BB.20.004 – Interferometry in Space

Route: Building blocks of matter and fundaments of space and time

Cluster question: 132 How can spacecraft and telescopes help us learn more about the universe and explore our own solar system?

Technological advances will always drive the next generation of scientific discovery. In particular, the ability to form images of ever higher angular resolution can open up entirely new physical insights into our universe. The recent image of the black hole in the M87 galaxy is a perfect example of how improvements in the technologies of radio interferometry have allowed scientists for the first time to directly image the physical conditions close to the event horizon. Similarly, looking to the future ambitions of the Voyage 2050 ESA Science Program, it is clear that space-based interferometry will be a central technological theme for a range of proposed new missions. These missions are in addition to the already selected L-class LISA mission, a space-based interferometer to detect gravitational waves. Although still under discussion, mission concepts for space-based interferometers in the X-ray, far-IR, submm, and radio wavelengths have all been proposed.

In this program, key enabling technology will be developed to open this route. We bring interferometry to space-based systems using the opportunities offered by swarms of small satellites. Fundamental bottlenecks to be addressed are in advanced optics, distributed processing, formation flying, inter-satellite and downlink communication technologies, navigation, opto-mechatronics, and novel detector technologies, to name a few. With this initiative, we propose to develop a coordinated technology development program to support NL leadership in future space-based interferometry missions for the coming decades. We also expect developments from this program to directly benefit future ground-based astronomical instruments (e.g., SKA), and Gravitational Wave (GW) facilities.


beamforming, calibration, Distributed space systems, enabling technologies, Gravitational Waves, interferometry, radio astronomy

Other organisations

AcQ Engineering B.V., Airbus Defense and Space Netherlands B.V., ASTRON, ATG Europe B.V., Bright Photonics B.V., Celestia Technologies Group B.V., Chip Integration Technology Center, Cosine Measurement Systems, Hyperion Technologies B.V., Inspiro B.V., ISISPACE - Innovative Solutions in Space B.V., JIVE, JPE, NIKHEF, pinXact B.V., Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen (RU), Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG), Royal Netherlands Aerospace Center, Smart Photonics B.V., SRON, Stellar Space, Tata Consultancy Services, Technische Universiteit Delft (TUD), Technolution B.V., Thales Cryogenics, TNO, University of Amsterdam (UvA)


Organisation Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)
Name Prof. dr. ir. M.J. (Mark) Bentum