30 January 2015

Deep-Sea Mining: What are the risks?

GEOMAR coordinates European joint project on impact assessment 

29 January 2015/Kiel. 50 specialists in deep-sea ecology, marine mining and deep-sea observation from 25 European research institutions met this week at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel to start the three-year research project "JPI Oceans Ecological aspects of deep-sea mining". It aims at investigating the impact of potential ore mining on the deep-sea environment. The project is coordinated by GEOMAR. 
In some regions of the oceans manganese nodules
occur in vast amounts on the seafloor. Photo: Nils Brenke, CeNak

The world’s population is growing. This also means that more and more people need a home, want to work with computers and consume energy. For the construction of houses, for the production of electronic goods, but also for the installation of wind turbines significant amounts of various metals are needed. Currently, all metal ores are mined on less than a third of earth's surface – on the continents. However, in recent decades governments and exploration companies directed their focus towards the other two thirds, the oceans. "Many questions about potential ore mining in the deep sea, however, are still unanswered," says Dr. Matthias Haeckel from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel. He is the scientific coordinator of the project "Ecological aspects of deep-sea mining" which is aimed at investigating the potential environmental impacts in the next three years. A consortium of research ministries in eleven European countries is funding the project as part of the Joint Program Healthy and Productive Seas (JPI Oceans) initiative of the European Union with a total budget of 9.5 million euros. This week, the project started with a kick-off meeting at GEOMAR.

The project is realized by 25 partners from 11 European countries. In the coming three years the participating scientists will study the deep-sea ecosystems in two areas hosting vast amounts of polymetallic nodules. Nodules have caught industry's interest because of promising prospects for heavy metals, such as rare earth elements (REE), copper, nickel, and cobalt. They mainly occur in the abyssal plains of the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Ocean. First pilot mining projects were conducted in the 1970s but stopped again soon. 1994, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) was founded to set up internationally binding regulations for the utilization of the seabed beyond national jurisdiction (called 'The Area') within the regularity of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Today the ISA has granted 13 licenses for the exploration of polymetallic nodule fields in the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ) in the north-east Pacific and one license in the Indian Ocean. Several European countries are among the license holders. “But these are no mining licenses, which are anticipated  to follow in the next decade or so,” says Dr. Haeckel.

One of the obligations of the ISA is to ensure effective protection of the marine environment from harmful effects that may arise from commercial deep-sea mining operations. “Such activities will indisputably affect the status of the marine environment by disturbing the seafloor and the overlying oceanic water column”, adds Dr. Haeckel. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to assess how the habitats of benthic and pelagic communities are affected by different mining technologies, what size of seafloor area and ocean water is impacted directly by mining gear and indirectly by the dispersion of created sediment plumes as well as how long it takes for the deep-sea ecosystem to recover, prior to the employment of any mining activities at industrial scale.

From March to April this year, the JPIO project will embark on Germany’s newest research vessel SONNE to visit the German, Belgian, and French license areas and, for the first time, one of the nine protected areas defined in the CCZ by ISA. The primary goals are to assess the ecosystem status prior to any mining activities, to study the long-range connectivity of benthic fauna across the CCZ, and to evaluate if seamounts are suitable refuges and seeds for recolonization for species from mined areas.

From July to October 2015, scientific cruises with RV SONNE are planned to revisit the DISCOL experimental area in the Peru Basin, where a seafloor area was scientifically disturbed by ploughing in 1989. Studying this unique site will allow to assess the long-term impact of mining activities. At the DISCOL site the scale of recovery, the ecosystem status, and the biogeochemical situation after 26 years will be investigated by comparing disturbed plough tracks with adjacent undisturbed areas.
"We should get to know the deep sea better before we start to change it on potentially large scale," says project coordinator Dr. Haeckel.

www.geomar.de GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel

Images are available for download at www.geomar.de/n2261-e

Jan Steffen (GEOMAR, Communication & Media), Tel.: (+49) 0431 600-2811, presse@geomar.de

19 November 2014

Philae on 67P – MUPUS experiment hammers probe into a comet 500 million kilometres from Earth

Probe discovers hard ice and measures temperature of minus 170 degrees Celsius on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
The thermal probe of the MUPUS instrument measures the temperature and, below the comet surface, the thermal conductivity of the ground. Credit: DLR (CC BY-3.0), Cologne

The MUPUS instrument, one of 10 experiments on the Philae lander that touched down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko encountered very hard material with a temperature of about minus 170 degrees Celsius – probably rich in ice. "This is a surprise! We did not expect to find such hard ice below the surface," explained Tilman Spohn from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), the Principal Investigator for MUPUS.
Ice under loose dust layer
During the night of 13 to 14 November 2014, the MUPUS instrument was deployed from the 'balcony' of the lander – that is, from the open instrument bay on the rear wall of Philae – and was hammered about 40 centimetres into the comet's surface. This was unsuccessful, although the hammer power was gradually increased to the highest available level. "Using comparative measurements performed in the laboratory, we estimate that the probe must have likely encountered a layer with the same strength as ice under a 10 to 20 centimetre thick layer of dust," says Spohn. The infrared sensor incorporated into the instrument found that the covering layer of dust exhibited a low thermal inertia. "The team believes that under the very porous dust layer, ice is present." This ice contains dust and might even be quite porous, but, having been thermally sintered over the course of centuries to millions of years, its ingredients have been baked together by repeated temperature changes.
Measurements on approach and after landing
The instrument's infrared sensor, which was developed by the Institute of Planetology at the University of Münster, together with the Space Research Centre in Warsaw and other international partners, is now managed by the DLR Institute of Planetary Research. Data was recorded during the approach and bounces across the comet surface. However, the MUPUS thermal sensors and accelerometers in the anchors could not be used because the anchor harpoons did not fire into the comet surface beneath the lander. "Philae was not anchored to the surface of the comet and possibly came to rest in a tilted position; one of the three legs of the landing gear was not in contact with the surface. After landing, it was not clear whether the MUPUS experiment would be able to perform as intended."
Philae's ultimate landing site is probably at least one kilometre away from the targeted position – likely in front of a wall composed of ice. The team at the DLR Lander Control Center (LCC) was, however, able to operate all 10 instruments on board the lander and obtain data. "We are very happy that many measurements were possible and are currently in the process of analysing the data," says Spohn. "MUPUS could be used again, if we can collect sufficient energy to charge the lander's battery. Then we can examine the layer on which the probe is situated, and observe how the comet develops as it moves closer to the Sun."
The mission
Rosetta is an ESA mission with contributions from its member states and NASA. Rosetta's Philae lander is funded by a consortium led by DLR, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung; MPS), the French Space Agency (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales; CNES) and the Italian Space Agency (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana; ASI).


Manuela Braun German Aerospace Center (DLR) Corporate CommunicationsEditor, Human Space Flight, Space Science, Engineering Tel.: +49 2203 601-3882 Fax: +49 2203 601-3249 mailto:Manuela.Braun@dlr.de

Prof.Dr. Tilman Spohn German Aerospace Center (DLR) DLR Institute of Planetary Research Tel.: +49 30 67055-300 Fax: +49 30 67055-303 mailto:Tilman.Spohn@dlr.de

25 March 2014

Norman Borlaug’s Statue Installed Today in US Capitol on 100th anniversary of his birth

The agricultural scientist and hunger fighter is credited with saving more lives than anyone who has ever lived. 
Other global celebrations in Mexico, Washington DC, Iowa.

Every state in the United States is permitted two statues of notable citizens to represent it in the nation’s capitol building; Iowa leaders voted to return another statue and add Borlaug, which will be especially fitting as March 25 is celebrated as National Agriculture Day, and Iowa celebrates its leadership in agriculture and the biosciences.
Borlaug dedicated his life to breeding better varieties of wheat, and worked with farmers, scientists, politicians and others to improve agricultural methods and policies to alleviate hunger and malnutrition worldwide. His achievements earned him recognition as “Father of the Green Revolution” and the distinction of being the only American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal and the National Medal of Science.
“This is a historic event for the State of Iowa and a celebration of our role in feeding the world,” Gov. Branstad said. “Dr. Borlaug is credited with saving an estimated one billion people around the world from hunger and starvation, so it’s fitting that we honor this Cresco, Iowa native and great American hero for his extraordinary agricultural achievements on the 100th anniversary of his birth and National Agriculture Day.”
“The unveiling of Norman E. Borlaug’s statue is a proud moment for our state and all Iowans,” said Iowa Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds. “Visitors to the United States Capitol will now have an opportunity to see his statue and learn more about his remarkable achievements and our state’s leadership in agriculture, biosciences and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.”
“I spent a decade working with Dr. Borlaug and he was the most humble, hard-working and inspiring person I have ever known,” said Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, president of Borlaug’s World Food Prize Foundation and chairman of the Borlaug Statue Committee. “Today’s unveiling not only honors him and our state, but also will be a monument to American agricultural achievement in our nation's capitol that will inspire a new generation to carry on his legacy of agricultural innovation to ensure we have enough nutritious food for all.”
Today’s Statue Dedication Ceremony at 11 a.m. EDT will be webcast live at speaker.gov/live and will include remarks by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), along with remarks by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, members of the Iowa congressional delegation, Gov. Branstad and Quinn, who is also president of Borlaug’s World Food Prize Foundation. Statue artist Benjamin Victor of South Dakota will also be in attendance.

Other events are taking place around the globe to honor Dr. Borlaug, including:
In Mexico, the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative is hosting a technical workshop March 22-25; the Association for Agricultural Research and Experimentation of the State of Sonora will with CIMMYT host a Field Day and Birthday Celebration on March 25; and CIMMYT will host the Borlaug Summit on Wheat for Food Security March 25-28. The World Food Prize will present its Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Medallion to CIMMYT, which was Dr. Borlaug’s research institute in Mexico.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will host a Borlaug Symposium this afternoon focusing on the next generation of agricultural scientists who will lead food production and the fight to end hunger. The symposium will feature several World Food Prize interns and will take place at the USDA Jefferson Auditorium in Washington, D.C. from 2:30 to 5 p.m.

The World Food Prize will host free events all day at its Hall of Laureates in Downtown Des Moines. Watch a webcast of the Statue Unveiling Ceremony, help package meals to feed hungry people, enjoy children's storytimes, tour the building with Iowa artists who have studied and painted Borlaug, explore interactive educational exhibits about Dr. Borlaug, watch a documentary about him, view Howard G. Buffett's international photography exhibit, and see cultural dances at 6 p.m. from the regions of the world in which Dr. Borlaug worked: Mexico, India and Africa. Full schedule will be updated at www.worldfoodprize.org/visit.  
More information about the Iowa Borlaug Statue is available at www.iowaborlaugstatue.org. More information about Dr. Borlaug and The World Food Prize is available at www.worldfoodprize.org/norm

Megan Forgrave, Director of Communications, mforgrave@worldfoodprize.org or 515-229-1705 (mobile)
(Des Moines, Iowa) March 25, 2014 – Dr. Norman E. Borlaug’s statue will be installed today at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on what would have been the great agricultural scientist’s 100th birthday. The leadership of the United States Congress, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Governor Terry E. Branstad of Borlaug’s home state of Iowa, and Amb. Kenneth M. Quinn, who chaired the Borlaug Statue Committee, will be part of the ceremony at 11 a.m. Eastern Time.

24 March 2014

Research funders set out steps to prevent re-identification of anonymised study participants

Media release from Cancer Research UK, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust

A group of medical research funders today set out the steps they will take to reduce the risk of re-identification of anonymised individual research subjects from genomic, epidemiological and social science data in the UK.
Cancer Research UK, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust have issued a joint response to a statement from the Expert Advisory Group on Data Access (EAGDA), a group of experts established by the funders to provide strategic advice on emerging scientific, ethical and legal issues in relation to data access.
The issue of re-identification was highlighted by a study in the journal Science last year, which showed that it was possible to identify participants in the 1000 Genomes Project through a complex technique that involved combining publicly available demographic information with anonymised genomic datasets.
In October 2013, EAGDA noted that “although the data in a genomic dataset may be fully anonymised in the conventional sense, cross-linking with general demographic data that are available from elsewhere makes it technically possible in some circumstances to triangulate the identities of individual research participants. Large datasets, particularly those including extensive genomic information, cannot be completely safe from inferential exploitation, including subject re-identification. Although the likelihood of such re-identification may currently be low for most types of study, it is likely to increase in the future.”
EAGDA has now set out a number of recommendations to reduce the impact of this risk and these have been accepted in full by the four organisations. They include: assessing and regularly reviewing the risk of re-identification; explaining the risk to participants when obtaining consent for studies; controlling access to data that could potentially identify individuals; and including sanctions that are proportionate to the nature of the offence, such as a withdrawal of funding, if researchers deliberately attempt to re-identify individuals from anonymised data.
Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, says: "We accept the recommendations made by EAGDA to manage the potential risks and will set about implementing them into our funding policies and communicating this to the research community. Whilst it is impossible to eliminate entirely the risk of re-identification of individuals, it is possible to minimise this risk with proportionate safeguards. We believe that a deliberate attempt to re-identify individuals should be viewed as malpractice and be met with appropriate sanctions."
Sir John Savill, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council, says: “It’s important that we protect the interests and anonymity of individuals while enabling research that benefits all society. As funders, we are committed to working together to reduce the risk of re-identification in a way that does not block valuable research to advance social and medical science and improve health.”
The four funders have committed to ensuring that both the EAGDA statement and their response are clearly communicated to their funded communities and are incorporated where appropriate into relevant guidance for studies. The principles and sanctions will be incorporated into their respective existing policies on research misconduct.
Clare Ryan
Senior Media Officer
The Wellcome Trust
T: +44 (0)20 7611 7262
Notes for editors
The Expert Advisory Group on Data Access (EAGDA) was established by the Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK, the Economic and Social Research Council, and the Medical Research Council to provide strategic advice on the emerging scientific, legal and ethical issues associated with data access for human genetics research and cohort studies. For further details, seehere.
About the Wellcome Trust
The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust’s breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests. www.wellcome.ac.uk
About the Medical Research Council
The Medical Research Council has been at the forefront of scientific discovery to improve human health. Founded in 1913 to tackle tuberculosis, the MRC now invests taxpayers’ money in some of the best medical research in the world across every area of health. Twenty-nine MRC-funded researchers have won Nobel prizes in a wide range of disciplines, and MRC scientists have been behind such diverse discoveries as vitamins, the structure of DNA and the link between smoking and cancer, as well as achievements such as pioneering the use of randomised controlled trials, the invention of MRI scanning, and the development of a group of antibodies used in the making of some of the most successful drugs ever developed. Today, MRC-funded scientists tackle some of the greatest health problems facing humanity in the 21st century, from the rising tide of chronic diseases associated with ageing to the threats posed by rapidly mutating micro-organisms. www.mrc.ac.uk

11 March 2014

Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting 2014: 600 Young Participants Selected

@ Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Approximately 600 aspiring young researchers representing almost 80 countries will be taking part in the 64th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. The organising council has now announced the results of the multi-stage selection process. For the first time in the history of the meetings the percentage of female participants is higher than the male`s percentage (52 to 48%). The students, doctoral students and post-docs will be meeting with 37 Nobel Laureates from 29 June to 4 July 2014. A select group of excellent young scientists will have the opportunity to present and discuss their research in a master class hosted by a Nobel Laureate. This year the dialogue between
@ Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings
generations and cultures, which has been fostered by the meetings since 1951, is dedicated to medicine.

Starting in September 2013 thousands of scientists under the age of 35 applied to participate in the 2014 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. The majority of them were nominated by the more than 200 academic partner organisations of the meeting organisers after they had conducted an internal evaluation process of all submitted applications. Interested young researchers without access to these “Academic Partners” were able to apply through an open application process. In addition to the scientific achievements, the motivation of the applicants was decisive for a positive evaluation. Julie Bonano, a postdoc at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virgina, expresses her excitement of being selected: “I sincerely look forward to the opportunity to meet and network with some of the greatest scientific minds of this generation. My attendance at the Lindau Meeting will hopefully provide me with a new perspective on my research.” 

The selection process was conducted by a scientific panel led by the Lindau Council’s Vice-President Burkhard Fricke, emeritus Professor for Theoretical Physics at the University of Kassel. “The selected young researchers belong to the top of their class”, says Stefan Kaufmann, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the Berlin Charité and director at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology. “This is the next generation of leading researchers, who expect to gain inspiration from their encounters with Nobel Laureates”, adds Klas Kärre, Professor for Molecular Immunology at the Stockholm Karolinska Institutet. Since 2006 Kärre has been a member of the Nobel Committee, which chooses the laureates for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. 

As council members and scientific chairmen of the up-coming meeting, Kaufmann and Kärre are responsible not only for the selection process but also for conceiving the meeting programme. The main focus of the numerous lectures, panel discussions and master classes is on molecular, genetic and cellular mechanisms, as they are among the keys to the prevention and healing of diseases. Some of the Nobel Laureates, such as J. Michael Bishop or Harald zur Hausen will present the latest findings in cancer research. For many years zur Hausen, the 2008 Nobel Laureate in Medicine, was the chairman and member of the scientific board of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, distinguished with the 2008 Nobel Prize as well, will report about the advancements made in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Another important topic, which Elizabeth H. Blackburn (2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine) will address, is the process of ageing at the cellular level and the diseases associated with that. 

Christian Schumacher, Head of Communications 
Email: christian.schumacher@lindau-nobel.org
Phone: + 49 (0) 8382 27731 15 
Fax : + 49 (0) 8382 27731 13 

 Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings 
Alfred-Nobel-Platz 1 
88131 Lindau - Germany 

23 January 2014

A comet landing, a German astronaut and kerosene from sunlight

Knowledge for tomorrow – diverse research for the benefit of society
In May 2014, the DLR Falcon research aircraft will take part in joint flight trials with NASA. It is planned that emissions and changes to condensation trails during the use of alternative fuels will be measured, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0).
Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) are driven by the desire to improve life on Earth. Among other things, they are working on aircraft that one day will produce less noise emissions and run on kerosene from sunlight, while their more efficient turbines emit fewer pollutants. But DLR researchers are not simply concerned with improving airborne mobility, they also have their feet firmly on the ground, helping us reach our destinations in fast and green transportation, for instance in electric vehicles. And talking about transport, in May 2014 astronaut Alexander Gerst, is scheduled to embark on a six-month journey on board the ISS, where he will conduct numerous experiments in various fields, including biology and medicine, to name just two, that will contribute to improving life here on Earth. Alexander Gerst's mission – Blue Dot – expresses this desire. Viewed from far away in space, the Earth resembles an azure, vulnerable speck. The Rosetta spacecraft will send a wealth of new data back to Earth as it chases a comet, venturing deep into space during 2014. The European spacecraft will reach its destination, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, after around 10 years of travel. One of the highlights will be the landing of Philae on November 2014. DLR played a major role in building the craft and operates the lander from its control centre in Cologne.
"What we see, and will continue to see, in DLR projects and missions during 2014 is our willingness to address the most important questions and challenges that our society faces and to continue shaping the future of Germany as a centre for business and science. Our research activities present new, solution-oriented opportunities for humankind and the environment," says Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Chairman of the DLR Executive Board. "DLR's strength lies in our capacity to work on issues both successfully and quickly through interdisciplinary cooperation." Over the last two years, DLR has provided its expertise in aviation research to further research in wind power. For many years now, DLR has concentrated on intense and extremely high-level research into the fundamentals and applications of aviation. Equipped with this experience, DLR scientists are able to apply this to research in wind energy to develop higher performance rotors and rotor blades.
Decisions concerning the Ariane launcher and a manned space transport system to the ISS are on the horizon
A total of 11 instruments on the spacecraft 'Rosetta' and 10 experiments on the lander 'Philae', including several involving DLR, will gather data during the first close encounter with a comet, Credit: ESA.

The upcoming Ministerial Council Meeting of the European Space Agency (ESA) in Luxembourg on 2 December 2014 is an important event for DLR and the German aerospace sector as a whole. In this meeting, the ESA member states will reach a final decision regarding the development of the European launcher Ariane 5 ME, and on the schedule for continuing to shape the Ariane 6 as its successor model. "Commercially speaking, Ariane 5 is the world's most successful launcher," says Wörner. "In the midst of a constantly growing competition in launcher systems, we are called on to preserve and boost Ariane's competitiveness. So we are in favour of developing the Ariane 5ME (Midlife Evolution)." ESA is investing roughly 800 million Euros in this development, with Germany providing around 20 percent. Compared with its predecessor Ariane 5, Ariane 5ME will be able to transport an additional roughly two tons of payload. It has a re-ignitable upper stage and is capable of launch to a variety of orbits. The costs of running the International Space Station ISS and Europe's contribution to the US Space Shuttle successor are additional topics on the agenda for the Ministerial Council Meeting. Within ESA, Germany foots the bill for almost 42 percent of the ISS operational programme (1.7 billion of 4 billion) and 52 percent of the ESA science programme 'European Programme for Life and Physical Sciences' (ELIPS) (149 million of 288 million). "The European service module for the new NASA multi-purpose crew vehicle MPCV, which is based on ATV technologies, means that for the first time, Europe has become an indispensable partner in US exploration projects that reach beyond near-Earth space for the first time. Here, we expect the Ministerial Council Meeting 2014 to provide a final confirmation of the development of the service module," says Wörner.
Discover a selection of DLR research topics scheduled for 2014, from our space, aeronautics, transport, energy and security research areas.
Rosetta – mission to an awakening comet
In 2014, the Philae lander on board the European Rosetta spacecraft will reach comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The goal of this first landing on a comet is to learn more about the formation of the Solar System, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0).

After 10 years in outer space, the arrival of the Rosetta orbiter and its landing craft Philae at their final destination, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, is imminent. The international mission organised by ESA, the European Space Agency, is the first time that a spacecraft will accompany a comet as it awakens on its way to the Sun. And this is not the only premiere; never before has a spacecraft touched down on the surface of a comet to conduct direct, in situ ground measurements and analyses. The camera on board the orbiter and the first images acquired, will enable scientists to make a decision on the landing site in summer 2014. Philae is then scheduled to touch down on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November 2014. An international consortium developed and constructed the refrigerator-sized landing craft under the leadership of DLR, and the DLR control centre in Cologne is responsible for its control and operation. Comets consist of primeval material, barely altered since the Solar System emerged 4.6 billion years ago, and so the mission should provide planetary researchers with valuable information.
Alexander Gerst on the ISS
'Blue Dot – Shaping the Future' – this is the mission motto under which Alexander Gerst (37) is set to be the next German ESA astronaut, taking off for the International Space Station (ISS) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 28 May 2014. The geophysicist is expected back on Earth on 10 November 2014, after 166 days in space. Gerst will have a role to play in roughly 100 experiments on behalf of all partners in ISS. 'European utilisation' has an allocation of up to 160 hours of crew time on board the ISS, during which Gerst will work on roughly 40 ESA experiments, including 25 under the auspices of German project scientists or with German industry participation. The experiments are in the fields of human and material sciences, biology, the physics of fluids and radiation dosimetry, although some are technological demonstrations or used for educational purposes and to promote young scientists. Alexander Gerst will also welcome the final ATV – ATV 5 Georges Lemaître (planned launch: 17 June, docking: 22 June, undocking: 15 December 2014), which, among other things, will transport the experimentation system EML, a DLR-ESA cooperation project, to the ISS. Gerst is charged with installing EML and processing the first samples. ATV-5 has also been chosen to transport the MFX/MagVector experiment, which DLR operates with funding from the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi), to the ISS. Alexander Gerst will also install this equipment and then start and monitor the experiment.
MASCOT – setting off for asteroid 1999 JU 3
The Japanese orbiter Hayabusa 2 will set off on its space mission in December 2014 – taking along the landerMASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout), scheduled to touch down on asteroid 1999 JU 3 where it will deploy its four instruments to conduct measurements at several locations. The lander will 'hop' across the asteroid surface with the help of a flywheel. In this mission, DLR will cooperate with the Japanese space agency JAXA and will therefore strengthen its cooperation with international partners. DLR developed the lander with the French and Japanese space agencies, CNES and JAXA. Among the instruments, DLR has contributed a wide-angle camera and a radiometer. The engineers subjected MASCOT to a gruelling series of tests in preparation for its mission. Among other things, the release mechanism of the landing craft was put through its paces in the zero gravity environment of a drop tower, and its structure was analysed in vibration and thermal tests. Delivery of the lander to the Japanese space agency is scheduled for spring 2014, following completion of the final tests. The DLR Microgravity User Support Center (MUSC) will monitor the landing craft during its mission.
Alternative fuels – NASA and DLR plan joint research flights
Environment friendly and sustainable fuels for aviation; to achieve this goal, DLR researchers at the Institutes of Combustion Technology, Atmospheric Physics and Propulsion Technology are working on synthetic alternatives to the conventional aviation fuel kerosene. Coming together within IFAR, the International Forum of Aviation Research, the US space agency NASA and DLR are planning their first joint research flights to investigate alternative fuels. Setting off from Edwards Air Force Base in California for a two-week flight campaign in May 2014, the scientists intend to test how engines operate with various biofuel compositions. Renewable resources are suitable for the production of alternative fuels and emit lower levels of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Their combustion releases fewer soot particles and less sulphur. The DLR contribution to this German-American project is research aircraft Falcon, designed to measure changes in emissions and contrail properties when using alternative fuels in-flight. NASA is modifying a DC-8 to enable one of the four engines to burn alternative, synthetic fuels during flight tests. The coming years are likely to see additional cooperation with NASA in the field of alternative fuels as part of the new DLR project ECLIF (Emissions and Climate Impact of Alternative Fuels).
DLR establishes technical committee on aircraft noise
As Germany's pre-eminent aviation research facility, DLR focuses intensely on a wide variety of questions relating to aircraft noise, and in this capacity is much in demand among industrial, political and administrative representatives, those affected by noise and environmental associations. Researching aircraft noise is a very interdisciplinary field that requires expertise in a range of subjects such as physics, engineering, medicine, psychology and traffic sciences. DLR is already the guiding light in researching aircraft noise, as it pursues this topic across all relevant disciplines, merging them within a uniform framework. DLR plans to boost its research activities in the field of aircraft noise, to create stronger networks and to tackle questions that remain unanswered. To do this, DLR has now created the Technical Committee for Aircraft Noise. "We are faced with questions that require greater focus and tighter interaction to calculate aircraft noise, the effects of aircraft noise, the sources of aircraft noise, aircraft configurations, and for developing flight procedures to optimise aircraft noise. This is where the committee will contribute to the research programme on aircraft noise," says Ullrich Isermann, Chairman of the Committee. "This is an important step towards treating the problem of aircraft noise efficiently and in a multidisciplinary capacity."
Test facility for next generation turbines
First-rate, high performance test facilities are needed for research and development of innovative engine technology; the aviation industry has an urgent need for suitable facilities. DLR is currently constructing a test facility for the next generation of turbines at its Göttingen site – NG-Turb (Next Generation Turbine). Among other things, scientists will use this globally unique facility to analyse newly developed turbine blades, cooling systems and materials. From engines for small business aircraft to the turbines found on the wide-bodied A380, the test stand will have the capacity to examine aircraft turbines in their original size and under realistic atmospheric conditions and Mach numbers. DLR joined with industry to analyse future focuses of turbine research to ensure that the layout of the facility meets client requirements. The turbine test facility is scheduled to open in spring 2014.
Boosting wind power through improved rotors and rotor blades
Wind energy is increasingly becoming an important mainstay in electricity supply. Tapping into their expertise from the world of aviation, DLR scientists have launched a large number of research projects on the topics of rotors and rotor blades since 2012, and have succeeded in raising project funds, so-called external funding, of over 20 million Euro. One of the projects that DLR will launch in 2014 goes by the name of WindMUSE. It will use computer simulation to look at innovative wind power systems and their behaviour, for instance under a variety of weather conditions. Researchers use this kind of simulation program to calculate the influence of various parameters within the systems and to prevent having to construct elaborate and expensive test facilities, especially in the early stages of development. Furthermore, DLR plans to continue expanding its test infrastructure designed for wind power research. In this field, DLR cooperates with Fraunhofer IWES and ForWind within an association for wind power research.
Kerosene from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide
A research group from DLR, ETH Zürich, Bauhaus Luftfahrt, Shell Global Solutions and the consultancy firm ARTTIC has come together within the project SOLAR-JET to use sunlight, water and carbon dioxide for the production of an aircraft fuel. Unlike fossil fuel-based kerosene, the alternative fuel is manufactured using resources available in almost unlimited quantities and can therefore tip the balance toward future sustainability and the security of supply in air transport. To acquire greater understanding of the complex processes within the solar reactor, researchers at the DLR Institute of Combustion Technology use computers to simulate kerosene production, and in this are able to draw on long-standing experience in the field of developing and analysing alternative fuels for the aviation sector.
Hydrogen from wind and solar energy
On windy days, wind and solar power systems generate more electricity than the grid needs. Power to Gas systems can store the surplus electricity in the form of hydrogen. But wind and solar power facilities of this kind pose new challenges for electrolysis systems; they need to be up and running quickly when the wind picks up and throttled back when the electricity is needed in the grid. In this field, DLR is conducting research on Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) electrolysers that are able to reach full load operation inside of minutes. The PEM systems use same amount of energy to yield roughly 20 percent more hydrogen than current electrolysers. One benefit of this kind of hydrogen production is that it can power fuel cell automobiles and therefore permit carbon-neutral driving. For this purpose, a test stand with a capacity of 50 kilowatts will be built in Stuttgart. Under realistic conditions, the researchers investigate the degradation of the materials and work on a longer shelf life. The researchers accompany these studies by computerised model simulations, which allows them to extrapolate their results for larger systems and a longer operating time. In its research, DLR is also supporting E.ON Hanse with the establishment of a Power to Gas system in Hamburg. The first megawatt PEM system will start operations here at the end of 2014, introducing natural gas into the municipal natural gas system.
Through town, stress-free – driver assistance systems and traffic management
Driver assistance systems can make travelling by car less stressful, more predictable and safer. These systems are taking charge of an increasing number of tasks, providing drivers with important additional information. Traffic in urban areas is particularly complex, and intelligent traffic management can ease the strain on infrastructure in these localities – for instance by communicating with the vehicle at traffic lights – and hence improve traffic flow. DLR traffic researchers are working on designing this kind of cooperative driver assistance systems to enable road users to communicate with each other and the infrastructure and therefore to boost cooperation between all participants. From 2014 on, the large-scale research facility 'Application Platform Intelligent Mobility' (AIM) will provide a real test environment in the city of Braunschweig. Deploying sensor systems for traffic observation, special test routes, simulations and intervention facilities, the platform will enable analysis of the traffic situation in Braunschweig and the testing of new technologies. The associated project UR:BAN also focuses on researching driver assistance and traffic management in urban areas. Thirty-one partners from the automobile and supply industries, electronics, communication and software companies, universities and research institutes will come together at DLR Braunschweig to present the current findings of their research on 14 May 2014.
500 electric vehicles in daily use – DLR analyses user behaviour
DLR is the central research partner within the InitiativE-BB project centred in Berlin-Brandenburg and intended to analyse how 500 publicly subsidised electric vehicles are used. Scientists at the DLR Institute of Traffic Research focus on how the electric vehicles are used, what the drivers experience and which attitudes prevail. Additionally, the researchers continuously log technical parameters in 200 of these vehicles. Among other things, the aim of the project is to enable a prognosis on the future spread of electric vehicles in Germany and, from this, the possible environmental impacts. DLR also uses data acquired from the InitiativE-BW project in Baden-Württemberg to analyse regional differences. Launched in January 2014, the project is set to run for three years. In 'PluG-inn', another project on the topic of electric mobility, DLR traffic researchers are developing a concept for how charging stations for electric vehicles should be deployed regionally in order to meet the user's needs.
DLR analyses mobility behaviour and environmental impact and will present the results
DLR traffic researchers are intent on understanding current and future mobility behaviour, and so they ask how people's behaviour impacts the transport system. What changes do new technologies, trends and political policies bring? They also question the consequences of traffic noise and exhaust gases for human beings and the environment. One of the aspects that DLR researchers analysed in the VEU project (traffic development and the environment) was the noise generated along busy roads, rail tracks and waterways, tracing the repercussions from where the sound emerged to its impact on residents. They analysed in medical studies the extent to which traffic noise leads to sleep disorders and consequences for our health. Topography, wind and weather are important factors in how sound spreads and although they are fundamental and important processes for planning effective noise and environmental protection measures, they have found insufficient consideration in the analysis methods available to date. DLR researchers will present the results of their research project VEU project (traffic development and the environment) at DLR in Cologne on 26 February 2014.
Safe society – preventing crime
Each year in Germany, burglaries and the constant rise in this form of crime cause damage extending to approximately 500 million euros. The police have only limited resources for prevention and investigation. Prompted by an alarming rise in organised criminality involving car theft in the region, the Braunschweig Police Directorate joined with the DLR Institute of Air Transport and Airport Research to cooperate in developing software designed to optimise patrols (TAG – patrol deployment generator). The software permits efficient allocation of patrols to areas under threat, while minimising resource drain. Several police stations in the Braunschweig region plan to start testing this patrol service in the first half of 2014.
Maritime security – monitoring shipping lanes from space
The small research satellite AlSat, developed and built at the Institute of Space Systems in Bremen, is scheduled for launch into space from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in spring 2014. This will make AISat the first international satellite to enable monitoring of global ship movements using the Automatic Identification System (AIS). This is a true premiere, as deployment of a so-called high-gain helix antenna will permit reception of signals from maritime distress beacons (AIS-SART) in addition to Class-A and Class-B signals from commercial and non-commercial ships. One of the purposes behind this research work is to develop the capacity to use satellite-assisted AIS reception even in busy shipping lanes and hence to make an important contribution to ship route optimisation and providing safety along these shipping lanes.
Research centre for satellite-assisted real-time services and new communication and navigation systems in shipping
Hot on the heels of launching research work within the project 'R&D for maritime security and suitable real-time services' in 2012, DLR plans to officially inaugurate the second research centre focusing on this topic in March 2014. Around 15 scientists from the German Remote Sensing Data Center and the DLR Institute of Communications and Navigation are conducting relevant research at the Neustrelitz site. The main focus will lie on improvements in using satellite data to track ships, icebergs and oil slicks on the high seas and in coastal waters and on passing on this information to ships and authorities responsible for safety in shipping lanes. Industry insiders speak of satellite-assisted real-time services, as mere minutes pass between recording, analysis and transmission of the satellite data. The second focus is on developing state-of-the-art and extremely precise, failsafe communication and navigation systems for international shipping.

Andreas Schuetz
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Corporate Communications
Tel.: +49 2203 601-2474
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Dorothee Buerkle
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Tel.: +49 2203 601-3492
Fax: +49 2203 601-3249