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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 | 23. August 2018 | posted by Johannes Weppler

Nocturnal thrills – a tale of an EVA, live from Moscow

Credit: DLR, MPO, Roskosmos
The ICARUS team in the Russian control centre on the evening of the launch of the antenna to the ISS

It is 01:28 on 16 August 2018, and applause has suddenly broken out in the MCC-M, the Russian control centre for the International Space Station (ISS). The room is full of happy faces. The ICARUS antenna, which will be used to track animals from space, has just been successfully installed on the exterior of the Russian Zvezda module on the ISS. read more

Space | 17. August 2018 | posted by Elke Heinemann

ICARUS - Understanding and protecting life on Earth by giving animals an opportunity to communicate with us

ICARUS_EN
Quelle: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
ICARUS: Global monitoring of the movement of birds and small animals

If animals could talk, they could tell us a lot about life on our planet. Their migratory movements help us to better understand how to protect human health and wildlife on Earth. Yet scientists are unable to follow small animals and insects on their long journey. Billions of songbirds move every year from continent to continent. Bats and countless insect species may do the same, but we don’t know for sure. This knowledge could provide insights into animal behaviour, the spread of epidemics such as bird flu and Ebola, the impact of climate change, as well as food security in some regions. It would also help predict natural disasters by tapping the highly developed senses of animals, which often react faster to such dangers than humans do.

In order to observe the global migratory movements of small animals through a satellite system, the ICARUS (International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space) initiative is using miniaturised transmitters attached to animals to collect data on their migration patterns. read more

Space | 16. August 2018 | posted by Freya Scheffler-Kayser

Everyday life on the ISS – part 2

Credit: ESA/NASA–A. Gerst
Sunrise seen from the ISS

How does Alexander Gerst spend his days on the ISS? After getting up, washing and breakfast, he attends the 07:30 – 07:45 early conference with the entire crew and the five control centres operated by the ISS partners, which are located in Houston (USA), Korolyov near Moscow (Russia), Saint-Hubert (Quebec, Canada), Tsukuba (Japan) and for Europe at the Columbus Control Centre at DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen, close to Munich. read more

Space | 09. August 2018 | posted by Philipp Burtscheidt

Immuno-2: Examining the immune system in microgravity to improve our quality of life on Earth

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Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
Infographic Immuno-2: Examining the stress-related weakening of the immune system

All of us experience stress in our daily lives. This can affect the human immune system, leading to illnesses both on Earth and in space. Many astronauts return from missions in poor health due to the harsh conditions endured over prolonged periods in space.

On Earth, healthy and critically ill people, in particular, suffer from similar ailments caused by the same stress factors, having a considerable socioeconomic impact. In 2015, the economic losses caused by the incapacity to work – often due to mental illness – amounted to 113 billion euro for Germany alone. read more

Space | 07. August 2018 | posted by Freya Scheffler-Kayser

Always on Saturday... everyday life on the ISS

Astro_Alex auf Flickr: Image-ID: 362D5956; Credits: ESA/NASA
Credit: ESA/NASA
Saturdays on the ISS: ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst during the weekly 'house cleaning' out in space
Visit Alexander Gerst's Flickr gallery for more photos

The International Space Station ISS orbits Earth every 90 minutes, which means that the astronauts witness 16 sunrises and sunsets every single day. All the same, Alexander Gerst and his colleagues maintain virtually the same circadian rhythm as we do in Europe. They are awake when we are awake, and sleep when we sleep. Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) applies on board the Space Station. During summer in Germany, we are two hours ahead of UCT, but only one hour ahead in winter. So the six astronauts living on the ISS are only just getting up while we are already on our way to work. read more

Space | 31. July 2018 | posted by Volker Schmid

From horizon to horizon - Alexander Gerst phones home

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
Künzelsau residents say 'Hello Alex!' and greet the ISS

At about 16:30 on 26 July 2018, the main street of Künzelsau, Alexander Gerst's hometown, resembled a festival: around 5000 people were on their feet. The street was packed and everyone listened attentively to the stage announcements, waiting for the call from the ISS. The event had been underway since 11:00, starting with a press conference in the Town Hall. All that remained was to quickly integrate a few additional charts into the short presentation and then it would be underway. Following the official welcome and the opening address by the DLR press spokesperson, it was my turn, focusing on the experiments and benefits of research on the ISS. But just minutes earlier, I suddenly received an e-mail on my phone. read more

Space | 24. July 2018 | posted by Clemens Plank

SOFIA's record-breaking campaign in New Zealand

Das deutsche SOFIA- und GREAT-Team
Credit: © DLR
Although they worked in shifts, almost the entire German SOFIA and GREAT team in New Zealand made it onto the photo

Christchurch, New Zealand, 2 June 2018, 11:03 local time – the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) lands right on time for her fifth deployment 'down under'. We use the term deployment in connection with SOFIA to describe a temporary posting of the observatory with regular flight operations at a location other than its home base in Palmdale, California. Christchurch is the destination for June and July, when we get away from the short summer nights in California to take advantage of the benefits provided by New Zealand's winter. In addition to the longer winter nights, this is due in particular to the clear skies above the South Pacific. What is more, the Southern Hemisphere allows us to see a part of the sky that, from California, remains 'hidden' beneath the equator and is therefore simply invisible. This includes the centre of the Milky Way, as well as the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, which are of great interest to astronomers. read more

Space | 23. July 2018 | posted by Volker Schmid

Loss of power for the ISS MFX-2 experiment

Planetensimulator MFX-2 vom DLR auf der ISS
Image: NASA
DLR's MFX-2 experiment on the ISS

Time is a precious commodity – especially in a unique laboratory complex such as the International Space Station (ISS). When something fails to go to plan, the result is additional stress and strain for the planners, researchers and everyone downstream who is involved in experimentation – everyone is keenly waiting for his/her timeslot. Last week it was DLR's MFX-2 Planetary Simulator that was involved. This had to be rebooted following an unexpected loss of power and some data was lost. The loss of power possibly damaged the start-up file on the USB boot stick. It is possible that the USB boot drive suffered damage as a result of the additional radiation experienced at an altitude of 400 kilometres. read more

Space | 18. July 2018 | posted by Freya Scheffler-Kayser

Direct line to astronaut Alexander Gerst

Credit: © DLR
Students speak by radio with Alexander Gerst on the ISS

Working with the younger generation – getting children and young people interested in space, natural sciences and high-tech professions – is an important part of Alexander Gerst's 'horizons' mission. The ARISS calls – live radio contacts between selected schools and @Astro_Alex – are particularly popular. ARISS stands for 'Amateur Radio on the International Space Station' and is organised by Alexander Gerst, the mission team at the DLR Space Administration in Bonn and the German Amateur Radio Club (DARC). Each mission usually involves radio contact with three or four selected schools in Germany. But because it is such an unforgettable experience for the students, and demand far exceeds supply, Gerst made a personal effort to increase the number long before 'horizons' was underway. Ten ISS radio contacts have now been organised with 14 schools and three DLR_School_Labs in Germany, as well as with one school in St. Vith (Belgium). read more