PIPP OLFAR: Breakthrough technologies for Interferometry in Space (PIPP-OLFAR)

Themes: Distributed autonomous sensing systems

Combine multiple satellites into one single scientific instrument: a radio telescope in space

Interferometry is a key technology in which the Netherlands have a long tradition and a leading role in the world. The Westerbork radio telescope, LOFAR (Low Frequency Array), SKA (Square kilometer Array) and many other Big Science instruments demonstrate that the Netherlands scientific community has an excellent track record in this field. Ground-based observatories will eventually have their counterpart in space, not only to circumvent the disturbances associated with the earth atmosphere, but ultimately to reach high spatial resolution in basically all wavelength domains. The Netherlands are excellently equipped with the capabilities to make significant steps, and to play a distinctive role among the world leading nations in this field. Space based interferometers can also be used for earth observation, e.g. using multiple radar satellites. There is an excellent expertise in building high quality space instruments in the Netherlands and since the launch of Delfi-C3 the Netherlands has become a world player with respect to miniaturized satellites and multi-satellite systems.

It is the purpose of this project to create a network of researchers and industry in which the integration knowledge and skills and mission driven research enable the combination of multiple satellites into one single scientific instrument. It will result in breakthroughs in localization, high-data rate links, distributed computing, satellite cluster control and many more technologies that will enable many different commercial and scientific multi satellite missions. Two scientific missions, the moon orbiting radio telescope OLFAR and the two-element THz interferometer EHI will be used as drivers and precursors for the research.

The effort of CAS and ELCA in this project is in researching the data communication links.

Project data

Researchers: Alle-Jan van der Veen, Chris Verhoeven, Raj Thilak Rajan
Starting date: July 2018
Closing date: December 2022
Funding: 748 kE; related to group 130 kE
Sponsor: NWO - Partnership for Space Inst
Partners: TU Delft (EWI, Aerospace), TU Eindhoven, Radboud University, Univ. Groningen, ASTRON, JIVE, ISIS, TNO, Hyperion, NLR, et al.
Contact: Raj Thilak Rajan

Publication list