SRON’s Engineering group

The Engineering Group (EG) designs and realizes unique research instrumentation and space instruments. The engineers work closely together with the SRON instruments scientist and scientists, as well as with partners from knowledge institutes and industry. De EG is headed by ir. Paul Hieltjes and consists of 70 persons, with engineering backgrounds at university and college level. The Engineering Group maintains a wide range of clean-room electronic fabrication facilities as well as a well-equipped mechanical workshop.


The EG participates in all of SRON’s detector-research and instrument-hardware projects. System studies, concept designs, and trade-off studies have been done for a variety of satellite instruments. An important satellite contribution that was realized at SRON concerns the front-end electronics for the Sentinel-5P Precusor / TROPOMI instrument. Presently, the ongoing research for the X-IFU instrument on ESA’s Athena satellite requires numerous design studies and extensive support of the detector-development program. Satellite instrument projects are supported by the Product Assurance & Quality Assurance team of the EG, which includes CADM (Configuration and Data Management).

The EG also participates in instrument development for research from airplanes and scientific balloon flights. We supported for instance the GUSTO balloon experiment (for Astrophysical research), that circled around the South Pole, and the SPEX-Airborne instrument (for Earth atmospheric research) on board of NASA’s ER-2 research plane and at the SCARBO flights in Europe.

The EG invests in future technologies like Innovative glueing technologies, mechanical and electrical modelling, CubeSat engineering knowledge, and 3D printing.

Group structure

The Engineering Group (EG) is subdivided in four teams: 

Close-up of the 40-pixel experiment for the X-IFU instrument being developed for the Athena satellite.
4-8 GHz up/down converter for readout of kinetic inductance detectors (KIDs).
Radiation-tolerant front-end electronics (FEE) for the Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI satellite mission.


At both locations, Groningen and Leiden, the EG has state-of-the-art manufacturing, assembly and integration facilities. The electronic assembly equipment and clean rooms meet the quality-assurance requirements for the production of space electronics. SRON’s facilities include high-density surface-mount technology equipment and high-speed PCB-layout design tools. For mechanical manufacturing and assembly we have cleanroom facilities, optical-alignment tools, high-precision measurement tools, and a well-equipped workshop.