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24. August 2023
Making the invisible visible
Chris Willert from the Institute of Propulsion Technology makes flows visible.
Chris Willert deals with what the human eye cannot perceive. He works on the airflows that occur in and around turbines, aircraft wings, combustion chambers and compressors. And also, behind the blades of wind turbines or on road vehicles. Wherever fluids such as air or water flow around objects, measurement technologies must make the invisible visible. To do this, Chris Willert and his team in the Engine Measurement Systems Department at the Institute of Propulsion Technology have mastered a variety of methods. “Optical measurement technology as a field is very heterogeneous and has many disciplines,” he says. However, all measurements have one thing in common. The environment in which they are carried out is always very complex and usually not routine. In our blog, Willert talks about his career, his work at the Institute and in his home laboratory, where he likes to develop and try out new techniques on a small scale.
01. August 2023
The master of more than 2000 heliostats
Engineer Oliver Kaufhold is responsible for the heliostat field at the solar tower in Jülich.
Oliver Kaufhold is the master of 2016 heliostats – movable mirrors that direct sunlight onto the receivers in DLR's two solar towers in Jülich. Ultimately, the weather dictates his daily routine. In the summer, when sunny days are plentiful and there is no cloud cover, the engineer's working days are intense and long. In the winter, it is the crisp cold days when the sun hits the mirrors through a dry atmosphere – unhindered by moisture in the air. On these days, experiments are carried out by DLR and external partners, and Oliver Kaufhold is responsible for operating the heliostat field. In our blog post we introduce you to our engineer.
20. May 2023
A man of many talents - bridging laboratory and workbench
Jens Hauslage is a biologist with a fondness for engineering. (Copyright: DLR)
Jens Hauslage is a rare individual, even given the diverse nature of DLR – he is a botanist. What at first glance may seem to have little connection to DLR’s research areas, is, at closer inspection, intrinsically linked to spaceflight. Gravity, says the biologist, is the only constant in evolution. This raises the question: What influence does gravity have on terrestrial life? Cells, for example, react to microgravity conditions after just a few seconds of exposure. To investigate this, Jens Hauslage studies samples in space or under space-like conditions, on parabolic flights, inside drop towers, on satellites and on sounding rockets such as MAPHEUS. He does so primarily using instruments he built himself, as the biologist is also a keen engineer. In our blog, we introduce the botanist.
19. May 2023
The rocket launchers - DLR’s Mobile Rocket Base MORABA
Making research possible - the team at DLR’s Mobile Rocket Base (MORABA). (Credit: DLR)
They are designers, rocket technicians, computer scientists, flight planners, retrieval experts, communications specialists, craftspeople and logisticians – and what they do is pure rocket science. The team at DLR’s Mobile Rocket Base (Mobile Raketenbasis; MORABA) are facilitators. Their role is to make it possible to conduct research experiments under microgravity conditions on board sounding rockets and return them to Earth. They provide ideal research conditions that are tailored to the scientific requirements of each user and which can be carried out regularly enough to conduct repeat experiments that lead to robust scientific results. But this work requires a very specific kind of person; the MORABA team lives and works at international launch sites for several weeks a year. They must work with propellants and pyrotechnics while keeping a cool head during tense countdowns and enabling research to be carried out in a safe and precise many. This requires a strong set of nerves. In this blog post, we will introduce a number of selected personnel representing the 60-strong team.
16. May 2023
Puppet master for the campaign team
TThomas Voigtmann leads the campaign for the DLR MAPHEUS high-altitude research rocket. (Credit: DLR)
Thomas Voigtmann’s office is a little different from usual at the moment. Out of the window, his gaze falls on pine trees and remnants of snow; to the other side, he looks through panes of glass at the hall where experiments are being prepared for a flight in microgravity. The physicist is at the Esrange Space Center in Sweden with a large team. What he has been working on as Project Manager for the last few months is now taking shape - the MAPHEUS 13 rocket with four experiments from materials physics and space medicine. In our blog we introduce the project manager.
11. May 2023
Waiting for data from Jupiter’s icy moons
Planetary scientist Hauke Hußmann with a sectioned 1:1 model of the optical unit of the GALA laser altimeter.
Since 14 April 2023, the instrument for which planetary scientist Hauke Hußmann has been responsible in recent years has been moving further and further away from him. The GAnymede Laser Altimeter (GALA) is travelling to the Jupiter system on board ESA’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) spacecraft. It will arrive in eight years. Physicist Hußmann is the Principal Investigator for the instrument, that is, the scientific lead. What does the work consist of before such an instrument sets off on its long journey to the exploration site? And what does a researcher actually do during the time when he can neither see nor touch the instrument? In this interview, our planetary scientist tells us what is happening until GALA points its lasers at the surface of Ganymede from a distance of approximately 500 kilometres in the summer of 2031 .
19. April 2023
In the service of human rights
Harald Schneider and Catherine Sinner are responsible for ensuring that human rights are respected in all supply chains.
Harald Schneider is the Human Rights Officer at DLR and Catherine Sinner is a Human Rights Expert. These are two official functions that you probably would not expect to find in a German research institution. Fair wages, occupational health and safety for all employees, workers’ councils and, of course, neither child nor forced labour – for DLR this is all a matter of course. And yet, DLR works with around 10,000 suppliers. Every day, thousands of products and services are ordered so that the scientists can, for example, launch experiments on rockets, develop robots, operate solar towers or research the vehicles of the future. And things might be different for these suppliers. Our blog post shows what the work of our two human rights experts looks like.
13. February 2023
The life of a DLR pilot: a combination of campaign assignments and regular day-to-day tasks
Pilot Thomas Kalfas flies our HALO as well as our Do 228 of DLR's fleet of research aeroplanes. (Copyright: DLR)
Thomas Kalfas is a pilot at DLR. He has flown our HALO research aircraft over the Amazon rainforest in Brazil for the CAFE-Brazil research campaign. As he soared over the endless rainforest, the team of researchers in the cabin behind him used their instruments to study the atmospheric composition. Thomas’ day-to-day life consists of measurement flights and securing approvals, but he also carries out engineering tasks on the computer. As far as he is concerned, this variety of campaign assignments in places like Manaus and desk-based tasks in Oberpfaffenhofen are what make his job so appealing. Thomas explains how he first joined DLR’s Flight Experiments facility as a pilot and how he is currently faring in terms of work-life balance now that he is a father.
02. February 2023
Gathering airborne data, even with a blocked nose
The sensors Christian Mallaun uses to record data during flight are located in the nose of research aircraft HALO. (All images: DLR)
During climate research campaigns like CAFE-Brazil, Christian Mallaun is always running out of time: immediately after each flight, he provides vital data on the temperature, humidity, aircraft position and wind speeds recorded during the measurement flights. The science teams researching the chemical processes in the atmosphere above the Amazon rainforest in Brazil require this information to be able to evaluate the data collected by their own on-board instruments. That’s why Christian takes turns with his colleagues from the Measurement and Sensor Technology group at DLR's Flight Experiments facility to accompany the deployment of the HALO research aircraft. It's a job that requires both accuracy and speed but is never boring. Back at the desk at home, it's time for the detailed analysis.
25. January 2023
Checking HALO to fly safely over Brazil's rainforest
Sandrine Battesti from the DLR Flight Experiments facility - without her meticulous examination of the modifications to the HALO research aircraft, the plane will not take off. (Photos: DLR)
Sandrine Battesti is a very precise person. And at DLR, she has the power to say no. Although such sticklers for detail could be called pedantic, in Sandrine's case it is immensely important that she is as precise as possible. After all, it is her job to check the modifications and equipment installed on our research aircraft, HALO. She is responsible for ensuring that HALO, with its pilots, scientists and all instruments, safely completes its flights over the Amazon. Without her careful scrutiny, there is no approval. If she doesn't give the green light, the plane stays on the ground. In our latest blog post, we show why her work involves copious paperwork and a great deal of responsibility.
18. January 2023
Wings over the Amazon: project management for climate research
Project manager Thomas Sprünken from the Flight Experiments facility is responsible for conducting flight campaigns. (All images: DLR)
These days, Thomas Sprünken’s daily commute takes him through the urban traffic of Manaus. Outside, the temperature is around 30 degrees Celsius and humidity is over 80 percent. The project manager is on his way to the aircraft hangar at the Eduardo Gomes airport that currently houses HALO, the High Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft designed to carry 16 climate research instruments over the tropical rainforest. Thomas is on site with a team of technicians, engineers and pilots from our Flight Experiments facility to get the CAFE-Brazil campaign off the ground. But his work – planning the HALO measurement campaign – started much earlier: read our blog post to find out how the project manager makes it all happen.
16. January 2023
When the engine ignites
Nora Bierwagen joined DLR as a student and is now working on her doctorate at our Reponsive Space Cluster Competence Center in Trauen. There, the 24-year-old scientist is researching hybrid rocket engines. In an interview, she talks about the exciting experiments on the test stand and the impressive feeling when the engine starts to "breathe".
03. January 2023
Learning from mice, naked mole rats and humans
PhD student Titiaan Post studies the effects of oxygen deficiency on humans. (All images: DLR)
Titiaan Post is a doctoral student at our Institute of Aerospace Medicine. The 32-year-old moved to DLR from the Netherlands to conduct research for his doctorate with us. Since then he has conducted several studies with test participants - always on the trail of the effects of oxygen deficiency on the human body and its performance. His role models: Mice and naked mole rats, which react and adapt to oxygen deficiency. A portrait introduces our doctoral student.
25. November 2022
International exchange: across the big pond for networking
Thomas Backhaus strengthened the scientific exchange at NASA and the University of Michigan. (Images: DLR)
Different working cultures, collaboration with PhD students from a variety of nationalities and insights into the latest research currently underway at the University of Michigan and the Glenn Research Center of the U.S. space agency NASA - when Thomas Backhaus returned to DLR in Dresden from his six-week research stay in the USA, his head was full of new impressions and experiences. Our blog post reports on his experience.
23. November 2022
Finding the right candidates using psychology
Living and working in space - it takes a lot to be an astronaut. (Source: ESA/NASA)
When humans set foot on the Moon again in the next few decades, it is very likely that Viktor Oubaid will have already met the European astronaut. Chances are that he knows how this person works in a team, how good his or her memory and concentration skills are, as well as the astronaut's motivation for applying for this somewhat special profession. Oubaid is a psychologist at the DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine and was part of the selection team for both the astronaut class of 2008 and the new astronaut class of 2022. - He tells us what brought him into aerospace psychology and how to test objectively.
14. November 2022
The Moon’s terrestrial outpost - the LUNA facility
The inside of the LUNA hall (Source: DLR/ESA)
Seven hundred square metres and nine meters high – these are the dimensions of the hall in which the Moon will have its earthly outpost from 2024. It is a small outpost when you consider that the Moon has a surface area of almost 38,000,000 square kilometres, and yet the LUNA facility will be the only place in Europe where researchers, astronauts and rovers can ‘travel’ to Earth's satellite in the future and conduct comprehensive mission training. - A report on the research facility that will bring the Moon to Earth.
05. September 2022
Living with half a heart
Preparing the measurements: Prof. Jens Tank (r.) and Wolfram Sies of the DLR Institute for Aerospace Medicin. (Source DLR)
Megan’s feet are resting on the pedals of the exercise bicycle. She has avoided what she is about to do all her life, out of concern for her heart, but in the coming minutes she will push herself to her physical limits. The 29-year-old is a Fontan patient – she was born with a complex heart defect, where the dividing wall between her two ventricles is incomplete. When she exerts herself, her heart is only able to supply her body with the vital oxygen it needs to a limited extent. - A visit to the Hypofon heart study in our research facility :envihab.
10. August 2022
Harnessing atmospheric research and physics to combat sunburn
DLR physicist Julian Meyer-Arnek with his UV-Bodyguard product (Source: DLR)
There are three things you should know about Julian Meyer-Arnek: he loves being outdoors, he has a young daughter, and he is a theoretical physicist and atmospheric researcher. Three years ago, with support from DLR Technology Marketing, the combination of these factors led him to develop and market the UV-Bodyguard, a product that measures UV radiation and warns the user via an app if they are at risk of sunburn. This work saw Julian take on new responsibilities and go on to found the company ajuma GmbH, where he continues to work on improving the product. -
In this interview, the physicist, who works at the German Remote Sensing Data Center, reveals what it needs to develop the UV-Bodyguard.
01. August 2022
LDACS – radio communications for future air transport
Dr. Thomas Gräupl of DLR's Institute of Communication and Navigation is leading the LDACS project. (Source: DLR)
We’re travelling at 700 kilometres per hour, more than 10,000 metres above the ground. Munich’s Theresienwiese, a large area dotted with white tent structures, stretches out below. Again and again, one of the many lakes around Oberpfaffenhofen comes into view. The Falcon aircraft operated by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) flies in a large loop past Munich before returning to the Oberpfaffenhofen site. - A ride in the test campaign LDACS for digital communication between air and ground.
18. July 2022
Remote-controlled sailing through a dock with ‘Josephine’
Matthias Steidel, an information systems specialist, heads the project AMISIA. (Source: DLR)
‘Josephine’ sails slowly through Jarßum harbour towards the quay wall. Arne Lamm and Christian Steger from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Institute of Systems Engineering for Future Mobility are on board the research boat, but neither of them has their hand on the steering wheel or throttle. Instead, the eight-metre-long boat is being steered from the shore, where – from a shipping container equipped as a ship’s bridge – DLR’s Matthias Steidel maintains contact with the crew, while research assistant Janusz Piotrowski of the University of Oldenburg controls the boat. - On board the research vessel "Josephine" and in the control station for the AMISIA project.
20. June 2022
Sensitive robotic assistance systems
Robotic systems as human assistants (Source: DLR/Alexandra Beier)
Imagine picking up a jug, pouring the liquid into a cup and bringing it to your lips. You would make those movements intuitively, without having to give them much thought. You simply hold the jug over the cup, tilt it gently and watch the coffee run into it. The gestures required to drink from the cup happen almost automatically, too. Yet these and other everyday activities, such as opening doors, can be extremely difficult for people with motor impairments. - In the laboratory of our Medical and Healthcare Robotics team.
28. March 2022
Icebreaker voyage to the wreck of the Endurance
DLR Scientist Thomas Busche (Source: DLR/Thomas Busche)
Thomas Busche can still picture that climactic moment in perfect detail. Over the last few days, the research ship S.A.Agulhas II had pushed its way through the mighty pack ice of the Antarctic Weddell Sea. The constant, omnipresent rumble could be heard on all of the decks as the ice floes scraped along the ship’s sides. The search for Endurance, the expedition ship of polar explorer Ernest Shackleton that sank in 1915, had been going on around the clock for days. - Thomas Busche talks about his work and life on board the polar ship.
20. December 2021
Driverless and on-call
The self-driving "emoin" bus in action on the Bergedorf district of Hamburg. (Quelle: DLR/Hüseyin Avsar)
It is a staple of science fiction films: a futuristic, driverless car pulls up at the curb, the passenger gets in and is whisked away to their destination as the self-driving vehicle passes smoothly and effortlessly through the flowing city traffic. This is a vision of on-demand public transport tailored to the customer's indivual requirements. In today's reality, however, it is not that simple with autonomous driving systems. - A report on the journeys of the two mini-buses that drove almost autonomously through Hamburg's residential districts for the "emoin" project.
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