Whoever wants a glimpse of the future of our climate has to cast his eyes upward. Almost into outer space, up some 100 kilometres, at night. Then the consequences of global warming become rapidly evident. For years the German Aerospace Center (DLR) has been monitoring the temperature of the atmosphere at this altitude and analysing the changes—in order to improve climate models and to detect natural disasters early, like flooding, earthquakes and tsunami. The "base camp" for measurements is Germany‘s highest research station, the Schneefernerhaus Environmental Research Station (UFS) on Zugspitze mountain.
The German Aerospace Center's (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) mobile rocket base MORABA launched the MAPHEUS-5 high-altitude research rocket at 06:55 CEST on 30 June 2015, carrying four DLR experiments on board. The 12-metre-high, two-stage rocket took off from the Swedish Esrange Space Center and ascended to an altitude of 253 kilometres – taking only 74 seconds to reach a state of microgravity lasting over six minutes, which was used to conduct experiments from the fields of material physics and biology.
The International Space Station (ISS) offers a unique opportunity to conduct research in microgravity. Its newest research system – the PK-4 plasma crystal laboratory – has now begun scientific operations in the Columbus module.
There are just 188 known meteorite craters worldwide. Some span a mere 10 metres, while others extend across 160 kilometres and are significantly more impressive. They all share a common history – an object from outer space must hit the Earth travelling at least 11 kilometres per second, or 39,000 kilometres per hour, to leave behind an impact crater.
For accurate weather forecasts and improved climate models, it is crucial to capture data about the winds over the North Atlantic as precisely as possible. Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have developed a prototype of a wind lidar (light detection and ranging) that is scheduled for deployment on a new European Space Agency (ESA) weather satellite in late 2016.
The Greenland ice sheet is, in places, more than three kilometres thick and a crucial feature in climate modelling. Scientists of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), together with colleagues from ETH Zurich (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich), are currently conducting tests of new radar imaging methods in a research flight campaign over Greenland initiated by the Microwaves and Radar Institute in cooperation with the Danish Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organization (DALO).
How is the ozone layer changing? What is the distribution of trace gases in Earth's atmosphere? How are forests, coastlines, landmasses and polar regions changing on a global scale?
The German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD) of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Neustrelitz was the first station worldwide outside the ESA core ground segment to acquire and process Sentinel-1 data. The radar data from this Copernicus satellite are being processed in near-real-time and used by DLR’s Maritime Safety Research Department in Neustrelitz and Bremen for such purposes as the automatic detection of ships and oil leaks and to derive wind, wave and ice parameters. The undergirding development work is being co-financed by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy and the State of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is hosting the 36th International Symposium on Remote Sensing of the Environment (ISRSE) in Berlin from 11 to 15 May 2015. Earth observation satellites ensure that changes to Earth are documented and fundamental information on the weather and climate, biodiversity and the ecosystem, sustainable agriculture and forestry, mineral resources and resource consumption, and water and air quality is provided. Satellite data can also provide support in the event of crises and natural disasters. The German radar satellites TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X play an important role in this.
TEXUS 51 was launched into space from the Esrange Space Center near Kiruna in northern Sweden on 23 April 2015 at 09:35 CEST. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) research rocket carried four German biology and materials science experiments to an altitude of 259 kilometres.