Instrument development for Earth Observation at SRON

General info

SRON develops space-qualified instrumentation spanning the range from X-ray to far-infrared wavelengths, in close collaboration with its industrial partners. SRON’s key-expertise is enabling technology for space spectrometers. This includes the development of detectors and their read-out chains, and the design of smart optics using lithographic microfabrication techniques. Examples are the immersed gratings for TROPOMI and Sentinel-5, spectrometers for trace-gas detection and SPEXone spectropolarimeters for aerosol detection. SRON has state of the art cleanroom facilities for lithography and integration, and for testing and calibration of space hardware.

Meet our partners


We collaborate with climate researchers and modelers, and together contribute to the development of physical instruments and the promotion of scientific activities outside SRON.

  • projects


    The Dutch Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) is flying onboard the Copernicus Sentinel-5p mission, launched in 2017. Every day it scans the entire globe for e.g. methane and carbon monoxide concentrations at city-scale level.

  • projects

    SPEXone for PACE

    SPEXone is a compact five-angle spectropolarimeter instrument developed as a contributed payload for the NASA Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud and ocean Ecosystem (PACE) observatory. Launch is scheduled for early 2024. SPEXone will enable detailed characterization of aerosols, such as their absorption power, composition, size and height. It uses spectral modulation to provide measurements of radiance and state of polarization in a continuous wavelength spectrum, leading to a high polarimetric accuracy.

  • projects


    SPEXone is a small multi-angle spectropolarimeter for the quantification of atmospheric aerosol. It provides a light-path correction for CO₂ quantification. It is a candidate instrument for the two ESA’s CO2M satellites to be launched in 2026.

  • projects


    The Twin Anthropogenic Greenhouse Gas Observers (TANGO) comprises two cubesats: TANGO-Carbon and TANGO-Nitro. It is a candidate mission of ESA’s SCOUT program to be launched in 2026.

  • projects

    SPEX Airborne

    SPEX airborne is a prototype of SPEXone, a spectropolarimeter that is part of the payload for NASA’s PACE mission and a candidate to be part of ESA’s CO2M mission. SPEX airborne has flown onboard high altitude research aircrafts. In the near future SPEX airborne will be deployed in the validation campaign for PACE.

Our research themes

  • Methane

    • Responsible for ¼ of human-made greenhouse effect

    • About 30 times more powerful than CO₂ (GWP-100)

    • Large emissions from fossil fuel industry, landfills, livestock

  • CO₂

    • Most important human-made greenhouse gas

    • Hard to monitor emissions because of long lifetime

  • Carbon Monoxide

    • Reactions with atmospheric gases contribute to global warming

    • Trace gas to calculate CO₂ emissions from forest fires

    • One of the most important air pollutants
  • Aerosols and Clouds

    • Small particles in the atmosphere

    • Largest unknown factor in climate change

    • Strong impact on air quality

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