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.
The first tickets have already been sold to space tourists – the passengers, however, will not be as fit or healthy as astronauts, but rather people with greatly varying health conditions. This is why scientists at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and physicians from Witten/Herdecke University have come together to analyse the prevalent risks in a pilot study. Using a long-arm centrifuge, they subject participants to 15 minutes of the forces that space tourists would encounter during takeoff and landing. The aim of the study is to determine the influence of increased gravity on blood coagulation.
Gazing down from space, satellites have the best view of ice floes drifting, waves swelling restlessly, currents moving dangerously, the spread of oil slicks and the changing positions of ships. For this reason, researchers at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) analyse radar images or use satellites to receive ship signals. Now, DLR is pooling the research work conducted at its Remote Sensing Technology Institute and the Institute for Space Systems within the Research Centre for Maritime Safety in Bremen. DLR has set up additional research centres devoted to security on the oceans in Braunschweig, Neustrelitz and Oberpfaffenhofen
Everyday life is dominated by information. Constantly growing volumes of data have to be transported around the globe. Satellite telecommunications play an important role in ensuring that such data reaches its destination reliably.
For the first time, SOFIA – the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, has been deployed to the southern hemisphere. Based at the airport in Christchurch, New Zealand for three weeks, SOFIA will study celestial objects that are uniquely observable on southern flight routes.
Close to four minutes of microgravity prevailed in the sounding rocket MAPHEUS-4, which was launched on 15 July 2013 at 07:53 local time, from the Esrange Space Center in northern Sweden.
A short-arm centrifuge spins test subjects at six times Earth's gravity; a hypobaric chamber simulates an altitude of 5500 metres; and in the Psychology Laboratory a shuttle has to be docked with the International Space Station under stressful conditions.
Following severe flooding in northern India and Nepal, the Indian government activated the 'International Charter Space and Major Disasters' on 19 June 2013 at 10:30.
It will be a first: in 2018 the Japanese Hayabusa 2 Mission will feature an asteroid landing and will, for the first time, allow for data acquisition at various points of this kind of celestial body, assisted by MASCOT, the hopping landing craft developed by DLR.
Future developments in space travel and aviation are the main reasons why the German Aerospace Center (DLR) is attending the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget. From 17 - 23 June 2013 DLR will be present with 12 exhibits on a stand shared with the German Aerospace Industries Association (BDLI).
An A320 overflying Scotland was the first aircraft 'seen' from space by a new receiver from the German Aerospace Centre (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), proving that tracking aircraft from space is possible.
A special passenger was on board during the launch of ESA's fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), 'Albert Einstein', on 5 June 2013 at 23:52 CEST – the STEREX experiment, funded by the DLR Space Administration and the European Space Agency (ESA).
Grabens, dendritic valleys, lava flows and the highest known mountain in the Solar System – in the images from the German stereo camera on board the Mars Express spacecraft, the topography of the Red Planet appears so three-dimensional that you could walk through it.
His muscles are of interest to the scientists, as is his internal clock and the radiation dose to which he will be exposed during his work in the European Columbus research laboratory. On 28 May 2013 at 22:31 CEST, the European Astronaut Luca Parmitano will depart from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on board the Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft, beginning his journey to the International Space Station (ISS), as part of the Expedition 36/37 crew.
European astronaut Luca Parmitano's 'Volare' mission will begin on 28 May 2013 with the launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The International Space Station will be his place of work and home for the next six months.
On 4 May 2013 at 04:06 (CEST), when the European Proba-V satellite lifts off on a Vega launcher with the primary mission of observing vegetation from space, it will be carrying another instrument on board – one that will be keeping an 'eye' on aircraft.
In 1993, during the second German D2 Spacelab Mission, astronaut Hans Schlegel orbited Earth 160 times and conducting numerous international experiments as payload specialist. This was Schlegel's first flight into space.