The Australian ambassador Lynette Wood paid a visit to the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen on 16 December 2019. She was welcomed by Prof. Hansjörg Dittus, executive board member for space research and technology. For years there have been close ties to science and business in Australia, earth observation being one of the fields that play a large role in this relationship.
In Oberpfaffenhofen –"the" space locale– the delegation's tour began with space operations at the German Space Operations Center. DLR Space Operations is the central division for implementing space missions in Germany, with specialized facilities in Cologne, Oberpfaffenhofen and Weilheim. Responsibilities range from earth observation satellite missions, science and communications to manned missions and planetary reconnaissance flights.
The ambassador was particularly interested in earth observation, which is part of Australia's strategic agenda and an important aspect of ongoing cooperation between DLR and Australia.
At the Earth Observation Center EOC Prof. Richard Bamler described the research and development activities of the institutes involved in remote sensing. Their scientists are addressing urgent questions affecting society in the areas of environment and climate, mobility and planning, prevention and management of natural disasters, and civil safety and security. Dr. Torsten Riedlinger presented work being undertaken by the Center for Satellite Based Crisis Information (ZKI), in particular an analysis of the bushfires currently raging in Australia. During her visit the ambassador viewed up-to-date satellite images collected by the DLR FireBIRD Satellite mission showing the extent and intensity of the fires.
There are already many strong contacts between the DLR Institute of Communication and Navigation and Australian National University (ANU) in the area of optical communications and quantum technologies, and with the University of Melbourne and Curtin University of Technology (Perth) in the area of satellite navigation. The institute is engaged in the design and analysis of communication and navigation systems for applications in aeronautics, transport and safety. The work ranges from basic research to technology demonstration.
At the conclusion of her visit, Lynette Wood shook hands with the humanoid robot Justin at the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics and was shown high level robotic and medical technology. The medical project SMiLE was described, which is developing concepts and applications to provide effective day-to-day assistance to people with handicaps as well as those requiring care.