Our work

Small sats

TNO is developing technology for use in small satellites (SmallSats) that can offer tangible solutions to societal problems. Here, we are focusing on small, affordable earth observation instruments that are capable of making independent daily measurements of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions throughout the world. We are also working on technology for radar and satellite communication.

More information about Small Sats?

Please contact Anton Leemhuis.

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New missions and users

TNO has more than 35 years of experience in designing and manufacturing earth observation instruments. Due to the miniaturization of this technology, it is now possible to make satellites and Earth observation instruments smaller and cheaper, and to speed up their production. Lower costs and faster time-to-market have brought the development of satellites within the reach of new players, such as national governments, companies, and non-governmental organizations. This offers them new opportunities and access to unique data. The advent of SmallSats has brought new mission concepts within reach. For instance, SmallSats can be flown in constellations, enabling them to provide better coverage of the Earth’s surface than a single large satellite could. In addition, the pace of innovation can be accelerated by bringing forward technology demonstrations in space, as TNO has shown with the PEASSS satellite.

Earth observation

The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) and Delft University of Technology successfully tested TNO’s Spectrolite instrument during a test flight over Berlin. This involved tasks such as measuring power-plant emission plumes.

TNO is working on the development of several families of Earth observation instruments (<10 kg):

  • Spectrolite: an instrument for measuring air pollution (for example, NO2, SO2) and greenhouse gases (for example, CH4 and CO2), based on technology used in the ground-breaking TROPOMI satellite instrument
  • HIGS: one of the latest generation of instruments, HIGS uses even more compact technology to measure air pollution and greenhouse gases. It is also capable of immediately creating two-dimensional images of this pollution (‘imaging’)
  • HIRIS: an instrument for measuring water pollution with high precision, for scientific and commercial purposes.
The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) and Delft University of Technology successfully tested TNO’s Spectrolite instrument during a test flight over Berlin. This involved tasks such as measuring power-plant emission plumes.

Each of these instrument families is designed to be easily adapted for different applications, such as measuring various types of gases, and with a range of ground resolutions. This avoids the need for relatively expensive, one-off development processes for each individual application. Its expertise in satellite data applications enables TNO to design integrated applications, from information product to physical instrument.

Communication

Satellite communication is one of the largest markets in the aerospace sector. Optical communication is a technology with enormous potential, in terms of making broadband communication available in the future. TNO is one of the leading players in the development of satellite communication systems. We are developing the CubeCat satellite terminal especially for the SmallSat market, in cooperation with Hyperion Technologies.

TNO is also working on the development of radio frequency (RF) communication systems for SmallSats.

Satellite Data Utilization

The use of SmallSats in an Earth observation role offers governments and companies an opportunity to collect new data. We want to reach out to potential partners, to understand their data requirements, and to explore ways of harnessing our expertise and technology to meet these needs. In this context, we can offer an integrated approach to instrument development and data processing.

More information about Small Sats?

Please contact Anton Leemhuis.

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