On 15 November 2018 at 11:40 CET, the mission team in the Biotechnology Space Support Center (BIOTESC) at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts watched with baited breath. After two-and-a-half years of highly intensive preparations, as well as countless testing and training sessions with CIMON on Earth, you could hear a pin drop – there was an atmosphere of total concentration and thrilled anticipation.
At 19:31 CET on 19 November 2018, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Eu:CROPIS mission will be launched into space from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. A Falcon 9 from the US aerospace company SpaceX will carry two biological life support systems comprising greenhouses, dwarf tomato seeds, single-celled algae and synthetic urine on a satellite up to a near-Earth orbit at an altitude of 600 kilometres.
Whether alone or in a constellation, small satellites weighing from just a few kilograms (nanosatellites) up to several hundred kilograms (micro- and minisatellites) are becoming increasingly technologically sophisticated and have the potential to fundamentally change the space industry.
On 7 November 2018 at 01:47 CET, the European weather satellite MetOp-C was launched on board a Soyuz rocket from the European spaceport in French Guiana. MetOp-C will join two structurally identical satellites, MetOp-A and MetOp-B, which were launched in October 2006 and September 2012, respectively.
An extraordinary mission has drawn to an end, after the NASA space probe Dawn fell silent on 31 October. On 27 September 2007, Dawn set off to explore the asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres, which are located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
These images acquired by the DLR-operated High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board the ESA Mars Express spacecraft show Greeley Crater on Mars. It was named after the US scientist Ronald Greeley, who passed away in 2011. In addition to being a pioneer in the field of planetary geology, he was a member of the HRSC experiment team from the very outset, and was also Co-investigator of the HRSC.
On Wednesday 17 October 2018, the German research satellite Eu:CROPIS left its manufacturing site, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) in Bremen.
The European-Japanese planetary mission BepiColombo lifted off from the European spaceport in French Guiana at 03:45 Central European Summer time on 20 October 2018 (22:45 on 19 October local time), on board an Ariane 5 launch vehicle.
Six minutes of free fall, a gentle impact on the asteroid and then 11 minutes of rebounding until coming to rest. That is how, in the early hours of 3 October 2018, the journey of the MASCOT asteroid lander began on Asteroid Ryugu – a land full of wonder, mystery and challenges.
The 90-metre TanDEM-X Digital Elevation Model has been released for scientific use and is now available as a global dataset. By providing this data, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) follows the EU data policy under the Copernicus Earth observation programme, which encourages free and open access to satellite data.
It was a day full of exciting moments and a happy team of scientists and engineers: late in the afternoon of 3 October 2018, the German-French lander MASCOT completed its historic exploration of the surface of the asteroid Ryugu at 21:04 CEST, as its battery ran out. On-asteroid operations were originally scheduled to last 16 hours after separation from the Japanese mothercraft Hayabusa2.
The near-Earth asteroid Ryugu, located approximately 300 million kilometres from Earth, has a new inhabitant: On 3 October 2018, the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) landed on the asteroid and began to work. The lander successfully separated from the Japanese Hayabusa2 space probe at 03:58 CEST.
Alexander Gerst will undoubtedly never forget 3 October 2018 – on the 'Day of German Unity', the 42-year old geophysicist and astronaut will be the first German and second European to become Commander of the International Space Station (ISS). The ceremony aboard the ISS will last from 04:10 to 16:30 CEST and be broadcast live on the Internet by NASA and ESA.
The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), and Teledyne Brown Engineering presented the first images of the DESIS hyperspectral Earth observation instrument at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC). The instrument was mounted to the exterior of the International Space Station on 27 August 2018.
On 2 October 2018, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, DLR), European Space Agency (ESA) and Air Liquide signed the 'LUNA Energy Project' cooperation agreement at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Bremen.
If everything goes according to plan, the moment will finally come on 3 October 2018. Early in the morning, at 03:58:15 CEST, the asteroid lander MASCOT will separate from the Hayabusa2 space probe and land on the surface of Ryugu a few minutes later. From the first moment of contact with the surface, this will be a journey into the unknown, as MASCOT could come to rest almost anywhere within a radius of about 200 metres from the point of touchdown, after bouncing a few times.
International experts from aerospace agencies, research and industry will gather at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) from 1 to 5 October 2018. The International Astronautical Federation (IAF) has chosen Bremen as its venue this year. IAF represents 320 organisations from six continents and 68 countries. Workshops, tours and technical sessions with talks, round-table discussions and an exhibition will provide numerous opportunities for dialogue.
The German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst has been orbiting Earth on board the International Space Station (ISS) since 8 June 2018. Gerst, the NASA astronaut Serena Maria Auñón-Chancellor and the Russian cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyev have all sorts of scientific experiments to conduct.
On 25 September 2018, Matthias Maurer graduated as an astronaut – an accolade granted following basic cosmonaut training – thereby receiving formal approval for a flight into space.
A thin layer of silvery-white ice clouds exists on the edge of our atmosphere. Known as noctilucent clouds or polar mesospheric clouds (PMCs), they form at 83 kilometres above the poles of our Earth during summer. A recent NASA long-duration balloon mission carrying an instrument developed by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) on board was able to observe these clouds over the course of almost six days at their place of origin in the mesosphere.