The MAPHEUS research rocket programme of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) conducts materials physics and biological experiments at zero gravity in space. Once a year, the DLR launches a MAPHEUS research rocket that reaches an altitude of up to 260 kilometres and therefore enables approximately six minutes of zero gravity, before returning to the earth’s atmosphere. The annual MAPHEUS flights provide an opportunity to set up various tests on experimentation equipment that is then sent on different missions in order to generate a large volume of scientific results.
This year’s MAPHEUS-12 mission sees adesso acting as an IT partner of the DLR for the first time, and representatives of the company attended the rocket launch today at the ESRANGE Space Center in Sweden. adesso provided the entire software infrastructure for the “Exp.007/Blofeld” experiment, which was successfully completed this morning during the MAPHEUS-12 mission. All the materials physics and biological experiments on board were exposed to around six minutes of zero gravity in space.
The 007/Blofeld experiment concerns chip-secured cryptographic operations that primarily affect the validity of sensor data in space. The protection of sensor data in spacecraft and in “life support systems” (ecosystems) in space is playing an ever greater role in space research. IT security and data encryption – another area in which adesso specialises – is a crucial factor here. In the 007/Blofeld experiment, for example, a method (software module) for the “preservation of evidential value” (data validity) via electronic signature and encryption of scientific sensor data in zero-gravity conditions was tested for the first time with adesso’s support.
Dr Jens Hauslage, a gravitational biologist at the DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine, describes the challenge posed by data security in space: “Secure data connections are vital when it comes to operating life support systems and vehicles in space. Valid measurements are the only way of ensuring the long-term operation of space stations and life support systems and protecting them against being tampered with. Our scientific cooperation with adesso, whose experts have an in-depth knowledge of IT security, enables us to test secure authentication and encrypted communication in space for the first time and to gather experience for future missions.”
The 007/Blofeld test involves a “spy” chip tapping encrypted temperature data with the aim of showing that even intercepted data cannot be used by spies and that the data remains valid for the recipient. Christian Kahlo, a software expert at adesso, played a leading part in developing the software architecture for MAPHEUS-12’s 007/Blofeld experiment. He believes that the company’s first-ever participation in a DLR mission is a solid basis for setting up a dedicated expert unit at adesso: “Our first space project provides us with valuable experience for planning our new ‘adesso Aerospace’ business segment. Going forward, we want to establish ourselves as an IT research partner that facilitates the use of software applications in the aerospace sector.”
The DLR’s MAPHEUS sounding rocket programme is under the overall management of the Institute of DLR-Materials Physics in Space at the German Aerospace Center. The annual flight is prepared and carried out by the Mobile Rocket Base (MORABA) department of DLR's Space Operations and Astronaut Training facility.
For more information on MAPHEUS-12, visit www.dlr.de