Space | 13. May 2010 | 1 Comment

TanDEM-X is in Baikonur

It was a long, long way to Baikonur. Already, at the beginning of the trip, the cargo plane – loaded with 37 tons of TanDEM-X and its support equipment in six containers – was delayed for several hours. It was not until 22:45 that we were able to leave Munich. One might have hoped that the stop in Ulyanovsk would be short – but on the contrary, the customs checks were extensive and time consuming. read more

Space | 11. May 2010 | 2 Comments

TanDEM-X is on its way to Baikonur!

Since my last report, the satellite, weighing in at 1350 kilograms, has arrived safely at Franz Josef Strauss Airport in Munich, packed in its air-conditioned transport container, and will set out at 18:00 today on the next leg of its journey on board an Antonov AN-124 bound for Baikonur in Kazakhstan. Immediately after it lands on 12 May, the launch campaign will start. The satellite will be unpacked, filled with hydrazine fuel and then put through a series of tests. One week before its launch date, the satellite will be transported to its silo, in which the Dnepr-1 launch vehicle that will take it into orbit is ready and waiting. The satellite will then be installed on the launcher, its batteries will be charged and the final tests will be conducted. Then, all anyone can do is to cross their fingers and wish it well! read more

Energy | 10. May 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken

Energy question of the week: Can sunlight be used to split water directly into oxygen and hydrogen?

Solar cells are good at converting sunlight directly into electricity. However, they come nowhere close to the efficiency of natural photosynthesis. Using chlorophyll, green plants have mastered the art of producing energy-rich molecules such as sugar and starch from carbon dioxide, water and sunlight. Would it not make sense to harness this natural process to generate energy? read more

Space | 29. April 2010 | 3 Comments

The countdown has started!

There are just 54 days for the most spectacular remote sensing mission ever to commence. Never before have two satellites flown in such close formation – their minimum distance will be only 200 metres. The two satellites are TerraSAR-X, which has been orbiting the Earth for the last three years, and its virtually identical twin, TanDEM-X, which will follow it into space on 21 June 2010. Working together, they can be compared to two eyes – capable of seeing things in perspective – because the mission objective is a complete survey of Earth in two and a half years. read more

Space | 28. April 2010

The first mission weblog - welcome to the TanDEM-X blog!

TanDEM-X

Right on time for 'shipment' of the German radar satellite TanDEM-X this coming Thursday, 29 April 2010, we are launching the TanDEM-X blog – and looking forward to our first mission weblog on the new platform. The plan at this time is for Mission Manager Stefan Buckreuss and the DLR Communications team to be joined on the blog by colleagues working in the areas of project management, science, mission operations, the ground station network, flight dynamics, radar, calibration and data processing. read more

Aeronautics | 26. April 2010 | posted by Jan Wörner

A volcanic eruption affects the whole of Europe – is the air clear?

Two days after the successful flight of DLR's Falcon research aircraft, the airspace over Germany has been re-opened. Admittedly, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano is still ejecting lava and ash, but the German weather service (DWD), the German air traffic control organisation (DFS) and the German Federal Ministry of Transport (BMVBS) have authorised flights again on the basis of current weather data. DLR has carried out two more flights after requests from the authorities, and the dust has settled, or – to be more precise – has moved on. read more

Energy | 26. April 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 3 Comments

Energy question of the week: Does the future of wind power lie in the open seas?

In January 2010, wind farms in Germany had a generating capacity of 25,777 megawatts. This means that almost eight percent of Germany's electricity requirement can be met in a climate-neutral way. However, since land areas exposed to strong winds are limited, both large and small-scale power-generating businesses are jostling for position out in the open sea. This poses a simple question: are offshore wind farms genuinely more efficient? read more