Exploration Systems


Our Solar System

Within the Institute of Space Systems, the department of Exploration Systems is dealing with technologies and mission concepts being connected to Exploration Missions. This includes: landing systems, robotic infrastructures, asteroid landers, sub-surface sampling and in-situ measurement systems. The department is covering the whole scope of exploration starting with the landing (on asteroids as well as on planetary bodies) up to infrastructures and instruments on the ground of such bodies. Key competences are starting with fundamental research (lunar robotic infrastructures, landing technologies) over verification in the lab till whole flight projects/missions (MASCOT/InSight). For technological verification of landing systems, a special lab is operated (Landing test facility LAMA), where several test modi can be carried out (Lander drop tests, guided landing tests, single wheel tests, single leg tests). Further competences are being built up in running missions on system level (MASCOT Lander on Hayabusa-2 with JAXA) well as on instrument level (HP3 on InSight with NASA).

Current activities of the department are:

  • Project lead and systems engineering in the project MASCOT, an asteroid landing module as part of the Japanese Hayabusa-2 sampling return mission.
  • Technical realization and design of the flight model of the subsurface vehilce “Mole” , which will fly on the NASA Mars mission “InSight” in 2016 (Discovery Selection 2012).
  • Build-up and operation of landing and mobility testbed LAMA; this facility, being unique at the international level, permits realistic touchdown dynamics tests to be performed for planetary landers from the point of view of granular target surfaces and landing dynamics; this is achieved through controlled weight reduction of the test item while moving in the horizontal over a simulated planetary surface including surface roughness and slopes; LAMA also supports dynamically realistic rover mobility tests; LAMA is presently used
    • in the joint "landing technology" basic research collaboration with EADS Astrium Bremen (landing dynamics tests for future lunar landers such as ESA’s Lunar Lander)
    • for landing tests related to missions to comets and asteroids
    • for test of single lander legs
    • test of crushable platforms to reduce the shock as an alternative landing concept
  • leading studies within the Helmholtz Alliance "Robotic Exploration of Extreme Environments (ROBEX)" in cooperation with deep see scientists (e.g. MARUM Bremen)
  • Participation in project RIMRES under the lead of DFKI Bremen: responsibility for development, construction and testing of the wheels of the RIMRES-Rover, basing on numerous previous technology projects and terrestrial / planetary vehicle developments
  • Mission and payload studies for national and European robotic landing missions within the planning framework of relevant space agencies (such as for ESA’s "Cosmic Vision" programme) and as part of the "Helmholtz Alliance Planetary Evolution and Life"

Lars Witte
German Aerospace Center

Tel: +49 421 24420 1127

Fax: +49 421 24420 1120

E-Mail: lars.witte@dlr.de
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