Space & Scientific Instrumentation: optical instruments for space and science

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, including their use in space technology. The Netherlands has a strong international position in the development and implementation of innovative and optical instruments for use in space and science.

Ever since its foundation, TNO has been active in the field of advanced optical instruments, and for over 50 years has been developing instruments for use in space, astronomy, scientific research and manufacturing industry. Examples of this work include the development of instruments for measuring the ozone layer (GOME and TROPOMI) and a space telescope (GAIA). The measuring instruments contribute to dealing with important social issues, spur on science and form the basis for hi-tech industry and job opportunities in the Netherlands.

Future prospects

‘TNO has the ambition to work with industry, users and other knowledge institutions to develop optical instruments and the related operating and information systems’, says programme director Henri Werij. We have unique expertise in optics, optomechanics, optomechatronics and radar technology which enables us to develop extremely complicated, accurate and stable instruments for use in extreme conditions. We also model, validate and integrate the data which are generated as a result.


The information provided by these instruments helps governments to tackle issues related to climate, energy, mobility, peace and security more effectively. The information allows the business world to develop new services and produce instruments (and the satellites to go with them), thereby providing high-quality jobs in the Netherlands. ‘This is our ambition, and we will be working hard to realise it in the years to come’, says Werij with enthusiasm.


If you would like to know more about our Space & Scientific Instrumentation activities, please take a look at more examples of our work, or get in touch with us.


TNO strengthens cooperation on space technology for earth observation and climate research

22 December 2016
TNO signed a contract with Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands B.V. to support the realisation of components for the ESA earth observation mission Sentinel-5. Airbus Defence and Space is the prime contractor... Read more

Industry and knowledge institutions join forces in Dutch Optics Centre

19 October 2016
Dutch companies in the optical manufacturing industry can strengthen their position in the global market by joining forces in a consortium with research institutes and the government. Therefore TU Delft... Read more

Metrology developed by TNO crucial in 1st data release of Gaia satellite

14 September 2016
On September 14th, ESA will release data that has been obtained during two years of the Gaia-mission. The goal of this mission is to compose a three dimensional map of our Galaxy containing information... Read more
24 - 28April

Visit TNO at the Hannover Messe 2017

Hannover | Hannover Exhibition Grounds
The previous edition of the Hannover Messe revealed that Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet are no longer just a future projection. Hundreds of ready-to-run solutions were presented. In 2017 thousands... Read more
16 - 18October

4th International Symposium of Space Optical Instrument and Application

Delft, the Netherlands | TU Delft Science Center
The goal of the symposium is to encourage international communication and cooperation in space optics, and promote the innovation, research and engineering development. The symposium will focus on key... Read more

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