Helmholtz Association

Research Field Aeronautics, Space and Transport

Mobility, information, communication, managing the resources as well as environment and security are decisive factors for the economic, ecological and social development of modern national economics.

Goals

The scientists involved in aeronautics, space and transport research address the major challenges of society in the fields of mobility, information systems, communication, resource management, the environment and safety.

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Der Niedergeschwindigkeits-Windkanal in Braunschweig. Bild: DLR

The scientists involved in aeronautics, space and transport research address the major challenges facing our society in the fields of mobility, information systems, communication, resource management, the environment and safety. They develop concepts and solutions and provide advice for policymakers. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is Germany’s national centre for aeronautics and aerospace research. On behalf of the German government and in its capacity as the German space agency, the DLR is responsible for research within the framework of the national aerospace programme and for Germany’s contribution to the European Space Agency (ESA).


The Helmholtz DLR@UNI Alliance provides a framework for content-based partnerships between universities and selected DLR facilities throughout Germany. At the same time, the DLR works closely with other Helmholtz research centres, particularly in the two areas of energy research and Earth and environmental research.


Furthermore, it collaborates with the private sector, one example being the TAMS project, funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. Together with Siemens and the various medium-sized companies involved in this project, the DLR has demonstrated how costs, emissions, noise and flight delays can be reduced by integrating ground and air-based systems at airports. Close cooperation with industry was also a cornerstone of the E-City Logistics project in the “model regions” of Berlin and Brandenburg. Supported by DHL and the Meyer & Meyer logistics company, this project focused on the pilot use of electric vehicles for urban delivery services.

Outlook

In addition to the ever-evolving implementation of the previous research topics, the scientists in this research field will collaborate with industry on research projects devoted to aircraft simulation, next-generation rail-based vehicles and the development of robots. In mid-2011, the DLR established an internal maritime safety research group in order to pool and expand research at the various DLR institutes. The activities in this area are supported by a positively evaluated portfolio proposal “R&D and Real-Time Services for Maritime Safety” and are coordinated with the Forschungszentrum Jülich and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

Research Programmes


Aeronautics

Goals of the programme are an increased capacity of the air transport system, greater cost-effectiveness, the reduction of aircraft noise and harmful emissions, the enhanced attractiveness for passengers and higher safety standards.

More details about Research Programme Aeronautics


Space

The programme’s research topics include Earth observation, communications and navigation, space exploration, research under space conditions, space transport, space systems technology and robotics.

More details about Research Programme Space


Transport

The scientists in the transport programme aim to develop a modern transport system for people and goods that is sustainable over the long term from an economic, ecological and social perspective.

More details about Research Programme Transport

The Programmes in the Funding Period 2013-2018

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is the only Helmholtz centre in the field of aeronautics, space and transport research.

Scientists conduct research and collaborate in the following three programmes:

Research Programmes


Aeronautics

Scientists in DLR aeronautics research work on increasing the performance capability and economy of the air transport system, on reducing flight noise and harmful emissions and on guaranteeing safety. These goals are also targeted within the scope of European collaboration.

More details about Reserach Programme Aeronautics


Space

Space research in Germany means R&D to provide direct benefits to the public and, simultaneously, inspiration for the future. In the Helmholtz programme Space, scientists observe the system earth, its processes and changes, they explore the solar system...

More details about Research Programme Space


Transport

The currently existing traffic system is largely overloaded and faces increasing difficulties absorbing the rising amount of traffic. This chronic overload increasingly jeopardises the competitiveness of the German and European economy...

More details about Research Programme Transport

Involved Helmholtz Centre

German Aerospace Centre

Insights into Research Field Aeronautics, Space and Transport

Here, we present projects currently being carried out by scientists at the Helmholtz Centres.

Measurement flights for climate research

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Atmospheric researchers based in Kiruna in nor th Sweden conducted coordinated measurement flights using the HALO and Falcon research aircraft. Image: DLR/Andreas Minikin (CC-BY 3.0)

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Between December 2015 and March 2016, researchers from DLR and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), along with other national and international partners, conducted a series of measurements above the Arctic Circle in order to investigate climate change and its effects on the polar atmosphere. The measurements were carried out using one of the world’s best-equipped research aircraft: the Gulfstream G550 HALO (High Altitude Long Range Research Aircraft). From their base at Kiruna in north Sweden, the climate researchers flew measurement flights with HALO throughout the Arctic winter in order to study “hitherto” insufficiently understood aspects of cloud physics in polar regions and trace gas transport.

Ozone has a particularly powerful effect on the climate in the tropopause region, the transitional layer between the troposphere and the stratosphere, which is located at an altitude from 8 to 16 kilometres. Due to the increase in carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, temperatures on the ground and in the troposphere are rising, whereas in the stratosphere they are decreasing.

Particularly in the Arctic this can lead to the increased formation of polar stratospheric clouds, which contribute to the depletion of the protective ozone layer. While a large ozone hole regularly forms above the Antarctic during spring in the southern hemisphere, ozone depletion in northern polar region usually is less severe. However, this was not the case in the winter of 2015/16, when an increased formation of stratospheric clouds contributed to a significant depletion of the ozone layer already evident at the beginning of March.

The HALO research aircraft is based on a joint initiative of German environmental and climate research institutions. HALO is funded by contributions from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the German Research Foundation (DFG), the Helmholtz Association, the Max Planck Society, the Leibniz Association, the Free State of Bavaria, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Forschungszentrum Jülich and the German Aerospace Center.


Autonomous landing at full speed

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When landing autonomously, the aircraft’s flight control system need to compensate for the accelerated flow of air above the ground vehicle. Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

An unmanned, electric, autonomous aircraft travelling at 75 kilometres per hour lands gently on the roof of a moving car. For the first time, researchers at the DLR have successfully demonstrated technology developed for this purpose. The system is designed for civil applications in the fi elds of remote sensing and communication and could be applied to ultra-light solar-powered aircraft to supplement Earth observation efforts using conventional satellite systems. With its landing gear removed, the aircraft has signifi cantly increased payload capacity.


EU:CROPIS – fresh vegetables in space

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As a test for tomato plants: different gravitational conditions are created inside the satellite by varying its rotation. Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Astronauts travelling to the Moon or Mars would certainly welcome the addition of fresh food to their diet. This is why the Eu:CROPIS mission is planning to launch a satellite into space in 2017 that will operate two greenhouses under lunar and Martian gravitational conditions. On board, the C.R.O.P. (combined regenerative organic-food production) filter system developed by the DLR will convert synthetic urine into fertilizer for tomato plants. A second algae-based system will deliver oxygen and remove excess ammonia.


MASCOT – landing on an asteroid

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The MASCOT lander – no bigger than a shoe box – will carry four instruments down to the surface of the Ryugu asteroid. Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout) has been on its way to the asteroid Ryugu (1999 JU3) since 3 December 2014. The lander is scheduled to reach its destination on board the Japanese Hayabusa 2 probe and touch down on the asteroid’s surface in 2018. It is equipped with a total of four measuring instruments: a radiometer, a camera, a spectrometer and a magnetometer. The mission will gather data from several locations on one asteroid for the fi rst time in history. To this end MASCOT will use an internal swing arm to hop from one location to the next.


Structural health monitoring detects damage to aircraft components

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A door surround structure in a fuselage shell with an integrated structural health monitoring network. Image: DLR (CC BY 3.0)

Carbon fibre reinforced polymers (CFRP) are increasingly being used in the construction aircraft to make them lighter, more comfortable and more economical. In order to make these aircraft even safer and facilitate their maintenance, the DLR has built a large aircraft component from CFRP. The fuselage section is equipped with integrated sensors that function like a nervous system, providing information about the extent and location of damage. The advantage offered by this system lies in the fact that defective parts do not have to be removed and extensively examined, which simplifies maintenance and repairs.


Quicker journeys with visual coupling

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Photo of one tr ain passing another at a speed of around 230 kilometres an hour. Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Virtual coupling refers to a method by which trains are connected via wireless communication rather than physical links. This offers the advantage that passengers can reach their destinations in a shorter period of time without having to change trains. In addition, the capacity limits of railway lines can be increased without the need for additional infrastructure. In April 2016 DLR researchers tested such a system using two Frecciarossa high-speed trains provided by the Italian rail company Trenitalia. Over several nights they tested the communication between two trains with directional antennas fitted at the front on the rail link between Naples and Rome.


Rainforest on the radar

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With its rectangular cabin and large floor openings, the twin-engine turboprop Do 228-212 aircraft is par ticularly well suited for the use of the special camera and radar systems. Image: DLR (CC BY 3.0)

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

In February 2016 DLR scientists conducted numerous measurement flights in the central African country of Gabon in order to determine the condition of the rainforest there. In the process they employed advanced radar technology. The data obtained will help researchers to improve climate models and better understand global warming. The study was carried out in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the French, Gabonese and US national aerospace research centres.

Contact

Prof. Dr. Pascale Ehrenfreund

Research field coordinator Aeronautics, Space and Transport

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Postal address:
51170 Köln

Phone: +49 2203 601-4201
Fax: +49 2203 64190
pascale.ehrenfreund (at) dlr.de
www.dlr.de


Olaf Kranz

Research Field Aeronautics, Space and Transport

Helmholtz Association

Phone: +49 30 206329-31
olaf.kranz (at) helmholtz.de


09.12.2016