In Walt Disney's comic book "Donald Duck", Gyro Gearloose has a little helper - an electric bulb with two legs - always at his side to serve him. Although Alin Albu-Schäffer has yet to come up with a walking light bulb like that - a presence that is always close by, ready to accept instructions and to assist people - his research work is clearly guided by a similar vision. Albu-Schäffer is a Department Head at the Robotics and Mechatronics Center of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and is involved in the development of robots for use in space, industry and medicine.
"Surprise!" – Alan Harris loves this word. It really suits the character and profession of this 58-year old British scientist. With a Doctorate in Physics, this 'Senior Scientist' at the Berlin-based DLR Institute of Planetary Research works in the 'Asteroids and Comets' department. As a scientist, he knows that his research will always lead him to surprises and questions. "I'll find that out at a later date – right now it's still unknown to me," he says with a grin.
"Hard work, great fun, not much sleep, but really fascinating". This is how Jens Heider describes his time in the USA. Just a short while ago, he was receiving training at the National Test Pilot School in the Mojave Desert. Whenever he talks about it, his eyes light up. On 12 different aircraft, he learned how to plan and evaluate flight tests, and how to fly each one of them. This is the 10h portrait in a series on the DLR Web Portal.
One day, we will be able to refuel with solar energy – that is the vision of Martina Neises; and that is what she is working on. As a postgraduate student working towards a doctorate in solar research at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne, she is researching a process that uses solar energy to produce hydrogen. The first steps along this path have already been successfully taken by DLR scientists together with partners from other research facilities and industry. Martina Neises simply wants to improve the process.
There has been a breath of fresh air in the Göttingen Institute of Propulsion Technology of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) since July 2008. That is when Ingo Röhle took over the Turbine Department at the oldest DLR site. In a year, the young professor has set a great many things in motion, both as regards staff and structurally – the team and order volume of the department has grown. Part eight of the DLR Web Portal portrait series presents the scientist Ingo Röhle.
Stefan Ratke is 25 years old. He successfully completed his apprenticeship in precision toolmaking at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) in the summer of 2009. Today, he works as a mechanical technician at DLR's Engineering Systems House, a facility for engineering and integrated manufacturing of scientific equipment at DLR Cologne. This is part seven of the DLR Web Portal portrait series.
Frank Schreckenbach is currently working on a project at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) to allow air passengers to surf the Internet while the pilot is simultaneously downloading to the onboard computer the latest weather information for his approach – while complying with all the safety regulations applying in the aviation industry. However, anyone who wants to network the sky must not just be a researcher – they must also manage their project internationally.
Dr Edith Maurer and Alessandro Codazzi are young, at ease and laugh a lot. They do a job which carries a great deal of responsibility: as a team, the two control the German TerraSAR-X radar satellite from the German Space Operations Centre (GSOC) located at the German Aerospace Centre (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen. No signal leaves the control room and heads towards the satellite without their approval – and mutual coordination.
The door to the examination room opens and ophthalmologist Dr Claudia Stern hurries across the hall of the aerospace medicine examination centre in the Institute of Aerospace Medicine, part of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). She quickly fetches a test frame that is needed to complete the eye test for a prospective glider pilot. Experienced astronauts, private and career pilots, balloonists, airship pilots and glider pilots always come to Claudia Stern when they have to prove that they are fit to undertake aeronautical activities.
"When the aircraft enters weightless conditions and you are lifted up from the floor and start to float, huge amounts of excitement hormones are released in your body", enthuses Dr Ulrike Friedrich. In her capacity as manager for parabolic flights at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), she is in a position to award this feeling of exhilaration to scientists, by selecting their research proposal for inclusion in a parabolic flight campaign. This is the third in a series of portraits on the DLR Web Portal.