When the Philae lander reaches its landing site on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, it needs to be at a level yet scientifically interesting location, with enough sunlight and the right conditions to ensure a long working life. However, the rugged, unusually shaped comet is not making the choice easy for the lander team.
The ESA Rosetta spacecraft has travelled over 6.4 billion kilometres, swung by planets, examined two asteroids during flybys, and spent more than two and a half years in hibernation during its 10-year journey. On 6 August 2014 at 11:30 CEST, with the Philae lander on board, it arrived at its target comet and entered into orbit. Now, the mapping of the comet, which appears to consist of two interconnected parts, will begin. The first ever landing on a comet is expected to take place on 11 November 2014. The Philae lander is controlled and operated from the Lander Control Centre of the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
Cassini, the Saturn orbiter, has witnessed countless fascinating phenomena, transmitting exceptional images and measurements back to Earth – including the intricate structure of Saturn's rings, the fountains of ice shot into space from the surface of Enceladus and rivers and oceans of methane on Titan.
More than two and a half years – this is how long the Philae lander has been hibernating while travelling through space on board the European Space Agency ESA Rosetta spacecraft. On 28 March, the lander was successfully reactivated and broke its planned radio silence by sending data to Earth from a distance of about 655 million kilometres.
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.
The first results from the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) have been released. This space 'camera' has recorded 20 billion cosmic particles in the first 18 months of operation – yet that is just a small step.
Last week, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced its choice of scientific experiments for the JUICE Mission (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer). The decision taken involved two experiments developed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Institute of Planetary Research.
From the outside it resembles a shiny barrel; inside, however, it contains a myriad of possibilities for scientific work under microgravity conditions. The European Columbus research module has been flying through space for five years, attached to the International Space Station (ISS).
The US 'Curiosity' rover began its journey to Mars at 16:02 CET on 26 November on board an Atlas V 541 / Centaur launcher that lifted off from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The ROKVISS (Robotic Components Verification on the ISS) technology experiment developed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) has returned to Earth after six years in space.
Varied impact craters, valleys, canyons and mountains among the highest in the Solar System – the 3D images and videos of the asteroid Vesta created by scientists at the German Aerospace Center reveal a most unusual celestial body. The US Dawn spacecraft, carrying a German camera system on board, has been orbiting the asteroid since July 2011.
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is another step closer to Vesta; only 5200 kilometres now separate the asteroid and its new ‘neighbour’, Dawn. The images show Vesta from ists south pole to areas in the northern hemisphere.
After almost four years traveling through space, the NASA Dawn spacecraft reached its destination and entered orbit around the asteroid Vesta on 16 July 2011. On board Dawn, among other instruments, is a Framing Camera for imaging the surface of the asteroid. Using data from this camera system, scientists at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) will create detailed maps and elevation models of this celestial body.
The images acquired by the German camera system on the US spacecraft Dawn are currently being used for navigation purposes in its journey to the asteroid Vesta. A film, created by the Dawn team researchers from individual images acquired at a distance of about 481,000 kilometres, already reveals how complex the surface of the asteroid is.
On 8 June 2011, the Rosetta spacecraft will be put into hibernation after having travelled through space for more than seven years. To reduce energy consumption, the European probe will be flying in 'economy mode' as it heads towards its destination, the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. But this will be no break for researchers at the German Aerospace Center (DLR); they will continue to train in preparation for Rosetta's arrival in May 2014. Six months after reaching the comet, Philae, the Rosetta lander, will become the first spacecraft to land on a comet.
When Space Shuttle Endeavour launched on 11 February 2000 for the 'Shuttle Radar Topography Mission' (SRTM), it was carrying two radar antennas; one in the shuttle's payload bay and the other on the end of a 60-metre mast. Over the course of eleven days, researchers at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) acquired data for a three-dimensional terrain model of large areas of the Earth. Now, DLR is making these data available for scientific purposes free of charge.
The camera system on board the Dawn spacecraft has acquired its first image of the massive asteroid Vesta. Although the mission's first target is still about 975,000 kilometres away, appearing as just a large white dot, "we now have visual contact with our objective," said Ralf Jaumann of the German Aerospace Center (DLR). In August 2011, the camera will photograph the asteroid from an orbit with a planned survey altitude of 2700 kilometres; the data will then be processed to develop a three-dimensional model.
On 15 March 2011, the German Space Operations Center (GSOC) at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen took over operation of the Swedish PRISMA satellite mission. The Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) implemented the transfer of control as part of a bilateral agreement. DLR will be responsible for mission operations for a period of five months and has the opportunity to carry out additional experiments.