‘You can stay involved from start to launch’

“The reason I came to work at SRON is that I was looking for a job in which I can remain involved in what I design from start to finish. I used to be in chip manufacturing and my work involved only a small part, just a smaller phase in making something bigger.

When I work on an instrument at SRON, my work doesn’t disappear through a hatch to the next and out of my sight. Within the team it moves on to the next area of expertise, but it stays indoors from the drawing board to the launch. After the launch, colleagues from the scientific programmes do the interpretation of the data, so you also see what scientists do with the instrument.

Space missions with Henk’s work

In our profession, the road from the drawing board to a launch is a long one. The X-IFU instrument, which we are designing with partners for ESA’s X-ray telescope Athena, will be launched around 2031. But the first plans date back to 1996 and I was already working on test rigs in 2000.

In 2006, I also worked on the calibration of diplexers for SRON’s far-infrared molecule meter HIFI, which has been measuring far-infrared light from the Herschel telescope since 2009. To have witnessed the launch and now be able to see what our work has yielded is simply unique”.

Henk van Weers is Mechanical Design Engineer
Photos and video: Karlijn Meinders (BNR), X-IFU consortium, ESA, SRON

Interview with Henk about the X-IFU instrument for the ATHENA observatry

Videos of some of the projects Henk and has been working on:

About the X-IFU, for X-ray observatory ATHENA

How Herschel unlocked the secrets of star formation (ESA arrticle and video)

The cosmic water trail uncovered by Herschel (ESA article and video)

Herschel’s chronicles of galaxy evolution (ESA article and video)