TNO Space

TNO space & scientific instrumentation


The space industry plays a crucial role in the daily life of everyone on Earth. Satellites for communication, navigation and observation – as well as their innovative information systems, terminals and high-tech instruments – are becoming a unique part of our planet’s infrastructure. In competitive industries these scientific and advanced instrumentations for monitoring and data processing are essential.

TNO offers the expertise and facilities to design and develop real-world solutions for industrial and scientific instrumentation needs. We specialize in the development of instrumentation that operates under extreme conditions – for instance at extremely high rates, in extreme environments such as space, or where extreme precision is required.

TNO works directly with equipment manufacturers and industry players in private partnerships or in public/private collaborations. In this way, industry can benefit optimally from the technology position of TNO, allowing translation of proven solutions into new domains, including mass production. Whether the instrumentation is used in product manufacturing, space, the micro-assembly industries or in agriculture, TNO helps create total process control, lower production costs and achieve 100% yields. The same technologies are used to build instruments for scientific use, e.g. in nuclear fusion reactors, space, medical equipment, and particle accelerators.

  • TNO Space Topics Heritage

    Download here the same article in PDF format

  • Download PDF here
  • Space Science Instruments

    TNO delivers breakthrough opto-mechanical technologies that contribute to finding answers to the ESA ‘Cosmic Vision’ questions. These technologies for space missions and ground-based astronomy demand the utmost opto-mechanical precision and stability. TNO’s multi-disciplinary design process means that our instruments can reflect extreme specifications imposed by hostile operating environments and ultra-high accuracy and stability. We produce quality optics with low wave-front error from a variety of materials including aluminium, fused silica and silicon carbide. TNO’s ability to polish and shape silicon carbide (SiC) made ESA’s GAIA mission possible by meeting requirements to a standard unmatched by any other company in Europe.

    TNO’s experience in cryogenics is applied in HIFI for Herschel and the optical delay lines for Darwin. We are also making important contributions to future programs such as Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) Pathfinder as well as ground-based telescopes such as the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) and the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). The validated performance (by Albert Einstein Institute, Hannover) TNO opto-mechanical systems have achieved is an optical stability of ~1.4 picometer/sqrt(Hz.).

    Space Data utilization

    Global coverage and a high level of repeatability give space data unique possibilities for monitoring. TNO develops applications for e.g. air-quality monitoring and has extensive experience in the processing and analysis of satellite remote sensing data for emergency and disaster monitoring, peacekeeping, border control and maritime surveillance. We have also has a strong portfolio in cutting-edge integration of terrestrial and satellite networks and services. Our approach focuses on using open-standard technology to maximize utilization and allow for smooth adoption by industry worldwide.

    Our claim is to utilize today’s satellite capabilities to the full and integrate them in end-user applications. In domains such as GMES, GNSS, SatCom we have a broad and innovative portfolio covering application areas with which we support the realization of services and applications:

    • Environmental modeling
    • Water and soil
    • Safety and security
    • Oil and gas exploration and production
    • CO2 storage
    • Incident monitoring
    • Mobility

    Navigation and Earth Observation satellite based capabilities provide excellent opportunities for developing new services and improve existing ones in almost every application domain. However, appropriate commercial interfaces still need to be developed.

  • Mission-critical components

    More than 35 years of flight heritage with 100% reliability puts TNO among the world leaders in sun sensors, opto-mechatronics and propulsion technologies. Ongoing innovation meets the current and future needs of the space community.

    SUN SENSORS
    Since 1975 our sun sensors have successfully guided telecom, Earth observation and science satellites in LEO, MEO, GEO, at Lagrange points, and on their way to Mars, Venus and comets. TNO’s legacy continues to concentrate on miniaturization and the development of special sun sensors and formation flying sensors for missions with stringent specifications. Appointed SMEs provide industry with TNO designed standard sensors for less specialized projects.

    FRONT-END ELECTRONICS
    TNO creates advanced electronics and antennas to support the miniaturization of Transmit/Receive modules for satellites. We target niche markets, be it very high frequency, extreme broadband or selective antennas and miniaturized systems.

    PROPULSION
    TNO has vast experience in rocket propulsion and is at the forefront of new and advanced igniter technology for rocketengines. Partnering with Dutch SME Aerospace Propulsion Products, TNO is a proven supplier of cheaper, lighter andre-startable European rocket engine igniter technology. Our space-qualified and proven (PROBA -2) cool gas generators produce pure gas by decomposing a solid propellant in order to generate gas, for example for hydrogen peroxide thrusters for small spacecraft propulsion.

    OPTICAL COMPONENTS
    The design and development of optical components is at the core at the business and experience in space. In the field of optical component engineering, manufacturing and testing we have developed, for example, ultralow straylight, high efficiency gratings, free form optics, fiber bragg gratings, quasi volume diffusers(QVD)

    Earth Observation Instruments

    TNO spectrometers provide unique and world-class solutions in Earth observation: GOME, SCIAMACHY and OMI are currently flying in ESA and NASA climate and air quality missions. TROPOMI (Tropospheric Ozone-Monitoring Instrument) is the key to future climate research. This unique instrument is a five channel UV/VIS/NIR/SWIR non-scanning nadir viewing imaging spectrometer that combines a wide swath (108 degrees) with high spatial resolution (7 x 7 km2). The instrument opto-mechanical heritage is from GOME, SCIAMACHY and OMI.

    UNIQUE HISTORY IN RADAR SYSTEMS AND RADAR TECHNOLOGY
    TNO has designed, developed and tested a variety of Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits (MMICs) for ESA and leading European space primes. Our long history in R&D for radar systems for naval defence purposes gives us a unique perspective in bringing radar systems and radar technologies to the space market. Our unique specialized knowledge of the design, development and use of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) has been used in the definition of new MMICs for future satellites.

    For more information, please visit TNO space & scientific instrumentation.