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ASTRON is composed of four departments. The institute is managed by our director, supervised by the Foundation Board NWO-I, and advised by our Institute Advisory Board (IAR) and the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC).


ASTRON is composed of four departments. General & scientific director of ASTRON Dr Jessica Dempsey and Institute Manager Drs Elsbeth Jansen form the institute's directorate. Below you find contact details.

Astronomy & Operations (A&O)

Our Astronomy & Operations (A&O) department is engaged in frontline research ranging from the very nearby to the most distant Universe using world-class facilities. They are involved in the definition, development and scientific exploitation of current and new technology and instruments, notably ASTRON’s own facilities of LOFAR and Apertif/WSRT.

Innovation & Systems (I&S)

Moving the frontier in astronomy science requires new powerful telescopes and upgrades of existing telescopes.

Radio Observatory

Our Radio Observatory handles the exploitation of our telescopes, LOFAR (Low Frequency Array) and WSRT (Westerbork Synthese Radio Telescope).

Business Support & Services (BSS)

The mission of Business Support & Services is to provide the best possible support of daily operations. Business Support & Services has several responsibilities. They handle the policy and its implementation.


The NOVA-OIR group is hosted by ASTRON in Dwingeloo and is specialised in the development of infrared opto-mechanical cryogenic systems.

ASTRON was founded in 1950 as the “Stichting Radiostraling van Zon en Melkweg” (Foundation for Radio radiation from the Sun and Milky Way), SRZM, exploring the new window to the universe that opened with the development of radio frequency technology.

Since its earliest days the institute has sustained a world-leading reputation through innovative technological developments and high impact astronomical discoveries. In its recent 2017 Standard Evaluation Protocol (SEP) review, conducted by an international panel of experts, ASTRON received rankings of “1 = world leading” across the board.

ASTRON has its headquarters based in Dwingeloo with telescope facilities at Westerbork, the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT) and the LOw Frequency ARray (LOFAR) telescope. LOFAR consists of a core area near Exloo with a large, expanding network of antenna stations through the Netherlands and European partner countries. Today ASTRON employs about 180 personnel, including scientists, engineers and operations and support staff.

Whilst ASTRON has a centred presence in the northern NL, it operates within a highly international discipline with strong brand identity. ASTRON has provided inspirational leadership through the period to define and design the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Telescope (1996 – 2018).

ASTRON also does business with many commercial partners. We continuously seek to maximise the use of our technologies for society and share our excitement in our discoveries with the public.

Our headquarters at Dwingeloo is a vibrant workplace and hub of expertise. ASTRON hosts the ERIC JIVE (the Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe) and the NOVA Optical/IR group.


ASTRON is part of NWO-I, the Institutes Organisation of NWO, Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. NWO-I is positioned under the Executive Board of NWO.


  • Prof Jessica Dempsey (General and Scientific Director)
  • Elsbeth Jansen-Sijtsma (Institute Manager)

Science Advisory Committe (SAC)

The Science Advisory Committee (SAC) advises the directorate on the long-term strategy and the research programme of ASTRON. The members of the SAC are leading persons from national and international organisations and institutes in the field of radio astronomy and are experts in the research areas in which ASTRON is actively involved.

SAC as of February 2024

  • Prof. dr. Marijke Haverkorn (chair) (Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands)
  • Prof. dr. Tom Heskes (Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands)
  • Prof. dr. Robert Laing (SKA Organisation, Jodrell Bank, United Kingdom)
  • Prof. dr. Marion Matters-Kammerer (Eindhoven University of Technology)
  • Dr. Samaya Nissanke (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands)
  • Prof. dr. Dominik Schwarz (Bielefeld Universität, Germany )


ASTRON has four departments:

  • Astronomy & Operations
  • Strategic Staff
  • Innovation & Systems
  • Business Support & Services


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