By the time the signal is analysed by scientists at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), it will have travelled roughly 400,000 kilometres and passed through Earth's atmosphere.
Situated at a favourable, stable distance from its star and having liquid water on its surface – this is what the planets that scientists involved in the Planetary Transits and Oscillations of Stars (PLATO) mission seek to discover outside of the Solar System. An international consortium under the leadership of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) will search for this 'second Earth'. The space telescope that the European Space Agency (ESA) selected from among five proposed missions on 19 February 2014 is scheduled to launch in 2024. "This unique European space telescope, designed to search for exoplanets, will enable German and European scientists to engage in truly cutting-edge research in this field of astronomy," says DLR Executive Board Chairman Johann-Dietrich Wörner.
A labyrinthine mine, dimly lit and a dusty environment – the researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) chose a particularly difficult location to test their flying robot.
The concrete tube stretching across the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) site in Trauen might only be 3.3 metres wide, but every now and then it becomes outer space for around 10 seconds.
Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) are driven by the desire to improve life on Earth. Among other things, they are working on aircraft that one day will produce less noise emissions and run on alternative fuels, while their more efficient turbines emit fewer pollutants. But DLR researchers are not simply concerned with improving airborne mobility, they also have their feet firmly on the ground, helping us reach our destinations in fast and green transportation, for instance in electric vehicles. And talking about transport, in May 2014 astronaut Alexander Gerst, is scheduled to embark on a six-month journey on board the ISS, where he will conduct numerous experiments in various fields, including biology and medicine, to name just two, that will contribute to improving life here on Earth. Alexander Gerst's mission – Blue Dot – expresses this desire. Viewed from far away in space, the Earth resembles an azure, vulnerable speck. The Rosetta spacecraft will send a wealth of new data back to Earth as it chases a comet, venturing deep into space during 2014. The European spacecraft will reach its destination, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, after around 10 years of travel. One of the highlights will be the landing of Philae on November 2014. DLR played a major role in building the craft and operates the lander from its control centre in Cologne.
For ten days, 74 scientists and tourists were trapped in the Antarctic on board the Russian Akademik Shokalskiy research vessel. Strong winds had driven ice floes into a bay, blocking the ship's advancement.
It is the beginning of a new astrometric age – from now until 2018, Gaia, the new European Space Agency (ESA) space observatory, will measure the positions, distances and motion of over one billion stars and, for the first time, create a 3D map of the Milky Way.
On 20 January 2014, the Rosetta spacecraft will awake from its 957-day hibernation in interplanetary space – and with it, the Philae lander. Rosetta is a mission of ESA, with a strong involvement of DLR, which has played a major role in the construction and operation of Philae.
Ten days, seven hours and 47 minutes – this was the duration of Ulf Merbold's first experience in space, which began on 28 November 1983, when the Space Shuttle Columbia delivered him to Earth orbit.
On Friday 22 November at 13:02 CET (12:02 GMT) the three European SWARM satellites were lifted into orbit from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia by a Rockot launch vehicle. The mission will take high accuracy measurements of Earth's magnetic field, expanding our knowledge of the processes at work in Earth's interior as well as in near-Earth space.
Floating water droplets, a Canadian astronaut singing his own version of David Bowie's ‘Major Tom’, spacewalks, or beautiful views of Earth from the Cupola – the images that reach Earth from the International Space Station (ISS) never cease to surprise. Things were different 15 years ago; on this very day, 20 November 1998, the first component of the ISS was launched. This ‘heavenly’ construction began with the Russian Zarya module, a cargo and control module. Today, six astronauts live and work 365 days a year in the space research laboratory. Also on board are numerous experiments supported by scientists at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) or funded by the DLR Space Administration.
Working in shifts around the clock, staff at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, DLR) have produced their first maps of the Philippine disaster areas based on satellite image data.
On 12 November 2013, after two exciting and eventful days, the DLR SpaceBot Cup drew to an end with no clear winner and no real loser. "All 10 teams were highly motivated and came up with innovative, technical solutions. All participants deserve to be congratulated!
A team of astrophysicists at DLR, together with German and other European colleagues, has discovered the most extensive planetary system to date. Seven planets circle the star KOI-351 – more than in other known planetary systems.
On 1 October 2013, Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc., subsidiary of Teledyne Technologies Incorporated, and DLR signed a memorandum of agreement to develop an instrument for the Multi-User System for Earth Sensing (MUSES), which will be mounted on the ISS.
When German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst flies to the ISS in May 2014, his daily work will include conducting experiments. One of these experiments will involve analysing how soap bubbles behave in a microgravity environment and whether sound waves can set them in motion.
On 11 May 2011, the camera on board the Dawn spacecraft acquired its first picture of the asteroid Vesta. Despite its diameter of 530 kilometres, this heavenly body appeared as no more than a white dot in the image – at that time, the spacecraft was still 975,000 kilometres away from its destination.
Aerospace research covers a broad spectrum of activities – missions to celestial bodies are just as much a part of it as checking the health of astronauts or experimenting in microgravity on parabolic flights.
Officially, the German radar satellite TerraSAR-X should have been out of service for over a year and a half – that's how long it has exceeded its intended lifespan. But engineers at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have switched the satellite, which was launched to space on 15 June 2007, to yet another mode: TerraSAR-X can now record image strips over 200 kilometres wide. "The satellite does so by sweeping this large area in multiple stages, very quickly pivoting the radar beam numerous times across the direction of flight," explains DLR mission manager Stefan Buckreuss. For example, the image of the German Bight shows the Frisian Islands from Borkum to Wangerooge and cities such as Wilhelmshaven and Bremen. This new ‘wide-angle’ mode is of particular interest to oceanographers, who will be able to use it to investigate the tidal range, changes to mudflats, shipping movements, wave patterns, ice floes and wind levels.
On 20 August 2013, 12 space agencies, among them the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), published the second version of a Global Exploration Roadmap.