Security | 19. July 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken

Energy question of the week: Does the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico mean the end of deep sea drilling?

Since disaster struck the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico on 20 April 2010, up to nine million litres of crude oil have been gushing into the sea every day. It remains to be seen whether the recently installed 40-ton cap can really stop the majority of the oil flowing from the wellhead, 1500 metres under the sea. The spill will only be stopped definitively when the relief wells are completed in mid-August. But is this catastrophe the beginning of the end for deep sea drilling? read more

Space | 16. July 2010

Approach in orbit; busy times in Neustrelitz

DLR Bodenstation Neustrelitz

Tirelessly, TanDEM-X is acquiring data while moving ever closer to the TerraSAR-X satellite. As yet, the first flight formation is not set up and thus no interferometric processing is possible. All data received by the TanDEM-X ground station network are transferred to Neustrelitz, where they are processed into SAR images like the operational ones from TerraSAR-X. read more

Space | 14. July 2010

Stress tests in space and rivers of sand

As ground teams prepared for the formation flight of TanDEM-X and TerraSAR-X, TanDEM-X was put through its paces in the last week before approach. The instrument team ran a set of hot/cold tests to check the instrument’s performance limits by first allowing the radar system to cool down and then running it at full load. This was followed by tests in which a large number of randomly targeted radar images of the Earth’s surface were used to test the reliability of the reception and processing systems. The images acquired during these tests include a number of very puzzling pictures. read more

Space | 12. July 2010 | posted by Ralph Kahle | 5 Comments

Art in space – or, how to set up a formation

On its launch date, 21 June 2010, roughly 16,000 kilometres separated TanDEM-X from its twin satellite, TerraSAR-X. Now, that distance has shrunk to just 2000 kilometres. The time has come for the relative movement between the two satellites to be slowed down, and for them to be set up for formation flying. To accomplish this, the Flight Dynamics Group at the German Space Operations Center (GSOC) will carry out a total of 10 orbital manoeuvres over the next eight days. read more

Energy | 05. July 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken

Energy question of the week: How does a solar cell work?

At present, commercially available solar cells made from polycrystalline silicon operate with an efficiency of 20 percent. Special solar cells composed of other semiconductors such as gallium arsenide have already passed the 40 percent efficiency barrier. In contrast, cells based on organic materials or pigments convert only 10 percent of the sunlight into electrical current at best. All of these use the photovoltaic effect, but what actually happens in the process? read more

Space | 30. June 2010

TanDEM-X's first zoom and wide-angle images

TanDEM-X High Resolution Spotlight Preview

Now that in addition to control and mission planning, the Kiruna and Neustrelitz ground stations have also taken on important elements of the normal operation of the ground segments as part of commissioning, the various radar modes of the TanDEM-X are undergoing instrument and processing tests. This includes the high definition ‘Spotlight’ zoom mode and the ‘ScanSAR’ wide-angle mode. read more

Energy | 28. June 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken

Energy question of the week: Can burning ice solve our energy problems?

Crude oil, coal and natural gas are not the only fossil fuels hidden deep below the surface of the Earth. Right around the globe, enormous quantities of methane hydrates can be found as many people already know, especially since Frank Schätzings famous novel 'The Swarm' (Der Schwarm). This white combustible ice consists of water and methane gas. If thawed in a controlled fashion, many billions of tons of methane could be obtained from it. The question is: do methane hydrate have a genuine role to play in our energy future? read more

Space | 26. June 2010

TanDEM-X images under the magnifying glass – first data is perfect

While TanDEM-X spent mission days four and five catching up to its twin – TerraSAR-X – which is hurrying on, 13 000 kilometres ahead, it continued to acquire numerous test images. These will be analysed by the team and compared with previously processed TerraSAR-X images to tune the processing chain to suit the new instrument. read more

Space | 24. June 2010

Uncanny but true – “Everything is running like clockwork”

The fourth mission day has dawned, and so far everything is running like clockwork. It sometimes seems almost uncanny to us, and an occasional funny remark about our now being able to slowly turn off the simulator makes the rounds. But in reality, we are obviously very pleased and happy about ‘our’ TanDEM-X. Because everything is running so smoothly, we are able to complete our activities earlier than planned and have even been able to slightly shorten our original timetable, so that we will have less need for a night shift. read more