The institute has a long-standing heritage in infrared remote sensing and infrared laboratory spectroscopy for planetary surfaces. Infrared remote sensing instrument are integral part of numerous planetary missions. In combination with appropriate analysis techniques and supporting laboratory measurements they provide key information on surface composition and mineralogy. The institute has consolidated all visible and infrared spectroscopy in the Planetary Spectroscopy Laboratory group. Following a recent upgrade the laboratories allow obtaining spectral measurements of planetary analog materials from the UV to the far-infrared and support a wide range of current and future planetary missions.
Planetary missions to the inner terrestrial planets Mercury and Venus pose new challenges for infrared remote sensing. The Planetary Emissivity Laboratory (PEL) operates a planetary simulation chamber connected to a vacuum Fourier Transform Spectrometer (FTIR) that allows measuring sample under vacuum at temperatures up to 1000K. This worldwide unique laboratory facility provides new insights in the behavior of materials at Mercury surface temperature. It is recognized by the European Union since 2009 as a transnational access facility.
The group directly supports the development of new instruments by providing measurements on filter, coatings and materials. Calibration measurements for MERTIS on BepiColombo and MARA on Hayabusa II have been performed in the laboratory. The facilities are also open to industrial partners. In recent years measurements on ceramic powders for 3D printing and rapid prototyping for several industrial partners have been performed.
To handle the increased complexity and volume of hyperspectral datasets the department has focused on developing advanced data analysis and handling techniques including approaches using neural networks and modern data mining techniques.
Building on the infrared remote sensing expertise in DLR the Mercury Radiometer and Thermal infrared Imaging Spectrometer (MERTIS) has been developed and build. MERTIS is a state-of-the-art highly integrated instrument for the BepiColombo mission to Mercury. The flight model was delivered to ESA in July 2013. The group is home to the CoPI of MERTIS and responsible for the data processing, data analysis and science operation of the instrument. Calibration of the instrument using Mercury analog materials at Mercury surface temperatures has been performed successfully at PEL.
This group has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149.
This group partecipates to the Transnational Access (TA) and Virtual Access (VA) (VESPA, GMAP, Machine Learning) in the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) framework and previously to the Transnational Access (TA) in the Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructure (RI).