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2016 at DLR - A timely discovery, popcorn floating in the sea and a visit by the German Chancellor

Das Forschungsflugzeug HALO im norwegischen Kiruna

23 December 2016

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  • Das Forschungsflugzeug HALO im norwegischen Kiruna
    HALO research aircraft at Kiruna in northern Sweden

    At the end of January 2016, atmospheric researchers used the High Altitude Long Range Research Aircraft (HALO) and the Falcon 20E research aircraft to conduct coordinated climate research measurement flights. For the first time, they succeeded in measuring gravity waves and airglow almost in their entirety.

  • Startschuss für Europas "Datenautobahn im All"
    Launch of Europe's ‘Data Highway in Space’

    On 29 January 2016, the initial node of the EDRS (European Data Relay System) was launched into space. In geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometres above Earth, the system will in future send very large quantities of data from Earth observation satellites to Earth in real-time.

  • Schiffsfahrt bei Wind und Wetter vor Helgoland
    Ships sailing in wind and poor weather off Heligoland

    In mid February 2016, DLR used two ships to investigate digital transmission channels at broadband frequencies in the North Sea. The aim of the research was broadband communication that allows rescue vessels to provide initial medical instructions while travelling to the scene of a disaster, for example.

  • 1978: Das erste Wasserstoff%2dAuto Europas
    1978: Europe's first hydrogen car

    In 2016, DLR celebrated 40 years of energy research and reflected on some of its major milestones and key successes – such as the first car in Europe to be fuelled by hydrogen, which was developed by DLR in Stuttgart.

  • Verfolgungsjagd im Hochgeschwindigkeitszug
    Pursuit in a high-speed train

    Data transmission between two high-speed trains was investigated during a measurement campaign on a rail route between Naples and Rome in mid April 2016. Secure communication systems are important to ensure that in future trains can autonomously connect – and if necessary disconnect –whilst in motion, for example.

  • Europäische Umweltsatelliten im All
    European environmental satellites in space

    On 25 April 2016, the Sentinel-1B Earth observation satellite lifted off into space to support its twin satellite, Sentinel-1A, at an altitude of 693 kilometres. Both satellites will follow the same orbit, 180 degrees apart, in order to monitor Earth's terrestrial and marine ecosystems during the day and night.

  • Bundeskanzlerin Merkel besucht DLR und ESA in Köln
    Chancellor Angela Merkel visits DLR and ESA in Cologne

    On 18 May 2016, Chancellor Merkel visited DLR and the European Astronaut Centre (EAC), at the invitation of German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst.

  • Neuer Raketenprüfstand für sichere Ariane6%2dStarts
    New rocket test rig for safe Ariane 6 launches

    The future European launcher, Ariane 6, will launch into space in 2020. In order for it to bring all its payloads safely to their orbits, its engines must first be thoroughly tested. A test rig is therefore scheduled to be commissioned at Lampoldshausen in 2018.

  • Nachbau des ersten Lilienthal%2dGleiters
    Replica of the first Lilienthal glider

    DLR has reproduced Otto Lilienthal's ‘normal glider’ according to his original plans, using appropriate materials, and scientifically tested the aerodynamic qualities of the 20-kilogram glider, which has a wingspan of 6.70 metres. The result: an unfavourable thermal and not a construction defect may have led to Lilienthal's fatal accident.

  • Waldbrandfrüherkennung durch Feuerdetektionssatellit BIROS
    Early forest fire detection by BIROS fire detection satellite

    On 22 June 2016, the refrigerator-sized BIROS microsatellite launched into space and has since been orbiting Earth at an altitude of 515 kilometres. As well as forest fires, BIROS can also detect volcanic activity, gas flares and industrial hotspots.

  • Neuartiges Zug%2dCrashkonzept für mehr Sicherheit in der Zukunft
    A new kind of rail crash concept for improved future safety

    In order to protect passengers and crew from rail collisions and minimise the consequences of accidents, an innovative crash concept was tested in early August 2016. This crash concept was developed as part of the extensive research work of the Next Generation Train (NGT) project.

  • Höhenkrankheitsstudie auf über 4500 Meter Höhe
    Altitude sickness study at an altitude of over 4500 metres

    Ten test subjects took part in a week-long aerospace-medical study of altitude sickness in a mountain hut in the Valais Alps in late August 2016. The aim was to find out whether altitude sickness actually makes the vessel walls permeable to fluid and protein.

  • Entdeckung und Abschied von Philae
    Discovery of and farewell to Philae

    After a 10-year journey through space, the Rosetta comet orbiter reached the orbit of the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet in August 2014. In November 2014, the washing machine-sized Philae probe landed on the comet and sent data from its surface. As Philae had eventually landed some distance from its original landing site, scientists had long been unable to determine the probe's exact location. They only recently discovered the landing craft, during the run up to the end of the mission in September 2016.

  • Popcorn auf dem Meer
    Popcorn at sea

    Hijacked ferries, people overboard – in early September 2016, DLR researchers and their project partner, EMSec (Real-Time Services for Maritime Security) spent a week rehearsing various maritime security scenarios in the German Bight near Heligoland. A blanket of popcorn was used to simulate a dangerous substance in the sea, such as an oil slick, for example.

  • Bessere Wettervorhersagen
    Better weather forecasts

    In September 2016, researchers used the DLR's HALO research aircraft to study the atmosphere in the weather kitchen over the North Atlantic. The data is intended to help provide better weather forecasts from the complicated conditions.

  • Erstflug für viersitziges Brennstoffzellenflugzeug
    First flight of four-passenger fuel cell aircraft

    In September 2016, HY4, the first four-seater passenger aircraft powered solely by a fuel cell system, embarked on its first flight from Stuttgart airport.

  • Wiesn von oben
    Oktoberfest from above

    With the help of a DLR camera system, researchers observed the 2016 Oktoberfest from above during a flight over the event. The data collected is intended to help emergency and rescue crews effectively manage visitor flows and guarantee rescue logistics.

  • Turmkraftwerk in Nevada/USA
    Tower power plant in Nevada/USA

    A DLR study published in October 2016 shows that under today's conditions, the combination of solar thermal power plants and photovoltaic plants is usually more cost-effective than the use of just one of the two technologies.

  • Leiser Landen
    Softer landing

    In November, softer landing approaches as a result of a newly developed pilot assistance system were tested in Frankfurt, using the A320 ATRA (Advanced Technology Research Aircraft) research aircraft.

A test simulating crashes between high-speed trains, hunting for clouds in West Africa, the maiden flight of a four-passenger fuel cell aircraft – 2016 at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has been a year of numerous research highlights. Visit our photo gallery to view a selection of these highlights as well as our DLR year in review film.

Discovery of the missing lander Philae

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited DLR and ESA in May, where she announced that the German astronaut Alexander Gerst will embark on a second space mission to the International Space Station in 2018. The German fire detection satellite BIROS was launched in June, and now orbits Earth at an altitude of 515 kilometres, where it detects forest fires and other high temperature events. In the days that preceded the end of the Rosetta mission in September 2016, scientists spotted the landing craft Philae in a picture acquired by Rosetta. Due to Philae's 'unexpected' landing site in November 2014, moved away from the originally planned site, the scientists had not been able to pin down its exact location. Knowing the landing site, the researchers can better classify the data of the landing device. More events and highlights from the past year can be found on our space page.

In the steps of Otto Lilienthal

DLR scientists tested a full-scale replica of Otto Lilienthal's flying machine in the wind tunnel and were therefore able to acquire new insight into the causes of the aviation pioneer's crash more than one century ago. DLR's High Altitude Long Range Research Aircraft (HALO) and Falcon travelled the world in 2016, conducting atmospheric measurements, for example above West Africa where the air is polluted by forest fires. The A320 ATRA (Advanced Technology Research Aircraft) was in Frankfurt in November, where it carried out tests on quieter landing approaches. All of the highlights of DLR's aeronautics research can be found on our aeronautics page.

Electric flight

The HY4, the world's first four-passenger aircraft powered solely by a hydrogen fuel cell battery system, took off on its maiden flight from Stuttgart Airport in September. Hydrogen was, already in the 1970s, an important alternative fuel for DLR research, and Europe's first car was fuelled by hydrogen at DLR, where the first car in Europe was refuelled. For 40 years now, DLR has been conducting research into the issues of energy and energy efficiency, and last year looked back on the milestones in DLR energy research and the impetus it has given to energy policy. More events and highlights from the past year can be found on our energy page.

Crash test for trains

In August, DLR scientists demonstrated during a crash test for high-speed trains that an innovative lightweight wagon design, with a new crash concept, is able to absorb a large proportion of the impact energy. New communication systems between high-speed train were also tested by DLR researchers during night trips by rail in Italy. Visit our transport page for additional highlights.

Popcorn on the sea

Hijacked ferries and the hunt for a man overboard – for one week at the beginning of September, DLR scientists and their partners in the EMSec project (Real-time Services for Maritime Security) travelled to the German Bight off the island of Heligoland to test, in a variety of scenarios, how maritime security can be preserved. In the PHAROS Project (Project on a Multi-Hazard Open Platform for Satellite Based Downstream Services), DLR pilots and scientists in Catalonia showed how remote sensing images can be used successfully in disaster management during forest fires. Visit our security page for additional highlights.

Last modified:
22/05/2018 11:36:22



Andreas Schütz
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) - German Aerospace Center

Tel.: +49 2203 601-2474

Fax: +49 2203 601-3249
Dorothee Bürkle
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Media Relations, Energy and Transport Research

Tel.: +49 2203 601-3492

Fax: +49 2203 601-3249