July 17, 2017 | DLR presents its research at the MAKS 2017 show in Moscow

Cosmic guardians, virtual rover missions and a hopping lander

  • DLR showcases its space research at the MAKS show in Moscow
  • The DLR exhibits are spread over 120 square metres in Hall F3, Stand A9
  • Focus: Space, Exploration, Remote sensing

From 18 to 23 July 2017, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) will present satellite models, simulators and experiments for space missions at Russia’s national aviation and aerospace show – the Moscow International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS. The DLR exhibits are spread over 120 square metres in Hall F3, Stand A9. The biennial show attracted over 400,000 participants and guests in 2015. Over 870 companies and organisations participated.

"The DLR exhibits will showcase the full range of its space research – from data acquisition for climate protection and experiments for manned spaceflight to the exploration of the Solar System using autonomous landing systems," emphasises Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the DLR Executive Board. This will include Earth observation satellites belonging to the Sentinel family, the fire detection satellite BIROS and the asteroid lander MASCOT, among others. "DLR frequently conducts research within national and international collaborations – and the anniversaries of the MIR'92 and MIR’97 missions are evidence of the long-standing cooperation with our Russian partners," adds Ehrenfreund. Twenty five years ago, Klaus-Dietrich Flade became the first German cosmonaut to take up residence in the Russian space station Mir; his fellow German cosmonaut Reinhold Ewald travelled to Mir five years later.

ROBEX: computer simulation and field experiments on Mount Etna

Exploring distant celestial bodies and deep sea research have more in common than one might initially think: in both areas, researchers operate in unknown terrain and need to ensure that rovers are able to conduct their scientific experiments as autonomously as possible. A Helmholtz Alliance of 16 German research institutes from the areas of deep sea and space research came together in the ROBEX (Robotic Exploration under Extreme Conditions) mission with the objective of developing shared technologies for the research of inaccessible regions. DLR and its partners obtained the practical research findings on Mount Etna, Sicily, in June 2017. But before they got going, the necessary scenarios were first tested on computers. The mission simulator allows the researchers to control a virtual LRU (Lightweight Rover Unit) on the Moon, using it to collect sensor units from a lander and position them at predefined points on the Moon’s surface. The insight acquired from this simulation was used to develop the rover and its instruments.

Copernicus – Europe's Earth observation programme in space

Members of government, industry and science require reliable and up-to-date information in order to make decisions. Copernicus, the Earth observation programme by the European Union (EU) and the European Space Agency (ESA), aims to provide this information based on Earth observation data. To do this, data from satellite-assisted Earth observation systems is linked to data acquired by ground, sea and air facilities. The Copernicus - EU services analyse and process these vast quantities of data to create publicly accessible and free products for the benefit of various user groups. Application areas include land observation, as well as observation of the maritime environment, the atmosphere and support for disaster relief and crisis management. Copernicus consists of the Sentinel family and other contributing missions, a series of Earth observation satellites built specifically for the programme, which are operated by ESA from ground-based systems.

Electronic nose for the space station ISS

Closed systems like the International Space Station (ISS) experience particular environmental conditions that foster elevated microbial growth of bacteria and fungi. These organisms attack the materials on the ISS. A synthetic nose – the e-Noses uccessfully sniffed microbial contamination in the Russian sector from December 2012 to May 2013 by analysing substances that microorganisms emit into the atmosphere. Now the e-Nose will be upgraded together with the Russian partner, the Institute for Biomedical Problems (IBMP): a modified e-Nose is scheduled to start measuring the astronauts’ health and stress levels by analysing their exhalation gases from 2018.

FireBIRD – satellite-based fire detection

FireBIRD website with further details is an Earth observation mission whose main task is to detect fire from space. This includes the identification and measurement of so-called high temperature events and the provision of remote sensing data for scientific research by DLR and external partners. The mission pursues exclusively scientific objectives, and all segments of this Earth observation mission are controlled by DLR.

MASCOT – landing on an asteroid

Developed by DLR and the French space agency CNES, the asteroid lander MASCOT is currently en route to the asteroid Ryugu (1999 JU3). The Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout began its journey through space on board the Japanese orbiter Hayabusa2 on 3 December 2014. It will reach its destination in summer 2018. While the Hayabusa2 orbiter is programmed to fly close to the asteroid and ‘inhale’ material for transport back to Earth, MASCOT itself will touch down on Ryugu and conduct measurements at various points on the surface of an asteroid for the first time in history. The four instruments fitted on board are designed to analyse the mineralogical and geological composition of the asteroid's surface and to measure its surface temperature and magnetic field. Once it has deployed all instruments, MASCOT will activate its swing arm to hop several metres to the next site.

Using eROSITA to track down dark energy

The Universe has been expanding since the Big Bang, driven by dark energy, a phenomenon that to this day has seen insufficient scientific research. Intended to bring light into the darkness, the space telescope eROSITA (extended Roentgen Survey with an Imaging Telescope Array) will set off for space in 2018, fitted on board the Russian satellite Spectrum-X-Gamma. From its observation post in space, the second Lagrange Point, it will scan the entire heavens in hitherto unparalleled precision from a distance of around 1.5 million kilometres from Earth. In this way, the instrument owned by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics and funded by DLR will provide deeper insight into the structure and origin of the Universe.


Manuela Braun

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