Department History

Department History

  • Heinrich-Hertz-Institute for Solar-Terrestrial Physics (1967 - 1968)
  • Institute for Solar-Terrestrial Physics(1969 - 1971)
  • Research Center of Cosmos Electronics (1972)
  • Institute of Electronics  (1973 -1980)
  • Institute of Cosmos Research (1981 - 1991)
  • German Aerospace Center(1992 - 1994)
  • Institute for Planetary Sensor Systems  / Institute for Planetary Research  (1994 - 1998)
  • Institute for Planetary Sensor Systems and Institute for Planetary Research  (1999 - 2002)
  • Centre of excellence (2003)
  • Department OS (09/2003)
  • Optical Information Systems of the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics  (2006 - 2013)
  • Institute of Optical Sensor Systems (since 2013)

The cooperation between the Academy of Sciences of the GDR and the Soviet Union was of special importance within the framework of the Inter Cosmos Programme, signed in 1967, an agreement at the governmental level. Comprising the structural units of the Heinrich Hertz Institute, an independent research body for cosmic electronics was first formed in 1972, and one year later, the Institute of Electronics was formed. This new institute took over the lead in cosmos research. GDR researchers participated in the successful launches of the artificial earth satellites Inter Cosmos 1 to 4, two large-scale rockets with vertical orbits and four meteorological rockets from 1969 to 1975.
It was in this context that that the scientific apparatus industry in the GDR developed on board instruments that did not only live up to the specific demands of the space programme but also met the general criteria of progressive apparatus construction. These on-board instruments comprised the infrared Fourier Spectrometer (IFS), for the remote exploration of the atmosphere, and the MKF-6 multi-spectral camera for the remote exploration of the earth.


The roots of the Institute of Cosmos Research (IKF), established in 1981, reach back to the 1960s, starting with the Heinrich-Hertz-Institute, whose foundation was closely linked with the participation in the Inter Cosmos Programme, then the research body for Cosmic Electronics and the Institute of Electronics. The scientific profile of the IKF was determined by basic and applied research as well as technical developments for the benefit of space flight. The research focus was on the areas of remote exploration of the earth and extra terrestrial studies as well as material research under the conditions of outer space.

In addition to the existing scientific facilities, the technical conditions were created at the IKF for the simulation of outer space conditions. Thus, the tools and equipment intended for use in outer space could not only be developed and manufactured at Adlershof but also be tested and qualified for use in outer space there.

Missions and projects at the IKF


  • Venera
  • Phobos
  • MKS-M (SALYUT and MIR station)
  • Altitude research/atmosphere research
  • planned MARS94

On 1 January 1992, the two new DLR institutes for Planetary Sensor Systems and Planetary Research were set up at the location of Berlin-Adlershof. Following structural changes, there are the institutes of Planetary Research and Transport Research as well as the Optical Information Systems of the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics and the Department for the Remote.


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