Future food production in deserts and cold regions, as well as under the inhospitable conditions of future space missions to the Moon and Mars, is providing the stimulus for research in the Antarctic greenhouse project EDEN ISS, which is led by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR).
In the summer of 2018, the asteroid Ryugu, which measures only approximately 850 metres across, was visited by the Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft. On board was the 10-kilogram German-French Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) – a lander no bigger than a microwave oven and equipped with four instruments.
Ryugu and other asteroids of the common ‘C-class’ consist of more porous material than was previously thought. Small fragments of their material are therefore too fragile to survive entry into the atmosphere in the event of a collision with Earth. This has revealed the long-suspected cause of the deficit of this meteorite type in finds on Earth.
There is a new plan to support the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Mars ‘Mole’ that is part of NASA’s InSight mission. The Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) Mole is a self-driving penetrator that has hammered itself into the Martian subsurface to a depth of approximately 30 centimetres.
A blue box, a cubic metre of Mars-like sand, a rock, a fully-functional model of the Mars 'Mole' and a seismometer – these are the main components with which the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is simulating the current situation on Mars.
The compact German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Eu:CROPIS satellite is now rotating in space at a rate of 17.5 revolutions per minute, generating a gravitational force in its interior similar to that found on the Moon. After its launch on 3 December 2018, DLR engineers successfully tested and commanded the spacecraft.
For several years, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has been focusing its research activities on developing concepts for making future European launch vehicles as reusable as possible. The aim is to reduce the cost of satellite launches while also improving the environmental compatibility of rockets.
As part of NASA’s InSight mission, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) developed a penetrometer designed to dig three to five metres below the surface of Mars and measure the heat emanating from the planet’s interior.
It stands vertically on flat ground, ready for its historic mission. At 19:18 CET on 12 February 2019, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP³) or 'Mole' was deployed on the Martian surface using the NASA InSight mission's robotic arm.
Paul Zabel spent some 365 days in Antarctica – 257 of them isolated from the outside world – relying only on himself and his comrades in the overwintering crew. The Antarctic gardener, who works at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), has tested the cultivation of vegetables for missions to the Moon and Mars in the EDEN ISS greenhouse, and has succeeded in growing peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and different varieties of lettuce and herbs under artificial light.
It was a task that required centimetre precision. Over the last few weeks, researchers from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have measured every rock shown in the images of the InSight landing site and used the radiometer that is part of the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP³) experiment to analyse the dust on the surface of Mars, in order to determine the ideal point for deploying the InSight mission's instruments.
+++ Update: The Eu:CROPIS mission of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) was successfully launched to space. Following the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on 3 December 2018 at 19:34 CET (10:34 Pacific Standard Time), the DLR satellite was successfully placed in orbit at an altitude of 600 kilometres. First radio contact of the approximately refrigerator-sized satellite to the German Space Operations Center (GSOC) in Oberpfaffenhofen took place about one hour and 15 minutes after the launch. In the next two weeks, GSOC will commission the satellite in space and test all functions. In about seven weeks, the researchers will be able to put the first of two greenhouses into operation. Shortly thereafter, the first tomatoes will be cultivated. +++
Just a few weeks from now, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) HP3 Mole will start hammering its way automatically into the subsoil of the Red Planet to measure its inner heat.
On 29 October 2018, the Institute for the Protection of Maritime Infrastructures of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) was opened in Bremerhaven. Operating against the backdrop of the Energy Transition, digitalisation, innovative mobility and global connectivity, the new institute will focus on the task of protecting vital infrastructures such as ports and offshore wind farms against accidents and terrorist or other attacks. It is the first of its kind in Europe.
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.
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 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.
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 Antarctic greenhouse EDEN ISS has weathered the polar night – as well as Antarctic storms and temperatures below minus 40 degrees Celsius – in its practical test under the direction of the German Aerospace Center (DLR). It has been yielding herbs, lettuce and freshly harvested vegetables to the 10-member overwintering crew in the Alfred Wegener Institute’s Neumayer Station III for the first time since the beginning of 2018. After more than half a year of operation in Antarctica, the self-sufficient greenhouse concept appears to be effective for climatically demanding regions on Earth, as well as for future manned missions to the Moon and Mars. DLR researcher Paul Zabel is overcoming challenges, as well as acquiring knowledge from cultivating plants under such harsh conditions. To the overwintering team, the fresh greens are a welcome change during their long-term isolation. Zabel will report on his experiences in a live transmission from Antarctica on 13 September 2018.