Instruments for Ground Based Astronomy

TNO is a world-class leader in ultra-precision opto-mechatronics. We enable cutting edge science with our technology development programs in the area of Astronomy. These include nanometer-precision support structures, actuators, laser launch telescopes and deformable mirrors. When technology must be mature, precise and reliable, our organization has a 100% success rate in space and scientific instrumentation.

TNO has a long history of working in Astronomy and related space and scientific instrumentation. TNO combines four areas of expertise to reach cutting-edge levels of accuracy and control in ultra-precision opto-mechatronics: Optics (optical design and engineering), Mechatronics (mechanical design, mechanisms and controls to full optical systems), Space Systems Engineering (engineering, managing and testing the finest details to ensure performance in the most challenging environments) and Optical Manufacturing (nanometer precision of complex optics, coatings, freeforms and aspheres).

TNO Space and Scientific Instrumentation

With over 50 years of space heritage, we develop one-off and prototype instrumentation for Earth observation, space-borne science missions, terrestrial astronomy and big science solutions, extended with our recent development for high-bandwidth laser satellite communication.

TNO Technologies for Astronomy - enabling a better view of the universe

TNO Technologies for Astronomy

VLTi Laser Launch System: improving telescope vision with artificial guide stars

When technology must be mature, precise and reliable, our organization has a 100% success rate in space and scientific instrumentation. An effective telescope system must have the highest precision components possible. From a system perspective this includes key instruments to maintain, measure and correct the wavefront. Segmented mirrors must be co-phased to sub-lambda scale accuracy. Even before the first deformable mirror, the primary and secondary mirrors must maintain near-perfect surface form to preserve the quality of the incoming light, and maintain the diffraction limit. Beyond excellent component design and production, this includes calibration and actuation to counter natural forces including gravity vector (changing telescope orientation), wind loading, thermal gradients and ground movement. Of course, adaptive optics is more than just deformable mirrors. Other key components, such as wavefront sensors, laser guide stars and optimized real-time control systems are key to quality scientific data from large telescopes.

Decades of Heritage with 100% Reliability

Since 1964 TNO has designed, built and calibrated a growing list of mainly optical instruments and modules. Starting with the very first scientific instrument built for ESA, TNO has a proven track record in space instruments and components spanning half a century. TNO has consistently delivered breakthrough technology and components, ranging from spectrometers for Earth observation and planetary exploration to high-tech, mission-critical space components.
 

ELT M1 Support Structure: 1.4 m mirror controlled to 25 nm surface form accuracy

Astronomy applications currently running include the laser launch telescopes, delay lines and star separators for the VLTi, the world's largest optical interferrometric telescope sytem. Recently, with its partners VDL and NOVA, TNO successfully completed the design for the Primary Mirror (M1) support structure for ESO's Extremely Large Telescope (ELT). The development, from idea to a fully tested system, took place from 2005-2018. The design met the demanding 25-30 nm surface form correction in all gravitational vectors. The 39-meter primary mirror is made of 798 1.4-meter segments, with 133 different mirror shapes, for which the single TNO design can be adjusted to compensate. In collaboration with TNO, VDL was recently awarded the contract to build the full series of M1 support structures.

TNO works in compliance with international quality and confidentiality regulations. TNO helps to improve the quality of life on Earth and stimulates the search for signs of life beyond our planet, with the following technology development areas:

  • Mirror Support Structure Design (EELT-M1, M2/M3)
  • Mirror Support Structure Position Actuators (PACT)
  • Segmented Mirror Cophasing Metrology (OCT)
  • Laser Guide Star Launch Telescopes (VLT, ELT)
  • Deformable Mirrors (ESA, Laser Communications)
  • Opto-Mechatronics (Multidisciplinary Expertise)
  • Optimized Controls and Precision Instruments (Spectrometers, Star Separators)

We look forward to working together with you to build the highest quality scientific instrumentation.

Roadmap

Space & Scientific Instrumentation: earth observation, laser-satellite communication, astronomy

From ground-breaking climate research and satellites for observational systems, to non-invasive medical research and semiconductor production: we have a lot to thank optical scientific instruments for,... Read more
Expertise

Optomechatronics

TNO's Optomechatronics department knows how to design, realize and test mechatronical systems for optical applications requiring extreme stability, highly accurate and fast motion, and / or operation... Read more
Expertise

Optics

Monitoring gas concentrations in the atmosphere, development of the quantum computer, manufacturing of mobile phone chips, non-invasive glucose measurement for diabetics: in all these applications and... Read more
Expertise

Space & Systems Engineering

Aerospace plays a crucial role in the daily lives of everyone on Earth. Communication, navigation and observation satellites as well as their innovative information systems, terminals and high-tech instruments... Read more
Space & Scientific Instrumentation

mr. Matthew Maniscalco MSc, JD, LLM

Contact

mr. Matthew Maniscalco MSc, JD, LLM

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