December 23, 2016

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

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.

Pictures of the year 2016
Video Pictures of the year 2016



Andreas Schütz

Head of Corporate Communications, DLR Spokesperson
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Corporate Communications
Linder Höhe, 51147 Cologne
Tel: +49 2203 601-2474

Dorothee Bürkle

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Media Relations, Energy and Transport Research