SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research

Our mission is to bring about breakthroughs in international space research

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SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research

SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research

SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research

Our mission is to bring about breakthroughs in international space research

SEE MORE

SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research

LATEST NEWS

In an attempt to take the scientific output of the molecule hunter HIFI to the limit, the HIFI-team has cured a small frequency range (band 3B). Knowing that there was a possibility of losing this band the team had postponed the attempt until the very end of the operations, due in April 2013. HIFI - onboard ESA's Herschel Space Observatory - has been producing lots of scientific data now for the past three years, after a careful commissioning of the highly complex instrument. With the band 3B observations the team hopes to finalize its survey of molecular complexity in the richest chemical sources in our Milky Way.

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Since its launch in May 2009 HIFI has produced a wealth of scientific data, investigating the physics and chemistry of interstellar clouds of gas and dust. The infrared spectrometer has charted with unprecedented accuracy the amount of carbon and water in these gas clouds, which has shed new light on the birth and early development of stars and planets. There was, however, a small frequency range that could not be optimised, because there was a possibility of losing this one band. In 2010 it was, therefore, decided not to touch this band and to wait until the end of the Herschel operations was near.

Principal Investigator Frank Helmich (SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research) says: "We were not happy to leave it as that, but there were more observations planned, which didn't use the part of the frequencies that LO chain Band 3B handles. These other observations we gave priority. At the end of the operations however we wanted to revisit these frequencies, with the knowledge that virtually all observations at other frequencies in band 3B had been performed, but with the chemical surveys incomplete."

After careful preparations scientists and engineers within the HIFI team attempted the optimisation of band 3B in the first week of February 2013. "Instrument Control Center manager Russell Shipman (SRON) says: " We preferably would have postponed the attempt to an even later date, but we needed the test data almost a month before the renewed science observations in Band 3B could begin."

The tests have now proven to be successful. Frank Helmich says: "We can now squeeze the last bit of science out of this band. With HIFI's band 3B we hope to complete the spectra from the chemically richest sources in the Milky Way. We can also recalibrate all the other complete spectral surveys HIFI has done over its lifetime. In this way we will present future archive users with a complete calibrated data set unrivalled now and for the coming decade."

Herschel will continue observing until its helium runs out between the middle and end of March.

HIFI data are used in many astrophysical papers. Highlights are found at:
/news-mainmenu-588/press-releases-mainmenu-686.html
/hifi/publicaties.html
http://herschel.esac.esa.int/Press_Releases.shtml

RESEARCH

SRON has four programme lines, Astrophysics, ExoplanetsEarth, and Technology, with science groups attached, and two expertise groups, Instrument science and Engineering.

ASTROPHYSICS

The Astrophysics programme at SRON is dedicated to unraveling the history of the universe, from the first stars and black holes to large-scale structure.

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EXOPLANETS

The Exoplanets programme is dedicated to atmospheres of planets beyond our solar system and is an in-between of SRON's Astrophysics and Earth programmes.

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EARTH

The Earth programme is aimed at the climate and air quality of planet Earth, with focus on the global carbon cycle and aerosols.

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ENGINEERING

The Engineering group covers SRON's skills and know-how with regard to product assurance, quality assurance, configuration control, design engineering – electronic & mechanical – and parts procurement. It is an expertise group that provides resources for all SRON instrument projects.

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INSTRUMENT SCIENCE

The Instrument science group covers SRON's skills and know-how with regard to instrument physics, system engineering (up to full-instrument level) and project management. It is an expertise group that provides resources for all SRON instrument projects.

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TECHNOLOGY

The Technology programme is SRON's backbone for the development of enabling technology.

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SRON’s mission is to bring about breakthroughs in international space research 

Therefore the institute develops pioneering technology and advanced space instruments, and uses them to pursue fundamental astrophysical research, Earth science and exoplanetary research. As national expertise institute SRON gives counsel to the Dutch government and coordinates - from a science standpoint - national contributions to international space missions. SRON stimulates the implementation of space science in our society.



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