Video: ESA Astronauts Discuss Landing in Soyuz Spacecraft

Video Caption: Take a break with ESA astronauts Alexander Gerst, Samantha Cristoforetti, Luca Parmitano and Thomas Pesquet as they discuss living and working in space. In this video, our astronauts talk about their experiences of landing in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft upon returning from the International Space Station.

During a shared coffee break, Luca compares his first landing to his most recent landing – the second of which he found much softer than the first. Thomas finds humour in his experience of landing horizontally, while Alex describes a particularly high gravitational load on his return to Earth.

This clip is part of a series of four filmed in February 2020, following Luca’s return from the ISS mission on 6 February. It was filmed in the crew quarters of the German Aerospace Center DLR’s :envihab facility next to ESA’s European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany.

For more about Luca’s Beyond mission and other ESA astronaut-related content, visit the Exploration blog: https://blogs.esa.int/exploration/

CIMON-2 Makes Successful Debut on the ISS

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano works with CIMON-2 aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany, 15 April 2020 (Airbus PR) – CIMON-2, the updated version of the CIMON astronaut assistant, developed and built by Airbus for the German Aerospace Center Space Administration (DLR), has now demonstrated its capabilities during initial tests on the International Space Station (ISS).

(more…)

Europlanet Launches 10 Million Euro Research Infrastructure Supporting Planetary Science

The Planetary Spectroscopy Laboratory (PSL) at the DLR Institute of Planetary Research – a laboratory for the spectroscopic investigation of planetary simulants (terrestrial rocks ground into rock dust, such as those found on the Earth-like planets of the Solar System) – offers globally unique research opportunities. Here, the reflection properties and emissions of samples can be measured under extremely high temperatures of up to 500 degrees Celsius, as is the case on Venus and Mercury. Europlanet, a European platform for planetary research, is now providing 10 million euro for the ‘Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure’ project, which will provide open access to facilities for planetary simulation and analysis for scientists from Europe, Asia and Africa, including two DLR laboratories. The image shows PSL Manager Jörn Helbert with a sample chamber. (Credit: Europlanet / madebygravity.co)
  • Europlanet 2024 RI will provide open access to the world’s largest group of facilities for planetary simulation and analysis, as well as a global network of small telescopes, data services and support for the scientific community.
  • Since 2005, Europlanet has been providing Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science.
  • DLR participates in the programme with a spectroscopy laboratory and a laboratory for simulating atmospheric conditions on various planetary bodies.

BERLIN (DLR PR) — Solar System exploration benefits primarily from the ability of robotic spacecraft to visit planetary bodies, carrying cameras and experiments. In addition, much research is carried out in laboratories on Earth, and during field studies on volcanoes or in arid and cold polar regions.

The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin has two laboratories for planetary research with globally unique capabilities. These are a spectroscopy laboratory for emissivity measurements of planetary simulants under extremely high temperatures, and a laboratory for simulating atmospheric conditions on a wide range of planetary bodies. Now, Europlanet, a European platform for planetary science, has launched ‘Europlanet 2024 RI‘, a 10 million euro project.

(more…)

Asteroid Ryugu Likely Link in Planetary Formation

Formation scenario for Ryugu. More than one year ago, the Japanese Hayabusa2 orbiter deployed the German lander, MASCOT, which investigated the approximately one-kilometre-diameter asteroid Ryugu. Scientists are now imagining the history of its formation 4.5 billion years ago. First, flakes and grains of dust formed in the disc of dust and gas rotating around the Sun (1), before porous planetesimals agglomerated due to the accretion of these loose flakes (2). Recent investigations suggest that Ryugu’s parent body hardly condensed and was also highly porous. This may have resulted in the formation of a firmer core, but scientists also believe that a gradual increase in density towards the centre of the parent body is conceivable (3). Impacts and collisions with other asteroids (4) led to a fragmentation of the parent body; the large boulders on Ryugu probably originated here. Part of the debris was then the source material for the accretion of Ryugu (5), with porous blocks and loose material, and also some more compact blocks of higher density from the original core, some of which remain on the surface. Ryugu‘s present diamondlike shape (6) occurred over time due to its rotation. (Credit: Okada et al. Nature 2020)
  • Infrared images show that Ryugu is almost entirely made up.
  • The asteroid was formed largely from fragments of a parent body that was shattered by impacts of highly porous material.
  • DLR scientists participate in the publication in the scientific journal Nature.

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The Solar System formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago. Numerous fragments that bear witness to this early era orbit the Sun as asteroids. Around three-quarters of these are carbon-rich C-type asteroids, such as 162173 Ryugu, which was the target of the Japanese Hayabusa2 mission in 2018 and 2019. The spacecraft is currently on its return flight to Earth.

Numerous scientists, including planetary researchers from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), intensively studied this cosmic ‘rubble pile’, which is almost one kilometre in diameter and can come close to Earth. Infrared images acquired by Hayabusa2 have now been published in the scientific journal Nature. They show that the asteroid consists almost entirely of highly porous material.

(more…)

GRACE, GRACE-FO Satellite Data Track Ice Loss at the Poles

Greenland’s Steenstrup Glacier, with the mid-morning sun glinting off the Denmark Strait in the background. The image was taken during a NASA IceBridge airborne survey of the region in 2016. (Credit: NASA/Operation IceBridge)

Greenland and Antarctica are melting – but how quickly and which areas are most affected? Nearly 20 years of satellite data provide key insights into these questions.


PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — During the exceptionally warm Arctic summer of 2019, Greenland lost 600 billion tons of ice – enough to raise global sea levels by nearly a tenth of an inch (2.2 millimeters) in just two months, a new study shows.

(more…)

Cleared for Commercialization – Bartolomeo External Platform to Expand ISS Usage

Bartolomeo with laser (Credit: Airbus)
  • Europe’s first commercial external platform on the International Space Station (ISS) is scheduled for launch on 6 March 2020.
  • Built and tested in Germany, the Bartolomeo platform is a major step towards commercial ISS use in Europe.
  • Bartolomeo offers companies and research institutions ideal conditions for exposing their experiments and technological developments to the conditions of space simply and directly.

Its days on Earth are numbered – the external platform Bartolomeo is currently waiting for its launch to the International Space Station (ISS) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida inside a SpaceX Dragon capsule.

(more…)

Japan’s Martian Moons Mission Gets Go Ahead

Artist impression of the MMX spacecraft. (Credit: JAXA)

Martian Moons EXploration (MMX) mission to explore moons, return soil sample from Phobos.

TOKYO (JAXA Program Update) — This week (19 February 2020), the MMX mission transitioned to become a JAXA Project: an official step in mission development authorised by the Japanese government. The mission was previously in the Pre-Project phase, where the focus was on research and analysis, such as simulating landings to improve spacecraft design. The focus will now move onto the development of mission hardware and software.

(more…)

New Adventures in Beds and Baths for Spaceflight

The masks are part of a system to estimate energy requirements. They measures how much oxygen is consumed and how much carbon dioxide is exhaled by the volunteers. These measurements allow scientists to get an idea of the relationship between food, the lungs and the energy consumption when at rest. (Credit: CNES-E. Grimault, 2013)

TOULOUSE, France (ESA PR) — ESA is expanding its bedrest programme that allows researchers to study how human bodies react to living in space – without leaving their bed.

In weightlessness, astronauts’ bodies lose muscle and bone density, eyes change, fluids shift to the brain and more – our bodies adapted to life on Earth and are not designed for spaceflight.

(more…)

DLR Göttingen Tests Bartolomeo Commercial Payload Platform for Space Station

Bartolomeo platform undergoing testing. (Credit: DLR)
  • DLR Göttingen has tested a payload platform for the International Space Station
  • The Bartolomeo platform was developed by Airbus
  • Commercial users will be able to conduct experiments in space more quickly and with increased cost effectiveness

Göttingen, Germany (DLR ) — The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has tested a new type of payload platform created by Airbus for the International Space Station (ISS). Researchers at DLR in Göttingen investigated the vibration behaviour of the component in order to rule out any potentially dangerous vibrations during launch or while in service.

(more…)

Farewell to the Eu:CROPIS mission

Euglena and Combined Regenerative Organic-Food Production in Space (Eu:CROPIS) satellite. (Credit: DLR)
  • The Eu:CROPIS mission ended on 31 December 2019
  • Three of the four on-board experiments yielded extensive datasets
  • The first on-board computer developed by DLR functioned reliably in space
  • Compact satellite design demonstrated innovative lightweight construction technologies in space
  • Focus: Space, exploration, research under space conditions, technology for space systems

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The experimentation phase on board the Euglena and Combined Regenerative Organic-Food Production in Space (Eu:CROPIS) satellite developed by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) came to an end on 31 December 2019. The compact satellite has been in an orbit around Earth that passes over the north and south poles for over one year.

(more…)

DLR Phantoms Undergo Fit Check in NASA’s Orion Spacecraft

Orion capsule for Artemis I mission. (Credit: NASA)
  • MARE is an experiment to measure radiation exposure on the female body during NASA’s Artemis I mission.
  • The phantoms Helga and Zohar are DLR measurement bodies and will be flying to the Moon and back on the first, uncrewed flight of the Orion spacecraft.
  • They will acquire gender-specific measurement data on space radiation beyond the orbit of the ISS for the first time.
  • They are also testing the effectiveness of a newly developed radiation protection vest (AstroRad).
  • Focus: Space, human spaceflight, aerospace medicine, radiation biology

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The intensity of space radiation is much greater outside Earth’s protective magnetic field. This causes problems for the human body and represents a challenge for future crewed space missions to the Moon and Mars.

The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is conducting research to determine the radiation risk for crewed spaceflight. One of the projects that the researchers are carrying out together with NASA, the Israeli Space Agency ISA and the companies Lockheed Martin and StemRad is the Matroshka AstroRad Radiation Experiment (MARE).

(more…)

CIMON-2 on Way to ISS

Cimon 2 during tests. (Credit: DLR)
  • Like its predecessor, the technology experiment, developed and built in Germany, is designed to interact with astronauts in the Columbus laboratory.
  • CIMON-2 has a better ‘sense of orientation’ and is more ’empathic’.
  • DLR, Airbus and IBM continue their partnership.

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — A new Crew Interactive MObile companioN (CIMON) is on its way the International Space Station (ISS). On 5 December 2019 at 18:29 CET (12:29 local time) the US SpaceX CRS-19 mission lifted off from the spaceport at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

(more…)

Germany Invests 3.3 Billion Euros in European Space Exploration, Becomes ESA’s Largest Contributor

  • Three years after the last ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level, held in Lucerne, Switzerland, government representatives from the 22 Member States met in Seville, Spain, on 27 and 28 November 2019 and committed a total of almost 14.4 billion euro [$15.87 billion] for space programmes over the next few years.
  • Germany is contributing 3.3 billion euro [$3.6 billion] to ESA programmes focusing on Earth observation, telecommunications, technological advancement and commercialisation / NewSpace.
  • At 22.9 percent, Germany is now ESA’s largest contributor, followed by France (18.5 percent, 2.66 billion euro), Italy (15.9 percent, 2.28 billion euro) and the United Kingdom (11.5 percent, 1.65 billion euro).
  • The ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level is the highest political decision-making body, and it defines the content and financial framework for ESA’s space programmes every two to three years.
(more…)

Plasma Crystal Research Conducted on the ISS

ISS and the Columbus module. (Credit: ESA/NASA)
  • Plasma research on the ISS – Cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov will be carrying out a new series of experiments from 10 to 16 November 2019
  • Important knowledge for tomorrow – the plasma crystal laboratory PK-4 provides insights into fundamental physical processes
  • Plasma is ionised gas and is considered to be the fourth state of matter in addition to solids, liquids and gases. Complex plasmas are formed when dust particles are present in the neutral gas

TOULOUSE, France (DLR PR) — More plasma research is being conducted on the International Space Station (ISS). From 10 to 16 November 2019, the Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov will be carrying out a new series of experiments with the PK-4 plasma crystal laboratory. Under the direction of scientists from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), Skvortsov will record how microparticles move through a neon plasma in microgravity, forming structures and thus providing insights into basic physical processes.

(more…)