In early October 2018, the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) lander is expected to be in operation for approximately 16 hours on the Ryugu asteroid. The selection of the landing site will take place this August. The ideal site must firstly offer the MASCOT team engineers excellent conditions for a safe landing and stable operation on the asteroid, while providing the researchers with a wealth of new and productive measurements.
Scientists and engineers have been waiting nearly four years for the Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft – which is carrying the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) lander that was developed and constructed by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) – to reach its destination: the asteroid Ryugu.
As the Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft closes in on asteroid Ryugu, more details become visible to the planetary scientists. On 20 July 2018, from a distance of just six kilometres, the spacecraft’s Optical Navigation Camera - Telescopic (ONC-T) acquired an image of the asteroid’s surface, with its largest crater. "We see that the entire surface of Ryugu is strewn with large boulders – we have not yet seen this on an asteroid," says Ralf Jaumann, a planetary scientist at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Principal Investigator for the MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout) lander aboard the Japanese spacecraft. It is anticipated that on 3 October 2018, MASCOT will land on Ryugu and examine the asteroid surface using four instruments.
On 25 July 2018 at 13:25 CEST (08:25 local time), four more satellites for the Galileo civil European navigation system will be launched into space on board an Ariane 5 launcher from the European spaceport in Kourou (French Guiana). The Galileo ‘family’ will have 26 members with the addition of ‘Tara’, ‘Samuel’, ‘Anna’ and ‘Ellen’, each of which weighs the same as their predecessors – 715 kilograms. “All of the satellites will orbit Earth at an altitude of 23,222 kilometres. Accordingly, our constellation is almost complete and can now ensure almost complete global coverage with Galileo signals,” reports René Kleeßen, Galileo Programme Manager at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Space Administration in Bonn.
How can ever-larger volumes of scientific data be processed and evaluated? And how can Earth observation data be meaningfully combined with ground measurements, thereby opening up new sources of information? In the cross-sectoral Big Data Platform project, researchers from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) are devising new methods for the future-oriented field of Big Data Science. The interdisciplinary research project involves 21 DLR institutes from the research fields of spaceflight, aeronautics, transport, energy, digitalisation and security – all working together. The project is set to run for four years and has received more than 21 million euro of funding.
The German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst has been on the International Space Station (ISS) for over a month, and he has been conducting experiments that scientists have sent into space for him. This week, his activities included putting on two small tracking devices, which allow researchers from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) to track his movements.
On 6 July 2018 at 03:15 CEST (01:15 UTC), it was time. The team at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) MASCOT Control Center in Cologne received the first signals from the German-French asteroid lander MASCOT upon its arrival at the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu.
A new 'cyber colleague' is on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) to join German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst. CIMON and six other experiments for the 'horizons' mission lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Friday, 29 June 2018 at 11:42 CEST (05:42 local time) on board a US Dragon capsule with a Falcon 9 launcher.
The Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft has made a 3200-million-kilometre journey with the German-French Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) lander on board. The two spacecraft have been travelling through the Solar System since December 2014, culminating in an approach manoeuvre to the near-Earth asteroid that has lasted several weeks and was completed on 27 June 2018.
On board the International Space Station (ISS), the German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst and the other crewmembers of expedition 56/57 have begun working on the first experiments in the European Columbus research module. These include the Myotones experiment, which will examine Gerst's skeletal musculature.
The EDEN ISS greenhouse has been in the Antarctic for nearly six months, and for four of these, Paul Zabel from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has been operating the greenhouse on his own. It is now fully operational. Paul Zabel harvests an average of 740 grams of tomatoes, 1.8 kilograms of cucumbers, and 400 grams of kohlrabi every week, in addition to various herbs, lettuce and radish varieties.
From 19 June 2018, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is presenting current highlights from the field of automation and robotics at 'automatica 2018'. The focus is on the 'Factory of the Future', with research work and projects for intelligent, autonomous and collaborative production using lightweight robots.
Update: On 8 June 2018 at 17:17 CEST, the hatch was opened and Alexander Gerst and the two other crew members of ISS Expedition 56-57 exited the Soyuz spacecraft and entered the International Space Station ISS. This is Gerst's second mission to the space station, where he will live and work for six months.
When the parabolic flight aircraft, the Airbus A310 ZERO-G, takes off from Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport on 5 June 2018, it will be a 'first' in several respects: for the first time, only life science experiments will be exposed to three very different gravity conditions during a joint campaign by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), the European Space Agency (ESA) and French space agency CNES (Centre national d'études spatiales; CNES).
Astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS) use the Columbus research laboratory to conduct numerous experiments for researchers around the world. The Columbus Control Centre (Col-CC) in the German Space Operations Center (GSOC), which is located at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) site in Oberpfaffenhofen.
Two June 2018 will mark 15 years since the launch of the European Mars Express spacecraft. Still in orbit around the Red Planet, Mars Express is one of the most successful space missions to be sent to Earth's planetary neighbour. One of the instruments still in operation is the German High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC).
Effective monitoring of greenhouse gases is required to achieve ambitious targets for limiting greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the sources and sinks of greenhouse gases must be understood as precisely as possible to produce reliable climate forecasts. From mid-May to mid-June 2018, a flight test campaign led by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is contributing to this international effort.
How can artificial intelligence (AI) help astronauts do their work in space, and what can be learned for its application on Earth? How do living cells behave in a microgravity environment? What does an extended period in space do to an astronaut's immune system?
Space research, courtesy of schoolchildren: this and other experiments for the horizons mission of the German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst are now en route to the International Space Station (ISS). The experiments are being carried by a Cygnus transporter on board an Antares rocket that took off from Wallops Island, Virginia (United States) at 10:44 CEST (04:44 local time) on 21 May 2018, bound for the ISS, where it will dock on 24 May.
Eighteen months after achieving their previous record, researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) - this time together with ADVA, a leading provider of open networking solutions - set a new record for data transmission using free-space laser communications - 13.16 terabits per second. At this data rate, the content of all printed the books in the world could be transmitted in approximately 30 seconds. The IP traffic in Germany in 2020, which is expected to grow to 144 petabytes per day, could also be supported. However, the actual goal is to provide broadband Internet via satellite to rural areas that are not connected to the terrestrial network infrastructure. For that purpose, according to the BATS study, an aggregate data rate of three to four terabits per second would be required to serve all of Europe.