ASTRON is The Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy and is part of Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Its mission is to make discoveries in radio astronomy happen. Its headquarters are in Dwingeloo.
ASTRON collaborates with universities around the world to explore the universe via the development of new and innovative technologies, the operation of world-class radio astronomy facilities, and the pursuit of fundamental astronomical research. Engineers and astronomers at ASTRON have an outstanding international reputation for novel technology development, and fundamental research in galactic and extra-galactic astronomy.
ASTRON's programme has three principal elements:
- The operation of front line observing facilities, including especially the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope and LOFAR,
- The pursuit of fundamental astronomical research using ASTRON facilities, together with a broad range of other telescopes around the world and space-borne instruments.
- A strong technology development programme, encompassing both innovative instrumentation for existing telescopes and the new technologies needed for future facilities ASTRON is one of the leaders in the international SKA project. The Square Kilometre Array will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope with a total collecting area of approximately one square kilometre.
Discovery in astronomy goes hand in hand with innovation in technology. The technology science programme aims both at providing innovative instrumentation for use on current observing facilities, and at laying the groundwork for future generations of telescopes and signal processing instrumentation. The ASTRON facilities allow design, prototyping and qualification of:
- Low noise, ambient and cryogenic radio receiver systems
- Very high speed digital electronics
- Antennas, especially in the array environment
- Advanced instrumentation for use at optical and infrared wavelengths
- Algorithm and software engineering for instrument control and for imaging.