CliSAP successfully finished in 2018. Climate research continues in the Cluster of Excellence "CLICCS".

Astronaut with Doctorate from Universität Hamburg Headed for ISS


On Wednesday, 28 May 2014 at 9:56 pm, ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst will take off from the launch base in Baikonur, Kazakhstan for his six-month mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Succeeding Thomas Reiter and Hans Schlegel, Gerst is only the third German astronaut ever to be admitted to the ISS. The geophysicist and volcanologist became a member of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) astronaut corps in 2009. Prior to that, he completed his doctoral degree at Universität Hamburg.

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst inside the Soyuz TMA-13M, the spacecraft that will carry him, Commander Maxim Suraev and NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman to the ISS.

“I remember we were amid an expedition to the volcano Mount Yasur in the South Pacific, when receiving the message that Alexander had passed the first selection round at the ESA,” reports Prof. Matthias Hort from the University’s Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability. “The number of applicants thus decreased from 8,000 to 2,000; and, of course, we followed the rest of the procedure with heightened excitement.”

Prof. Hort was Gerst‘s doctoral supervisor: “We were interested in the initial seconds of a typical Strombolian eruption. Gerst could prove that it is less the pressure, but rather the enormous volume of the underground gas bubble, which sparks such a short but violent volcanic eruption,” explains the geophysicist. “The pressure is merely four to six bar. That is not much more than inside a well-inflated bicycle tire.”

Live from space at Universität Hamburg

At the end of August, Alexander Gerst will touch base again with the University and his former colleagues via satellite. Under the heading “Climate Research, Geophysics and Human Space Travel” he will talk live about everyday life in weightlessness, his current mission “Blue Dot” as well as the importance of Earth observation from space; in particular, its meaning for modern climate and earth system research. We are pleased to announce that Thomas Reiter, former astronaut and current ESA Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations, will also attend the event.


More information

A German-language live broadcast from the start

Information on Alexander Gerst and his mission

Information on Alexander Gerst

“Blue Dot" blog