research centre to test and develop solar power plants and their components. DLR researchers are supplying systems, measurement equipment and expertise, and are helping to select suitable power plant locations. The recently launched project will run for three years and is supported by the Kreditanstalt Development Bank (KfW) with funds provided by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety.
The last clear sign of life was received from Philae, the Rosetta mission's comet lander, on 9 July 2015; since then, it has remained silent. Now, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is moving away from the Sun and the temperature on the comet's surface and the amount of sunlight are both decreasing.
An important growth in passenger numbers is expected by 2030, according to the latest aviation report by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). In 2014, 105 million passengers were recorded in Germany, and scientists are predicting 175 million passengers for 2030. This represents an average annual increase of around 3.3 percent.
Energy researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have put into service an innovative thermal storage system that uses lime as the storage medium. The lime storage system is a further development of an initial prototype and can store energy more economically and efficiently.
Philae was more than 500 million kilometres from Earth when it touched down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko one year ago, on 12 November 2014. "We looked after and planned this mission for almost 20 years and launched the Rosetta orbiter and Philae lander on their journey through space – so landing day really was quite special," says Philae Project Manager Stephan Ulamec from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) to sum up the mood on the day.