Earth observation, laser satellite communication and astronomy

Adaptive mirrors for ground based astronomy
Earth observation
Ground based astronomy
Space and scientific instrumentation

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 industry and job opportunities in the Netherlands.

Future prospects

Space plays a crucial role in the daily life of everyone on Earth. Satellites for communication, earth observation and astronomy are an increasingly crucial part of our planet’s infrastructure. In close cooperation with High Tech Industry, TNO Space & Scientific Instrumentation delivers breakthrough technology for space and scientific instruments.

Earth observation

With earth observation satellites, we are monitoring our planet. TNO has a long history of developing instruments that can view our planet's atmosphere, land and water, so that we can reduce the harmful impact of greenhouse gases and air pollution.

Laser satellite communication

There is a growing demand for more data. This includes the advent of self-driving cars, social media with more videos and 'Internet of Things'. Existing connections cannot meet this demand. Laser satellite communication offers a solution.

Ground-based Astronomy

With our technology development for astronomy, we help make scientific breakthroughs possible. These include nanometre-precise carrier structures and actuators, laser guide stars and deformable mirrors.

Equipment and systems for exploring the universe

Exploring and mapping the universe via satellites has kept people busy for decades. We can now see enormously far into space, thanks to complex equipment. Find out what important contributions we make to exploring and mapping the universe.

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Satellite instrument OMI orbits Earth for 100,000th time

4 May 2023

This week, the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) reaches a milestone: 100,000 orbits of Earth. This is extra special because the monitoring instrument was originally designed for a six-year mission after its launch in 2004. OMI has since been monitoring atmospheric emissions and the ozone hole for more than 18 years, which has provided a lot of useful data. This enabled TNO, for instance, to measure the effects of stricter air quality policies in European countries.

Jan Nijenhuis appointed Knight in the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands

26 April 2023

Jan Nijenhuis Knight has been appointed Knight in the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands. This royal appointment is an acknowledgement of his ground-breaking research in the field of opto-mechatronics. Today, Jan received the decorations that go with this award from Marja van Bijsterveldt, mayor of the city of Delft.

TNO extends EUV-partnership with USHIO Inc.

20 January 2023

USHIO Inc.-delegation visits TNO and extends EUV-partnership. Over the last five years USHIO Inc. has been TNO's strategic supplier and partner for the high intensity EUV light source used in our EBL2.

Earth observation: monitoring our planet


TNO has a long legacy in developing instruments that monitor our planet’s atmosphere and allow us to mitigate the impact of greenhouse gases and air pollution.

TNO is awarded conceptual design of the Gemini North Telescope’s Adaptive Optics Bench

20 July 2022

The Gemini North Observatory is one of the largest and most advanced optical and infrared telescopes in the world. It is located on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, one of the world’s premier astronomy locations. The Gemini North telescope has a twin telescope (Gemini South in Chile) leading to the name ’Gemini’ (twins). Both telescopes have of an 8.1-meter primary-mirror. The twin Gemini telescopes provide almost complete coverage of both the northern and southern skies. The telescope saw first light in 1999 and went into science operations in the year 2000.