The Engineering Group participates in all of SRON's detector-research and instrument-hardware projects. System studies, concept designs, and trade-off studies have been done for a variety of satellite instruments. A recent satellite contribution that was realized at SRON concerns the front-end electronics for the Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI instrument. Presently, the ongoing research for the X-IFU instrument on ESA's Athena satellite requires numerous design studies and extensive support of the detector-development programme. Satellite instrument projects are supported by the Product assurance & auality assurance team of the Engineering group, which includes CADM (Configuration and Data Management).
The Engineering group also participates in instrument development for research from airplanes and scientific balloon flights. We supported for instance the STO2 balloon experiment (for astrophysical research), that circled around the South Pole in 2016, and the SPEX-Airborne instrument (for Earth atmospheric research) on board of NASA's ER-2 research plane that made flights above California in 2016.
The EG invests in future technologies like flight-qualified high-performance mixed-signal ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuits), CubeSat engineering knowledge, and 3D metal printing.
The Engineering group is subdivided in six teams:
- Digital electronics
- Analogue electronics
- Realization Engineering
- Mechanical design and manufacturing
- Product assurance & quality assurance
- Engineering Groningen.
At both locations, Groningen and Utrecht, the Engineering group has state-of-the-art manufacturing, assembly, and integration facilities. The electronic assembly equipment and clean rooms meet the quality-assurance requirements for the production of space electronics. SRON’s facilities include high-density surface-mount technology equipment and high-speed PCB-layout design tools. For mechanical manufacturing and assembly we have cleanroom facilities, optical-alignment tools, high-precision measurement tools, and a well-equipped workshop.