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).
When it comes to the best views of Earth, weather satellites usually have front-row seats. But now, and until 30 December 2016, everyone can enjoy this very special view of the Blue Planet at the Gasometer Oberhausen. The highlight of the 'Wonders of Nature' exhibit is a terrestrial globe 20 metres in diameter hovering from the 100-metre high tower of this imposing industrial monument.
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.
On 25 February 2016, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) signed an ‘Inter Agency Arrangement for Strategic Partnership’ at the German Embassy in Tokyo, Japan. With this arrangement, both partners intend to jointly undertake the new role of space agencies and significantly contribute to the advancement of the world's space development.
Sailing in the regions that polar researcher Arved Fuchs is currently navigating in his ship 'Dagmar Aaen' is a not an easy task. The 'Ocean Change' expedition is travelling around the Antarctic Peninsula, stopping off at a number of research stations to investigate how climate change is impacting the local environment.
To communicate with one another, ships use radio, light signals or flags –but these channels are not suitable for transmitting large volumes of data. Only expensive satellite communications systems can enable data transfer at higher rates.
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).
The first component of Europe's 'Data Highway in Space' has been launched. The initial node of the European Data Relay System (EDRS), carried on board the Eutelsat commercial telecommunications satellite Eutelsat 9B, took off en-route to geostationary orbit – 36,000 kilometres above Earth – on 29 January 2016 at 23:20 CET from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The dwarf planet Ceres would be quite an uncomfortable place if one were to actually stand on its surface – with a rather 'chilly' temperature of minus 60 degrees Celsius by day, which gets colder during the night. Hard, frozen ground and craters spanning kilometres – in all shapes and sizes.
On 23 January 2016, five German science experiments travelled on board a German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), TEXUS sounding rocket, to take a 'short trip' in microgravity.
With its research and management divisions, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) contributes to the solution of global challenges. The work includes not only the reduction of emissions caused by air transport, but also highly automated travel for the mobility of the future, cost-effective energy storage solutions and environmental monitoring for the protection of the atmosphere.
A comet is largely composed of water ice and water vapour predominates in its 'atmosphere' – the coma that forms as it nears the Sun. However, very few examples of water ice have previously been observed on the surface of a comet.
Currently just 385 kilometres away from the surface, the Dawn spacecraft is orbiting Ceres and acquiring images that show the dwarf planet at an unprecedented resolution of just 35 metres per pixel. These images allow scientists to look at a surface strewn with craters, fractures, domes and bright areas.
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.
Although it is a simple gesture of greeting, it nevertheless remains an extraordinary moment; a handshake between an astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS) and researchers from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR).
Arable land disappeared from city centres, where most people live, many years ago. Nowadays, food is transported over long distances before reaching the consumer. Researchers from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have now joined with international partners to create 'Vertical Farm 2.0', which will enable the multi-level cultivation of plants in large cities.
On Tuesday 8 December at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference COP 21 in Paris, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the French space agency (CNES) met to reaffirm their commitment to jointly develop the MEthane Remote sensing LIdar missioN (MERLIN) satellite that is set to measure concentrations of methane in Earth's atmosphere with unprecedented accuracy.
The science and technology demonstrator LISA Pathfinder lifted off from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on board a Vega rocket at 05:04 CET on 3 December 2015. Preparations for this European Space Agency (ESA) mission, which places unprecedented requirements on both payload and spacecraft, have lasted more than 10 years.
Mobile telephones, high-speed Internet, up-to-date meteorological data and navigation programs available anytime, anywhere – all thanks to satellites. Bandwidth and frequencies that are revised every three to four years at the World Radiocommunication Conference play an important role in this.
The dwarf planet Ceres measured a mere nine pixels across on an image acquired by NASA's Dawn orbiter on 1 December 2014. Since then, the planetary researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have received thousands of images showing the dwarf planet and its unusually varied surface.