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Space | 09. March 2021 | posted by Jess Bunchek

EDEN ISS - Growing vegetables in the eternal ice: Coming to Antarctica

Credit: DLR/NASA/Jess Bunchek
Neumayer III Station in Antarctica

The EDEN ISS greenhouse, developed by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), has been in Antarctica since 2018. It was designed to conduct research into food production in deserts and cold regions, as well as exploring the possibility of growing fresh food in the hostile conditions of the Moon or Mars. Plant scientist Jess Bunchek from NASA's Kennedy Space Center is spending a year in the eternal ice as a DLR guest researcher. In this blog, she will report about her exciting research on Earth's coldest continent.

In a typical year, you can reach the Neumayer III Station in Antarctica by air, but as we all know, the last year has been anything but typical. With countries restricting travellers and flights being cancelled, the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), which runs Neumayer, came up with an alternative: go by ship. The icebreaker RV Polarstern (German for 'polar star') already travels annually from Germany to Neumayer to resupply the station, so adding a few passengers to this year's transit was a logical and COVID-safe solution for AWI. read more

Space | 23. February 2021 | posted by Nicole Schmitz

'We' are on Mars – here we go!

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
First high-resolution colour image of the landing site in Jezero Crater, taken by the Hazard Avoidance Camera (HazCam).

On 18 February 2021, the Perseverance rover of NASA's Mars 2020 mission landed on Mars safe and sound. The research mission, initially scheduled to last two years, has begun. In this blog, DLR researcher Nicole Schmitz, together with her colleague Frank Preusker, will report regularly on the progress of the mission and the camera experiment in which they are involved. Both are part of the Science Team of the Mastcam-Z instrument, a stereo camera located on Perseverance's approximately two-metre-high mast.

We're on Mars! That's the thought I've been waking up with for the past three days. Of course, 'we' are not actually on Mars, but it feels that way since Thursday 18 February, when the NASA Mars 2020 mission rover Perseverance touched down in Jezero Crater at 21:55 CET. It was set down gently by the sky crane, the same system that delivered Curiosity safely to Gale Crater almost nine years ago. Delivered? That might not be the correct word for this exceptional space manoeuvre that has made it possible for us researchers to embark on our mission. read more

Space | 03. December 2020 | posted by Ulrich Köhler

Sample return - first class spaceflight

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
Separation of the sample capsule on 5 December 2020, during the return to Earth of the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 (artist's impression).

If there is one industry or scientific discipline in 2020 in which the infamous coronavirus pandemic has left relatively few traces, it is space exploration. Everything rises and falls; Newton and Kepler send their regards. There is simply no way around it. When expensive metal boxes are in orbit around Earth or out in the depths of the Solar System, with or without valuable human passengers, someone on the ground has to make sure that the mission continues. For obvious reasons, control of it must not simply be given up, as in most cases this would lead to the total loss of the very valuable spacecraft. read more

Space | 16. October 2020 | posted by Tilman Spohn

The InSight mission logbook

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Since February 2019, the scientific director of DLR's HP3 instrument, Tilman Spohn, has been providing us with the latest news about the InSight mission in the DLR blog and regularly explains the current situation of the heat probe HP3, which we affectionately refer to as the Mars 'Mole'. read more

Space | 09. September 2020 | posted by Mattia Marconcini

World Settlement Footprint - Where do humans live?

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
WSF2015 - Subset including India and vast part of Eastern and South Eastern Asia

After three years of meticulous data processing and comprehensive quality control, the World Settlement Footprint 2015 is now available. With a resolution of 10 metres, the new world map reveals settlement structures on Earth in 2015. read more

Space | 19. August 2020 | posted by Alessandra Roy

The SOFIA airborne observatory: Understanding the role of magnetic fields in star formation

Für diese Abbildung wurden die Magnetfelder mit einem Bild der NASA-Mission Spitzer überlagert und als Linien dargestellt.
Credit: NASA/SOFIA/T. Pillai/J. Kauffmann; NASA/JPL-Caltech/L. Allen
For this illustration, the magnetic fields were superimposed on an image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and are represented as lines. The magnetic fields are pulled along with the movement of the gas. In this image you can see the change of direction from perpendicular (top – marked red) to parallel (bottom left – marked blue) with respect to the thick black filament of dust and gas.

A research team led by Thushara Pillai from Boston University and the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn has just published their work on the interaction of interstellar magnetic fields with newly forming stars in Nature Astronomy. The observations were made using the High Resolution Airborne Wideband Camera Plus (HAWC+) – the unique far-infrared polarimetry instrument on board DLR and NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). We at the DLR Space Administration supported Dr Pillai and her team’s observations through the DLR Astronomy and Astrophysics Collaborative Research project. read more

Space | 07. July 2020 | posted by Tilman Spohn

The InSight mission logbook (February 2019 - July 2020)

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
You can find more graphics explaining the instruments of the InSight mission on flickr

In his logbook, Instrument Lead Tilman Spohn who is back in Berlin since April and communicating with JPL via the web, gives us the latest updates regarding the InSight mission and our HP3 instrument - the 'Mole' - which will hammer into the Martian surface. read more

Space | 18. March 2020 | posted by Alessandra Roy Dörte Mehlert

SOFIA observes the star Betelgeuse

Credit: ESO/M. Montargès et al.
Betelgeuse in January and December 2019, captured by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT)

Curiosity is high, a lot has been said and written, but nobody knows what is really happening with the star Betelgeuse. Its luminosity has decreased drastically over the last five months. Now, there is speculation that the star could soon become a supernova – the explosion at the end of a large celestial body's life. A team led by Miguel Montargès of KU Leuven in Belgium has compared two images of Betelgeuse acquired by the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) in January and December 2019 and has discovered something surprising – it is not only Betelgeuse's brightness that has changed, but also its shape. read more

Other | 20. January 2020 | posted by Thomas Esch

Smart data for sustainable cities

Credit: DLR
Analysis of settlement patterns using spatial network analysis

Earth observation and artificial intelligence can be used to assist with sustainable development decisions. Some years ago, Earth underwent an epochal change, albeit one that was consciously perceived by only a few of us. For the first time in human history, more people are living in cities than in rural areas. Although this might not seem particularly remarkable at first glance, this change will ultimately affect each and every one of us, whether directly or indirectly – because the future is urban. read more