RWTH Alumni Get Exciting Insight at the DLR Cologne

22/04/2014
Group photo Copyright: Reena James

"It's a bit tight in here afterall," thought one or two alumni during the visit to the inside of the Columbus space lab - the European Space Agency's life-size training model and located in the European Astronaut Training Center. Many RWTH alumni from the Cologne-Bonn region were able to visit the model during an exciting tour through the German Aerospace Center or DLR in Cologne-Porz.

 

During the tour they received information about the research fields and testing facilities at the DLR's largest location in Germany and insight into current research and development work. This includes research work at the Institute of Aerospace Medicine, which is a collaborative partner in many projects with the Chair of Aviation Medicine at Aachen University Hospital.

Investigations here are primarily conducted on the effects of extreme environmental conditions on humans. How does weightlessness affect astronauts' health, what measures can be developed against known space mission risks such as muscle and bone deterioration, and can research results also be used to solve health problems that occur on Earth?

There was another life-size model available to tour afterwards – the ESA Rosetta spacecraft with the Philae robotic lander. The original spacecraft and lander have been in space for over two years without contact with Earth, investigating the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet. Scientists at the DLR, where the landing control center for this mission is located, just reactivated the Philae lander a few weeks ago in order to prepare the touchdown of the lander on the comet.

Visit to the Astronaut Training Center

Whether architect, electrical engineering, businessman, or doctor – the highlight of the two hour tour for most of the alumni was a visit to to the Astronaut Training Center, where current ESA astronau, Alexander Gerst trains for his upcoming longterm mission at the International Space Station. After a brief introduction using a miniature model fo the ISS the alumni went to the water training pool, in which the astronauts simulate extravehicular activities in zero gravity, directly in the hall with the training models. Here the ESA trains astronauts and ground personnel for the European modules at the ISS, the Columbus Lab, and the ATV space transporter. The group of alumni got a hands-on look at the tight space the astronauts conduct their investigations in the space lab.

The visit and introduction to the DLR Cologne's diverse research topics was an exciting experience for all those who participated. Many thanks to the DLR for the outstanding and informative tour!

Reena James