Insight into the creation of stars, new knowledge about Mars and the Moon, and another German on the ISS: ambitious space projects to be started and carried out in 2021.
By UT Spangenberger, S.W.R.
The white dome is reminiscent of R2-D2 from the “Star Wars” films. And indeed: there is a science fiction atmosphere in the air at the Bundeswehr site on a hill in Coblenz. Under the dome is the new and ultra-modern space radar GESTRA (German Experimental Space Surveillance) hidden.
Gerald Braun from the German Aerospace Center explains in the haze-sliced sky and explains: “This surveillance radar puts a search screen in space, observing objects that are flying and – for an entirely new antenna technology Thanks – can track individual items at the same time. “
There is sufficient surveillance in space: several thousand satellites, spacecraft, but also in space junk orbits between 300 and 3000 kilometers. The goal: to avoid a collision, for example with the International Space Station (ISS).
Next German on ISS
Freed from space mishaps – this is what the first German astronaut is expected to do on the ISS next year: ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer flew 3 in the autumn to fly on SpaceX and then stay in orbit for about six months. work.
This would make Maur the fourth German astronaut on the ISS after Thomas Reiter, Hans Schlegel and Alexander Gerst. He says, “I am really looking forward to building the curiosity and knowledge of those who traveled to the ISS before me, as well as sharing my own experiences as a European ambassador in the classroom.”
James web web telescope
Apart from manned space travel, there are several ambitious science projects on the agenda in which ESA and NASA are working together.
The new James Webb telescope is being launched into space by a European spacecraft in Kauro, French Guiana. The joint project of NASA, ESA and Canadian Space Agency CSA is to be deployed approximately 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. Its scientific work is complex: among other things, it will discover the light of the first stars and galaxies to be generated after the Big Bang.
Was there life on Mars? Researchers hope to get more information about this question. After three Mars missions begin in July – from the USA, China and the United Arab Emirates – they will arrive on Mars in February.
The Americans will use two robots for the first time in the history of space travel. A small 1.8 kg helicopter is about to fly over the surface of the red planet. And the rover “perseverance” (endurance) is believed to examine and collect rocks on Martian soil. These samples are then to be brought back to Earth by ESA in another mission.
NASA Science Director Thomas Zurbuchen speaks in an interview tagesschau.de Of an “unbelievably” complex mission. He explains: “There are three different take-offs from Earth, one from Mars and one between ‘handshakes’, ie handing over material. The ESA is our most important partner. Of all the missions we undertake, this is James. There is one for the web. The biggest and the most important. “The entire Mars mission is scheduled to last at least a decade.
Over the next year, NASA will continue to advance its lunar program and plans to land unmanned test flights with the Orion space capsule into lunar orbit. In early 2024, Americans would like to land on the moon again with the first woman in human history. This is at least what US President Donald Trump had announced. With the moon descending, he could expect his post — a second term for the post.
Future President Joe Biden will also stick to the so-called Artemis program, believes space expert Kai-Uwe Scroll, but not necessarily for the tight schedule: “There are no signs that the Biden administration gateway is running a lunar program at the station is.” The use of lunar orbit and Artemis, the lunar surface, has been canceled. Important partners such as Europe, Japan and Canada are already involved in the contract and are working on their provision. However, one might expect that the time frame would be more realistic and in phases. “