Space | 22. February 2019 | posted by Tilman Spohn

The InSight mission logbook

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
You can find more graphics explaining the instruments of the InSight mission on flickr

In his logbook, Principal Investigator Tilman Spohn gives us the latest updates regarding the InSight mission and our HP3 instrument - the 'Mole' - which will hammer into the Martian surface. read more

Space | 12. December 2018 | posted by Manfred Gottwald

TanDEM-X image of Hiawatha Glacier

Credit: DLR
TanDEM-X radar amplitude image of the region around Hiawatha Glacier. The apparent texture is due to the surface structure of the ice and its dynamics.

Glaciers abound on Greenland's coastline; fed by the Greenland ice sheet, they flow towards the Arctic Ocean. In the northwest, Hiawatha Glacier is located at 78.8 degrees north, 67 degrees west. It emerges from a semi-circular lobe at the ice sheet margin and forms a narrow tongue with a length of 10 kilometres extending onto the ice-free Inglefield Land. Hiawatha Glacier’s northern neighbour, the large Humboldt Glacier, is much more widely known. The front of the Humboldt Glacier is over 100 kilometres wide where it flows into the Nares Strait. The TanDEM-X image shows the region around Hiawatha Glacier.

Recently, however, Hiawatha Glacier has received worldwide attention. Some years ago, radar measurements performed as part of NASA’s Operation IceBridge, a campaign to monitor changes in the polar ice caps, revealed a circular depression in the ground underneath the ice where Hiawatha Glacier emerges from the ice sheet. Subsequent surveying by an international research team using a more advanced airborne radar system on board the Polar 6 aircraft operated by the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) yielded a more detailed view of that bowl-shaped feature. With a diameter of 31 kilometres and a depth of more than 300 metres, it resembles impact craters on Earth or the solid surface of other celestial bodies. read more

Space | 23. October 2018 | posted by Friederike Wütscher

Study on ageing athletes at the World Championships in Málaga: A review

Credit: DLR
The MAFS team with the 70-year-old participant Ian Richards from Great Britain, a walker who took gold over three distances!

The study at the World Master Track & Field Championships in Málaga is now over and the crates with the instruments, devices, furniture and technical equipment have already been unpacked and stowed away at the Institute in Cologne. The time has now come to process and analyse the collected data, and the various groups of scientists are excited to find out the results of their work in the stadium over the last few weeks. But before detailed work on the data commences, we want to look back on the intense two weeks in Málaga and pass on a few impressions from the team. read more

Space | 02. October 2018 | posted by Tra-Mi Ho

MASCOT – Just hours before separation

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
Ready for #asteroidlanding - MASCOT Control Center at the DLR site in Cologne

About 7 years ago, when the MASCOT lander took its 'first steps' in the form of a CAD drawing was – at least for some of us – an unimaginable moment. Today, we are in the control room, following the slow descent of the Hayabusa2 spacecraft carrying our small landing package through the returned housekeeping data. We are ready to go. read more

Space | 28. September 2018 | posted by Nicole Schmitz

Teamwork: Hayabusa2 and MASCOT and the role of the lander's camera

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
The MASCOT camera MASCAM is positioned directly in front of MASCOT's 'feet'

Hayabusa2 and MASCOT will make a first-class team when they start investigating Ryugu. While Hayabusa2 will observe the asteroid's surface from the home position and take soil samples, MASCOT will examine the asteroid surface directly on site. Our MASCOT camera, called MASCAM, plays an important role here, as it will take high-resolution images of the surface, while Hayabusa2 will later obtain soil samples that will be brought back to Earth. This is important in ensuring that the samples are later interpreted in the correct context in the laboratory on Earth. The pictures that the camera acquires of the surface thus serve as the bridge between the lower-resolution images provided by the Hayabusa2 probe, at a distance from the asteroid, and the laboratory images of the samples brought back to Earth. read more

Space | 26. September 2018 | posted by Matthias Grott

What does the MASCOT radiometer MARA measure?

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
Temperature measurement with the MASCOT radiometer MARA. The highlighted area on the surface is also observed by the MASCOT camera.

A radiometer is a device for determining the radiation emitted by a surface. Its objective is to measure the temperature of the surface without touching it. When MASCOT separates from the Hayabusa2 probe on 3 October 2018, the MASCOT radiometer MARA will already be switched on, and will measure the surface temperature of the asteroid Ryugu during the descent, landing and rest periods. At first glance, measuring surface temperature sounds rather mundane and not particularly exciting. But what can the temperature tell us about the asteroid? In order to gain a better understanding, we have to consider the factors that determine the surface temperature on a body that lacks an atmosphere. Naturally, sunlight is an important factor – as are the properties of the surface material, known as the regolith. The key factor here is the speed at which the heat dissipates into the ground, a property known as thermal inertia. read more

Space | 24. September 2018 | posted by Friederike Wolff

Moving around on an unfamiliar celestial body

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
MASCOT's swing arm

Moving around on small bodies is difficult, because the gravitational pull and thus the friction between a lander and the ground is very small. Conventional means of transport, such as wheels or chains, are based on traction and are thus unsuitable for use on asteroids. Therefore, a mobility mechanism was developed for MASCOT in order to enable movement in such an environment: the lander is equipped with a swing arm that accelerates and decelerates an eccentrically mounted mass. The resulting reaction forces, in turn, allow the lander to push itself away from the ground. As the gravitational pull is very low, even small push-off forces can result in big jumps: a distance of 17 metres can be achieved with an initial speed of only five centimetres per second. The gravitational acceleration on the surface of Ryugu is only 0.00015 metres per second squared and is thus 60.000 times lower than on Earth (9.81 m/s2). read more

Space | 21. September 2018 | posted by Michael Maibaum

What will happen in the MASCOT control room before and during the landing?

Michael Maibaum vor jeder Menge Daten
Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
Lots of data: The MASCOT teams receive the lander's data via the Japanese Hayabusa2 space probe

MASCOT will begin its main and also final mission phase on 3 October 2018. Early in the morning, at 03:58:15 local time, MASCOT will separate from Hayabusa2 and land on the surface of Ryugu a few minutes later. It will already begin to conduct scientific measurements before starting its descent, and will continue doing so after landing, right up until its battery runs out. Standing on the surface, MASCOT will observe its surroundings and carry out various measuring sequences, depending on whether it is night or day at the landing site at the time. A day on Ryugu is only 7:38 hours, meaning that MASCOT will land in the early afternoon, local asteroid time. read more

Space | 17. September 2018 | posted by Christian Grimm

Point of no return – when MASCOT separates from Hayabusa2

Credit: DLR
Christian Grimm working on the MASCOT lander with colleagues

The date has been set! On 3 October 2018, after almost four years in space, the Franco-German MASCOT asteroid lander will separate from its Japanese mother craft Hayabusa2 and free-fall onto the surface of the asteroid Ryugu. The separation, driven by a small mechanism, will be a pivotal moment on which much depends. Once triggered, it will create a mechanically coupled chain reaction that will irrevocably initiate the mission. This is the point of no return. The way in which the mechanism functions and the possible risks of separation are briefly outlined here. read more

Space | 12. September 2018 | posted by Friederike Wütscher

Study on ageing athletes at the World Championships in Málaga – Top results in the competitions and the study

Credit: DLR
Buoyant mood during the calf ultrasound: a participant from the United States takes part in the MAFS study

The first week of the World Master Track & Field Championships in Málaga has come to an end and a few gold, silver and bronze medals have been awarded. Some of the athletes proudly bring their medals to the examinations and, despite the intense heat in the south of Spain, show the same level of focus and commitment in the MAFS18 study. All of them are determined to score top results in the examination of how regular exercise affects health. read more