Articles for "Research aircraft"

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Aeronautics | 08. November 2019 | posted by Georg Dietz

From idea to take-off – preparing for a HALO measurement flight

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

No matter how many measurement flights we have already conducted, just before take-off the entire team assembles in front of the hangar and watches HALO's departure together. However, it takes days of planning and preparation to get to this point. For the SOUTHTRAC mission, all activities are carried out according to a fixed schedule, which is designed to ensure that flight preparations go as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Preparations for each flight take four days. As a measurement flight usually takes place every other day, several flights are always being planned at the same time, which is a complex task for everyone involved. At this point, I would like to present a timeline of the processes that have to take place before a measurement flight. read more

Aeronautics | 01. September 2016 | posted by Fabian Locher | 3 Comments

A day in the tropical sky

Flugplatz Togo
Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
The apron of the hangar – the Falcon is ready for more measurements

It is the middle of the night on the coast of West Africa. A team of sleepy aircraft technicians and atmospheric researchers exit the hotel lobby. The humidity hits them like a brick wall – it is already 25 degrees Celsius outside. Their departure for Gnassingbé Eyadéma Airport is scheduled at four AM sharp. The first motorcycles of the day thunder past the walls of the hotel complex. Today’s take-off is set for 09:30. But the chauffeurs are late – again.

At 04:30, two cars drive up along the beach promenade through the still quiet streets of Lomé, the capital city of Togo.

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
En route to the hangar via Boulevard Du Mono.

Twenty minutes later, the group reaches their destination – a small hangar next to the international airport. Waiting for them, ready for use, is the Falcon 20E , a very reliable member of DLR’s fleet of research aircraft. read more

Aeronautics | 02. June 2015

ARCTIC15 - Airborne SAR acquisitions up and running

SAR-Daten
Credit: DLR / Martin Keller (CC-BY 3.0)
A first SAR data quicklook of the Kangerlussuaq calibration test site. The colours represent the intensity in different polarisations (Red: VV, Green: HV, Blue: HH). The airport is clearly visible in black. From the centre of the image, the fjord extents in a south-west direction, where skidoo-tracks to the next village can be seen.

Three calibration flights, 10 flights to test sites, and over 100 radar data sets resulting in 4.8 Terabyte of SAR data. These are the numbers behind the work our F-SAR team conducted within the last two weeks – including even the alteration from the X-C-S-L to the P-band antenna configuration and fortunately only one bad weather day.

DLR's Do-228 airplane, with the F-SAR system on board arrived on Friday, 24 May, in Kangerlussuaq. On the following Monday, the team consisting of two pilots, one flight engineer and two radar operators took off for the first calibration flight. In the first two weeks, the antenna configuration for the X-, C-, S- and L-band frequencies was installed on the plane. This range of different frequencies will allow us to compare radar acquisitions with different penetration depths into the snow and ice. The team acquired SAR data over all the test sites where we had installed corner reflectors. Additionally, the area around the airport and town of Kangerlussuaq is overflown for calibration purposes and is well equipped with seven reflectors. It seems like the locals got used to these strange metallic artefacts in their town pretty fast.

Credit: DLR / Ralf Horn (CC-BY 3.0)
DLR's Do-228 with the F-SAR radar system on board after refuelling at the airport of Ilulissat, Greenland. The X-C-S-L antenna mount is visible on the rear of the plane.

Eventually, during the first days after the calibration flight, we had to face exactly those smaller and bigger problems – those that one must always expect during a campaign, as mentioned in the previous post. But the F-SAR team proved their problem-solving skills and campaign experience. From non-matching connections of the local oxygen supply to unstable electronic parts, they were able to fix everything without causing any delay to the campaign plan. I have to admit that I was already worried about losing one test site due to the technical difficulties, but the team was able to acquire almost all the data we had planned for. For now, we can say that the X-C-S-L phase was successful, giving us plenty of scientific data.

Credit: DLR / Georg Fischer (CC-BY 3.0)
The F-SAR team preparing to remove the X-C-S-L antenna from the side of the Do-228 airplane.

The change to the P-band antenna configuration was completed successfully. The P-band wavelength is the longest we will use during this campaign and penetrates several tens of metres into the ice. We are already curious about what kind of subsurface features we will see in the data.

Today, while I'm writing, the F-SAR team is flying over the K-transect to conduct the first P-band acquisitions. Currently, we are all very optimistic about the upcoming part of the campaign.

Aeronautics | 29. May 2015

WindVal: Petta reddast

Betanken der Falcon vor dem Start
Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
Falcon ready for the jet stream flight, in the background is the NASA DC-8

In Iceland you hear one phrase very often: 'petta reddast', which can be translated as "it will all work out okay". With that in mind, we started planning the flight to have a closer look at strong changes in the horizontal and vertical gradients of the wind speeds in the atmosphere, which is one of the key objectives of the ADM-Aeolus WindVal campaign.

When operating from Iceland, the ideal target region for such an endeavour is in or near a jet stream (fast flowing current in the atmosphere with a meandering shape) over the North Atlantic that is within range of the aircraft. The situation on Friday 15 May 2015 offered a great opportunity to address this aim and coordinate with the NASA DC-8 to observe strong jet stream winds. We have total of four wind lidar systems on the two aircraft, the DC-8 and DLR’s Falcon. read more

Space | 14. March 2014 | posted by Jan Wörner | 1 Comment

SOFIA… a success story in jeopardy

SOFIA am Flughafen von Christchurch, Neuseeland

[Translated from the German original on 19 March 2014]

Since 2007, a converted Boeing 747 SP has been flying to look into the depths of space through an on-board telescope. This airborne observatory is a joint venture between the US space agency NASA and the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). As part of the current budget statement for NASA, it was announced from Washington that it would not be possible to finance continued operations as of 2015. This would not only be a major blow for the scientists that have planned a great deal of interesting astronomical research for the coming years, but also for the relationship between NASA and DLR. 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