Ulrich Köhler is a planetary geologist at the DLR Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin-Adlershof. He has been with DLR for more than 30 years, but he is already 'late middle-aged' and, unlike many a master's student, knows a thing or two about terms like Apollo, Viking and Voyager.
In fact, it was these projects and space missions that awakened his fascination for planetary research as a child. For example, every year in the 1970s, when the much-quoted 'uncle from America' came to visit, he brought the famous yellow 'National Geographic' magazines back to Germany, which were of course totally cool. The stupid thing was, your English had to be better than what you were taught in school.
In 1990, without a second's hesitation, he accepted an offer from Professor Neukum at DLR, who died in 2014, to help analyse data from the Galileo mission to Jupiter and its moons - but especially to process the image data from the two Earth-Moon flybys acquired along the way.
Volcanism on the Moon, Mars, Venus and Mercury are still his favorite topics in the Solar System. However, the institute's involvement in missions such as Cassini, Dawn, Rosetta, Hayabusa and Venus, and especially Mars Express, almost inevitably broadened his horizons. In his final decade at DLR, he may even end up having a say in exoplanets.
Together with Professor Jaumann, he is the author of two popular scientific publications on the Moon and Mars; with three other colleagues, Jaumann and Köhler wrote the standard work Expedition zu fremden Welten (Expedition to Alien Worlds) (Springer) in 2018. Among other exhibitions, he curated the DLR exhibition 'Comets', which was on display at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin and the Natural History Museum in Vienna.