The asteroid lander MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout) has been on its way to the near-Earth Asteroid (162173) Ryugu (1999 JU3) since three December 2014. Currently on board the Japanese Hayabusa2 orbiter, it will reach its destination in 2018. Once there, the Haybusa2 probe will fly over the asteroid and collect material from the surface to be sent back to Earth. MASCOT, on the other hand, will free fall from a height of 100 metres, landing on the asteroid, which has a diameter of one kilometre. It will move around and, for the first time in the history of space travel, carry out measurements in several areas of the asteroid.
Astronauts must be supplied with air, water and food whilst in space. In order to 'recycle' these vital resources over a long period of time and to make them available for several years, closed life support systems are needed. The DLR mission Eu:CROPIS (Euglena Combined Regenerative Organic Food Production in Space) is focussing on testing the long-term stability of a biological life support system for missions to the Moon or Mars.
Globalisation leads to increased amounts of traffic on our oceans. To simultaneously increase the safety of this maritime traffic, it has been compulsory for large ships to carry an Automatic Identification System AIS since 2002 that monitors ships and tracks their locations and in this way acts as a collision avoidance system. This system exchanges static ship information and dynamic navigational data (position, course and speed) between ships and ground stations.
An A320 overflying Scotland was the first aircraft 'seen' from space by a receiver developed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), proving that tracking aircraft from space is possible. The ESA PROBA-V satellite has been orbiting Earth since 7 May 2013, and is equipped with a receiver that detects aircraft ADS-B signals (Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast).
The core component of HP³ is an instrumented, electromechanical 'mole', equipped with an active, and a passive Thermal Measurement Suite (TEM-A and TEM-P), as well as a combined accelerometer and tiltmeter (ACTIL), which uses an internal hammering mechanism to penetrate through the ground. The thermal probes are located on a five-metre long flat ribbon cable known as a ‘Science Tether’, which measures its temperature and gradient through to its maximum length. The Department of Landing and Exploratory Technology and the Department of Mechanics and Thermal Systems based in Bremen were both involved.
Sustained human presence in space requires the development of new technologies to maintain environmental control, to manage wastes, to provide water, oxygen, food and to keep astronauts healthy and psychologically fit.