Articles for "Landing robot"

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Space | 30. June 2017 | posted by Manuela Braun | 1 Comment

ROBEX Part 4: Ash, beetles and blustering winds

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Dust is inescapable after four weeks of field research on Mount Etna: a tenaciously fine layer covers everything: equipment, transport crates and notebook keypads. It penetrates the mission container and sticks to hands and legs lathered in sunscreen. Every step in the black lava soil kicks up clouds of dust. Even the white body of the LRU-2 Rover is coated in black deposits. A small mercy is that the last few days have seen significantly fewer flies and beetles buzzing around Mount Etna who, despite the gaunt landscape, insistently settle on the jackets and hats of the ROBEX team members.

After all, Mount Etna is not a conventional laboratory and remains unpredictable. Gusts of wind up to 100 kilometres an hour pummel the mountain on Thursday, carrying with it not only dust but heavy rocks, putting a stop to any work with the Rover – the force of the wind against the Rover's body and arm would simply be too great and could well have damaged it. The lander is also packed away safely, the flaps on its charging port not just folded down, but securely strapped in place. Finally, the engineers face the battering wind to remove the signs on the lander that the Rover uses as points of orientation during its approach. read more

Space | 28. June 2017 | posted by Manuela Braun

ROBEX Part 3: Hammering for science

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Mount Etna is very close to being a substitute Moon for the planetary researchers of the ROBEX project – it is here that they find volcanic basalt in quantities similar to those of the constituents of the lunar soil. In addition, the Sicilian volcano is the only place in Europe that experiences earthquakes at a depth of up to 600 kilometres. Mount Etna is like the Moon in this respect as well, as Earth's lunar companion experiences most earthquakes 700 to 1100 kilometres below the surface. "Etna is the only place in Europe where we can measure earthquakes at a similar depth," says planetary researcher Martin Knapmeyer.

Two experiments are to be conducted on the mountain; in the active measurements, the scientists use a hammer to strike the surface and seismometers to measure the transmission of the sound waves through the ground. The volcanic ash of 2001 rests on top of a more solid layer in Piano del Lago, so waves that take different routes through the surface material arrive at the seismometers at different times, providing information on the structures below the ground. The passive experiment uses four measurement stations to listen to the processes inside the volcano. read more

Space | 27. June 2017 | posted by Manuela Braun

ROBEX Part 2: Lander on a trolley

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

500. 350. 80. On Friday, these numbers set the rhythm. Weighing in at 500 kilograms, the RODIN lander will be taken 350 metres from its current location, 80 metres downhill. The lander was initially kept near base camp – the perfect location for carrying out repairs following its transit to Sicily and for the first tests and connection to the control room on Mount Etna. To conduct the actual 'Moon mission', the RODIN lander will be on the Piano del Lago.

The plain – located between Torre del Filosofo and La Montagnola crater – was once covered with meltwater. This changed when Mount Etna erupted in 2001; ash was spewn all over the plain and the Laghetto crater was formed. An ash blanket now covers a solidified layer of lava. It is its thickness that DLR planetary researchers want to measure. To do this, the heavy lander needs to be moved. Once lifted onto a trolley with rollers, the lander was able to start its descent down the slope. read more

Space | 23. June 2017 | posted by Manuela Braun

ROBEX Part 1: Mission in the lava landscape

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

A journey to the Moon is an arduous one, even if this 'Moon' is located here on Earth, 2600 metres above sea level, directly on Mount Etna.

A heavy transporter winds its way slowly and laboriously through the narrow, serpentine roads above Catania in Sicily to arrive at our lunar destination. The landscape becomes increasingly black as the team from the HGF Alliance ROBEX (Robotic Exploration under Extreme Conditions) approaches its temporary work location. Everyone clambers into all-terrain vehicles at Rifugio Sapienza to cover the last stretch to base camp, which is located right in the middle of a lava field. There, one lander, two rovers and several seismometers have been prepared for this one and a half week 'mission'. For the next four weeks, the on-site containers will be home to the almost 50 team members from DLR, AWI, the University of Würzburg and the Technical University of Kaiserslautern, where they will function as multipurpose laboratories, workshops and offices. read more

Space | 15. July 2016 | posted by Christian Grimm

Half-time for MASCOT – half the journey is completed

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
The MASCOT spare Flight Unit (FS) during further testing in Bremen

On December 3rd 2014, the French-German MASCOT asteroid lander was launched with its carrier probe Hayabusa2 from Tanegashima, an island about 40 kilometres south of the Japanese mainland. With MASCOT halfway to its destination, we look back on all that has happened since the launch.

At the beginning of 2015, MASCOT's spare flight unit, the so-called Flight Spare (FS), was refurbished and made ready. On Earth, this identical 'twin' of the asteroid lander serves as a reference system for the flight unit, the Flight Model (FM). The spare unit underwent the same qualification tests as the flight model and can also be used for advanced unit tests that were no longer possible for the FM due to scheduling constraints. These additional tests mainly focused on getting the best possible performance out of the system and on precisely calibrating the parameters required for the landing in October 2018. To achieve this, the scientific instruments on MASCOT performed a series of measurements. read more

Space | 12. November 2015

Anniversary of Philae comet landing – expecting the unexpected

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
 

By Karin Ranero Celius

One year ago today, the Philae lander touched down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This was no easy task, of course. With the Rosetta mission, it was demonstrated that it was not only possible to travel to a comet more than 500 million kilometres from Earth, but also to follow it in its orbit around the Sun and land on it. read more

Space | 18. September 2015 | 3 Comments

Philae calling ...

Credit: CNES/DUCROS David/ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM
 

By Cinzia Fantinati and Koen Geurts

On 9 July, the team at the DLR Lander Control Center made contact with Philae for the last time. Towards the end of October, Rosetta will come closer and attempts to communicate will resume. read more

Space | 12. August 2015 | posted by Fabian Walker

Video – Pieces of the Puzzle – Philae on Comet 67P

Kometenlandung (#CometLanding) von Philae am 12. November 2014
Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Philae's landing on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (#CometLanding) on 12 November 2014 was a historic moment – the first time in the history of space exploration that a spacecraft landed on a comet. Millions of people across the world followed the Rosetta mission via the Internet. read more

Space | 05. November 2014 | posted by Christian Grimm | 1 Comment

One last look - farewell, MASCOT

Credit: DLR
Applying the final layers of protection prior to the launch

The last adjustments have been made and the final functionality tests have been completed. Following the successful installation of MASCOT into the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft in Sagamihara, the final preparations have taken place at the Tanegashima launch complex in Japan. The attachment of the solar sails – carefully folded up above MASCOT for the launch – offers the last opportunity to see MASCOT.

Now, the development team must take a step back – it is a strange feeling. For two and a half years, we have been nurturing MASCOT, seeing it grow, teaching it plenty. But now it is time to let go, in the truest sense of the word, and send it on its difficult mission. Unfortunately, we cannot accompany it.

So how do you deal with the departure of an object that is not alive in a biological sense, yet contains the personalities of so many people who have guided it so dearly throughout its development? read more

Space | 03. November 2014 | posted by Jan Wörner | 3 Comments

A very eventful time…

Philae landet auf dem Kometen
Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
The Rosetta mission's Philae lander touches down on the comet (video still from 'Mission into the Unknown II - the Philae Comet Lander').

"If everything is under control, you are just not (driving) fast enough." This quote is attributed to several people, including, for example, racing driver Stirling Moss. This is scant reassurance these days, at a personally challenging time marked by so much activity. For one thing, it is time to continue working on the strategic orientation of DLR that was published in summer and, above all, to discuss and draft the parts that are still missing, specifically the alignment of the various technical and structural areas. Furthermore, the consequences at the organisational level – the governance – need consideration. In parallel with this important internal work, external activities are requiring our full attention and the associated commitment. read more