After a 10-year journey of some seven billion kilometres, the Rosetta mission is now heading towards its next major milestone – setting the lander Philae on a comet.
The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has been commissioned by the World Bank to investigate Pakistan’s potential for the exploitation of solar energy. DLR researchers will be using satellite data and ground measurements to generate a radiation map showing the best regions for solar power generation in Pakistan.
Among the most interesting landforms on Mars are features referred to as 'chaotic terrain'. Dozens or even hundreds of isolated mountains up to 2000 metres high are scattered in these extensive regions. Seen from orbit, they form a bizarre, chaotic pattern.
The Dii (Desertec Industrial Initiative) has been dissolved in its current form, and will now only continue to exist as a consultancy firm. Robert Pitz-Paal, Director of DLR's Institute of Solar Research, explains his view of how the idea of power generation using solar thermal power plants in sunny regions will continue to develop.
The radar satellite TerraSAR-X has been orbiting the Earth since June 2007; in June 2010 its twin, TanDEM-X, followed it into space. For almost four years, the two satellites have been operated in a close flight formation by DLR.
Volcanic ash can cause serious problems for aviation. Under Project VolcATS-Vehicle, researchers from DLR are investigating the effects of volcanic ash on aircraft.
Thunderclouds over rainforests are an important element in the climate system. The DLR research aircraft HALO spent the period from the beginning of September to the beginning of October 2014 in Manaus, a city in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, measuring the emergence, development and properties of tropical clouds.
In mid September, the site where the Philae lander will touch down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was selected – landing site 'J'. Now, there is a detailed timetable for the descent of Philae. The lander will undock from the Rosetta spacecraft at 09:35 CET on 12 November 2014 at a distance of approximately 22.5 kilometres from the centre of the comet and land on the surface about seven hours later.
Since the Icelandic volcano system of Bardarbunga began erupting, concerns about a volcanic ash cloud spreading across Europe and bringing air traffic to a standstill, as occurred in April 2010, have arisen once again. To enable the aviation industry to respond to volcanic ash more flexibly in the future, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) has been developing an improved satellite-supported volcanic ash detection system as part of Project VolcATS (Volcanic Ash Impact on the Air Transport System). DLR researchers are using improved views of the situation to investigate how air traffic management can adapt flexibly to large-scale airspace restrictions caused by volcanic ash
Aircraft engine noise is a socially pressing issue with a wide range of causes. Until now, turbulent fluctuations in the exhaust gas stream have not been fully understood as one of the major sources of noise. Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have now managed to make these turbulent flow structures in the engine exhaust gases visible using imaging laser measurement technology, and they have measured the overall flow behind the engine with unprecedented quality. Future generations of engines will be able to benefit from this new knowledge.
The 2014 harvest season is coming to an end, and throughout Germany the signs are of good yields for wheat, corn and similar crops. But the differences are large depending on the location. Hence, for optimum cultivation, it is important to be constantly aware of the condition of the soil and the crops. Radar images are particularly suitable for providing large-scale observations – using an aircraft or a satellite.
To support the safety of air transport and improve the air traffic system's response times in the critical event of a volcanic eruption, the identification of ash-free airspace is essential. At DLR, a satellite-supported procedure has been developed that rapidly determines the distribution of ash in the air and generates detailed images of areas with both heavy and light ash loads.
On 20 April 2014, the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on the ESA Mars Express spacecraft, which is operated by DLR, imaged the northern part of the enormous Argyre Planitia impact basin in the southern hemisphere of Mars. At that time, it was deep winter in the area, as can easily be seen from the ground frost covering the interior of Hooke Crater and large sections of the landscape in the image.
The lava outflow on the Holuhraun field northeast of Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano continues unabated. The lava field has grown to cover an area greater than 25 square kilometres.
When the Philae lander touches down on 11 November 2014, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko will have a landing site waiting for it with a varied but not too rugged landscape offering good solar illumination and hardly any steep slopes. In a two-day selection process, the lander team under the leadership of DLR selected landing site 'J' from among five possible candidates.
The Bardarbunga volcano on Iceland began erupting on 31 August 2014 – an effusive eruption with no ejection of volcanic ash. However, measurements made by DLR have since indicated that there is ongoing emission of sulphur dioxide (SO2). High sulphur dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are a clear indication of volcanic activity, as there are no other natural emission sources, only anthropogenic ones.
Lucie Poulet, from DLR, spent four months living 'on Mars', donning a spacesuit to explore the Red Planet and cultivating vegetables inside the domed Mars station. To do all this, she did not have to move away from her home planet, Earth.
Pumping fuel with no bubbles is no problem at the filling station around the corner, but it certainly is in the microgravity environment of space. The fourth and final series of the Capillary Channel Flow (CCF) experiments on the International Space Station (ISS), which began on 5 August 2014, has just come to an end.
Bardarbunga, (Bárðarbunga) in Iceland, one of the largest volcanoes in Europe and located beneath the biggest glacier in Europe, became active again in mid-August. For several years now, DLR researchers have been keeping a close eye on Bardarbunga and the system of volcanoes associated with it – an enormous network of subterranean magma channels, vents and craters.
In the latest issue of the DLR Magazine, we take you 400 million kilometres away for a close encounter with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The Rosetta spacecraft has been circling the comet since the beginning of August 2014. On board it is the Philae lander, which will land on the comet in November - a first in the history of spaceflight.