About the author

Kay Lingenauber

Kay Lingenauber studied aerospace engineering and has worked in the field of hardware development at the DLR Institute of Planetary Research since 2005. He was involved in the design and integration of the BepiColombo Laser Altimeter (BELA). As a systems engineer, he designed the Ganymede Laser Altimeter (GALA), which he now oversees as project manager.

As a child, he borrowed and ‘devoured’ all the astronomy and space books available in the local library. It was only natural for him to go on to study aerospace engineering, first at the University of Stuttgart, then at the Technical University of Berlin. He completed his diploma thesis in the Planetary Sensor Systems department of the DLR Institute of Planetary Research, where he came into contact with planetary laser altimetry for the first time. It has remained the focus of his work to this day.

For BELA, he developed, among other things, the transceiver baffle, a high-precision reflective baffle that protects the laser from the strong thermal radiation coming from Mercury and the Sun. For the test campaign of the BELA transmitter, he designed the thermal vacuum chamber, clean rooms and optical measurement setups, which also meet the special requirements of all instruments developed at the institute.

Lingenauber’s work on the GALA began in 2008 with a blank sheet of paper, ‘lessons learned’ from BELA and a lot of new ideas. GALA is inevitably compared to BELA, but where BELA is used to study hot Mercury, GALA will fly to Jupiter's cold icy moons as part of the JUICE mission – a completely different world!

Lingenauber was first a GALA system engineer, then from 2016, GALA project manager for an international team including partners from Japan, Switzerland and Spain. His daily work is demanding, but nevertheless very fulfilling, as with this project the team is conducting fundamental research in our ‘astronomical front garden’. The data gathered using GALA will help address pressing scientific questions – but also leave plenty of new and open questions for future generations.

Posts from Kay Lingenauber

Space | 12. April 2023

JUICE launch to Jupiter: GALA diary from Kourou

The day before the big day: Tomorrow, the JUICE mission will launch towards Jupiter, and the DLR team will be there in Kourou! After a smooth journey via Paris, we arrived at the European spaceport in French Guiana last night. Now we are looking forward to the launch of the Ariane 5 rocket tomorrow morning at 09:15 local time (14:15 CEST). Our instruments GALA and JANUS will be sent to the Jupiter system on the JUICE spacecraft. read more

Space | 20. March 2023

GALA on JUICE Part 2 – From the first idea to the finished instrument – a development story

In the first part of this blog series on the Ganymede Laser Altimeter (GALA) , we introduced the instrument and its scientific goals. In this article, we will describe the long development history that a complex instrument such as GALA must go through until it can be launched into space. read more

Space | 04. January 2019

BELA - Die Vermessung des Merkurs

BELA, das BepiColombo LaserAltimeter, ist eines von insgesamt elf Instrumenten an Bord des MPO (Mercury Planetary Orbiter) der BepiColombo-Mission zum Merkur. Mit dem Start am 20. Oktober 2018 vom Weltraumbahnhof Kourou in Französisch-Guayana wurde das Instrument auf seine lange Reise zum Merkur gebracht. BELA wurde vom DLR-Institut für Planetenforschung in Zusammenarbeit mit der Universität Bern, dem Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung und dem Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía entwickelt und gebaut. Die Anfänge von BELA reichen bis in das Jahr 2003 zurück, als die Planetenforscher des DLR mit den genannten Partnern die sogenannte "Phase 0" des Projektes begannen. Das DLR-Institut für Planetenforschung hat dabei die Verantwortung für den Sendeteil (Transmitter) sowie der Hauptelektronik des Instrumentes übernommen. read more