Dutch instrument measures aerosols from NASA spy plane

At the start of February the Dutch instrument SPEX-airborne made two test runs with a former NASA spy plane. Soon after that, on 5 February, the first real scientific flight took place, charting small particles in the Earth's atmosphere. By now SPEX-airborne has been in the air for more than five hours.        Read more (in dutch)

"A Second Earth" revealed in NEMO

Wednesday 27 January 2016 the exhibit "A Second Earth" was officially presented in Science Center NEMO. SRON sponsors this exhibit, which is part of the exhibition 'The Search for Life'.        Read more (in dutch)

STO-2 loses race against time at Antarctica

The balloon mission STO-2 has not been launched from the South Pole. The balloon, which is equiped with Dutch detectors, was scheduled this January to make a circular flight over Antarctica and to observe the universe at an altitude of 40 km. But due to bad weather the balloon could not be launched in time to take advantage of the polar anticyclone, which causes air to slowly circulate in a counterclockwise pattern. NASA has now postponed the mission to the next Antarctic summer at the end of 2016/beginning of 2017.         More

LISA Pathfinder en route to gravitational wave demonstration

  ESA's LISA Pathfinder lifted off earlier today on a Vega rocket from Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on its way to demonstrate technology for observing gravitational waves from space. Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of spacetime, predicted a century ago by Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, published on 2 December 1915.         More

In search of the biggest bangs after the Big Bang

On 2 December 2015 the European Space Agency ESA will launch the satellite LISA Pathfinder, an important technology demonstration mission for measuring the gravitational waves in space predicted by Einstein. With gravitational waves scientists expect to be able to make new discoveries about objects such as compact binary stars and merging supermassive black holes, which are responsible for the biggest bangs after the Big Bang. And completely new fundamental physics is also on the horizon.         More


Envisat was an ESA satellite (2002-2012), devoted to environmental studies, notably in the areas of atmospheric chemistry and ocean, ice and landsurface studies. Up to now, it is the largest Earth Observation spacecraft ever built. It carried ten sophisticated optical and radar instruments to provide continuous observation and monitoring of the Earth's land, atmosphere, oceans and ice caps. Envisat data collectively provided a wealth of information on the workings of the Earth system, including insights into factors contributing to climate change.

One of the more than ten instruments onboard was the German-Dutch-Belgian SCIAMACHY instrument which was built to perform measurements of the Earth's atmosphere. Dutch industry and institutes were responsible for the development of the optical unit of SCIAMACHY including the detectors for ultraviolet up to short wave infrared (SWIR) radiation. SRON designed, constructed and tested the detector modules of the SCIAMACHY instrument. Based on the measurements with the SWIR modules SRON also delivered the scientific data products - carbon monoxide (CO), methane (CH4) and heavy water (HDO/H2O).

TROPOMI, SCIAMACHY'S successor, will be launched in 2015. After its launch onboard the ESA satellite Sentinel-5 Precursor TROPOMI will observe the Earth for more than seven years, at an altitude of 800 kilometers. By combining the high spatial resolution and wide coverage of predecessor OMI (still operational) with SCIAMACHY's big spectral range TROPOMI can collect an unprecedented amount of crucial information.