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ASTRON has turned 75!

75 years ago today, SRZM (Stichting Radiostraling van Zon en Melkweg/Netherlands Foundation for Radio Astronomy) was founded. This organization would later become ASTRON.

Published by the editorial team, 23 April 2024

Looking back

It all started with Henk van de Hulst’s discovery that every single hydrogen atom in our Milky Way can be a tiny radio transmitter. To be able to detect these signals, the Dwingeloo Radio Telescope was built and officially taken in to use in 1956. For a brief time, it was the largest movable radio telescope in the world.

In 1970, we officially took the WSRT (Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope) into use, and in 2010, HM queen Beatrix opened LOFAR, which is currently the largest radio telescope in the world.

The people at ASTRON

However, ASTRON is not just the Dutch institute for radio astronomy; much more so, ASTRON is the people who are working there. The engineers, the astronomers, the software developers, and all other staff members working together to make discoveries in radio astronomy happen. ASTRON aims to create a comfortable and safe working environment for a diverse workforce, successfully working together.

Looking forward

Together, we aim for our holy grail: societally relevant science. To us, that does not only mean doing research that challenges the thinking of fellow scientists about how our Universe works, but also to share that knowledge and inspire children to choose a career in science and technology. To help the communities that have so gracefully welcomed our telescopes in their surroundings by giving back where we can. To work together with (local) industry to enhance their innovative power to solve the challenges of the future.

Currently, the SKAO (Square Kilometre Array Observatory) is being constructed in both South-Africa and Australia. ASTRON is one of the founding members of an international radio telescope spanning multiple continents. SKAO will increase our understanding of the universe.

We are also developing new ways to manage big data; SKAO will produce enormous amounts of data (8 terabits per second on average), which need to be processed, filtered, transported, and stored around the globe.

Driven by the passion to push the boundaries of our knowledge of the Universe, ASTRON continuously pushes the technological boundaries of our telescopes. This innovation in technology benefits the (regional) business community and ultimately society as a whole. We have strived to do this for 75 years and will continue to do so in the future.



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