The world’s largest space congress, organised by the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) was held in Pasadena, California, from 14 to 22 July 2008. Over 3000 researchers from around the globe gathered at the event to discuss the latest developments in space research. Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the Executive Board at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), and Hansjörg Dittus, DLR Executive Board Member for Space Research and Technology, took part in discussions on the future of exploration and gave informative talks on DLR’s research projects.
Attending a panel with representatives of international space agencies, Pascale Ehrenfreund presented Germany’s activities and plans in the field of exploration. “Germany intends to grow its technological capabilities in the area of exploration. Smart and autonomous robotic systems that acquire valuable scientific information from the surfaces or orbits of planets and other celestial bodies will be a key factor.” Moreover, the DLR Chair was the Scientific Coordinator for the ‘International Coordination of Exploration Activities’ session, during which she chaired a prominent panel on the same topic.
Hansjörg Dittus gave a talk outlining the current state and future requirements for space-based Earth observation systems. During the subsequent panel on the same issue, he emphasised: “I believe that global change – so the question of climate change, rapid population growth on our planet and the associated question of food security – is the most important area for space applications in this century. We will need satellites and their associated infrastructure to ensure continuous observation and forecasts on the development of the Anthropocene, the epoch in which we are living.” In another talk, Dittus presented DLR’s activities relating to the use of robotic technology for on-site exploration of the Solar System.
Exhibition on current and future DLR missions
The accompanying exhibition at the DLR stand features examples of robotic technologies and other prominent DLR research activities in this field. DLR is showing exhibits from projects and missions under the slogan ‘International Cooperation in Space Research’. They include the NASA Mars mission InSight, for which DLR is contributing one of the main instruments, the HP3 ‘mole’. Touchdown on the Red Planet is scheduled for 26 November 2018. The exhibition also includes the model of the asteroid lander MASCOT, which is part of the Hayabusa2 mission being conducted as a collaborative venture with the Japanese space agency JAXA and the CoRoT Special. Landing is expected on 3 October 2018. Other items belong to potential future missions and projects – among them the 'Tandem-L Sience' radar satellite system, a concept currently proposed by DLR for environmental and climate observation, as well as the design of a space station that could replace the International Space Station (ISS) after the end of its mission.
The COSPAR Space Congress was established in 1958 to promote international collaboration for scientific research in space. It was the dawn of the Space Age –the Soviet satellite Sputnik 1 took off in 1957, followed by the US satellite Explorer 1 in early 1958. Better known as the ‘Committee on Space Research within the International Council for Science’ (ICSU), COSPAR is a forum to share findings, information and opinions on space research. COSPAR gatherings have become important events to establish and strengthen space research partnerships. The biannual COSPAR Scientific Assembly is the most important networking event, featuring presentations of results from a broad spectrum of space science.