December 4, 2019

Dutch-Chinese space explorer now behind the moon

Filed under: Technology by Orangemaster @ 5:21 pm

Last week The Netherlands-China Low Frequency Explorer (NCLE) that was hanging in space for over a year finally had its three antennas unfolded, while it settled in behind the moon. As well, the accompanying satellite, QueQiao, initially planned to be a communications satellite, was turned into a radio observatory.

The NCLE is the first Dutch-Chinese space observatory for radio astronomy. With these shorter antennas, the instrument is sensitive to signals from around 800 million years after the Big Bang. Once unfolded to their full length, they will be able to capture weak radio signals from a period just following the Big Bang, called the Dark Ages.

Marc Klein Wolt, Managing Director of the Radboud Radio Lab and leader of the Dutch team, Albert-Jan Boonstra of Astron as well as Heino Falcke of Radboud University are all thrilled in their own way about being able to perform their observations during the fourteen-day-long night behind the moon. “This is a unique demonstration of technology that paves the way for future radio instruments in space,” Boonstra said.


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June 26, 2019

Dutchmen want to pick up plastic on the Moon

Filed under: Art,Science by Orangemaster @ 8:26 pm

Former bin collector Arnout Schaap and graphic designer Jorick de Quaasteniet want to go into space… to collect plastic. One plastic bag to be exact.

While there are millions of bits of space junk floating around the Earth and damaging satellites, there is also a lot of ordinary stuff like toothbrushes, cameras, Elon Musk’s car, and a whole lot of plastic. Schaap and Quaasteniet have a plan to pick up one of the plastic bags. Yes, just one. It is the cover of a device that astronauts used to measure the distance between the moon and the Earth in 1969 during the Apollo program.

NASA was able to bring astronauts back from space, but not plastic. Moon Mission 2030, the name of the Dutch project, is going to do something about it. Their current plan is to build a small robot to go and pick it up. It would be built with the help of students of many ages. The general idea is to have their small robot ready once astronauts will be ready to go back to the Moon in the not too dist future.

Do read the interview in Dutch in the link below.

(Link and image:

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May 27, 2019

Dutch UFO spotters freak out over satellites

Filed under: General,Weird by Orangemaster @ 8:58 pm


Dutch UFO reporting website was swamped with more than 150 sightings, with fervent UFO spotters describing a “bizarre train of stars or lights moving across the skies at constant speed”.

Instead of anything alien, it was a string of some 60 satellites launched by businessman Elon Musk’s SpaceX hours earlier as part of its ‘Starlink’ constellation. A lot of Dutch folks staring at the sky had no clue this was going to happen, so you can imagine the commotion it caused.

One of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets blasted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida last Friday, and an hour later began releasing the satellites at an altitude of 450 kilometres. The satellites then had to separate and use their thrusters to take up their positions in a relatively low orbit of 550 kilometres. Starlink will become operational once 800 satellites have been activated, which will require a dozen more launches.

Dutch astronomer Marco Langbroek noted on his blog that he calculated where the satellites would be orbiting, and waited with his camera. The result is a spectacular one: a string of bright dots flying across the sky, prompting people to report UFOs.

Here is Langbroek video of the event:


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February 12, 2019

Mars or bust: bust it is for Dutch mission

Filed under: General,Weird by Orangemaster @ 11:21 am

Back in 2012, Bas Lansdorp of Mars One was planning a reality show on Mars, but that has now officially been scrubbed, as Mars One declared bankruptcy last month. Behind the scenes, there is talk of solving the situation, but for now, nobody is going anywhere.

Some said it was a scam, others including many scientists said humankind is nowhere near ready to go to Mars, let alone in 10 years. It’s one thing for NASA and friends to organise such a mission, but we are now in an era where private companies are working on space exploration and that will change the financing and the goals of space travel. We live in exciting times.

We’ve had some Martian stories about Dutch suits being made for Mars, growing food for Mars and even two Dutchmen wanting to go to Mars. For now, all of it will have to remain in the realm of science fiction.


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January 31, 2019

Dutch company to let a woman give birth in space

Filed under: Science,Weird by Orangemaster @ 4:09 pm

Feel free to look up having sex in space regardless of who is involved, which I filed under ‘complicated/pass’ in my mind palace. However, if you want to move on to giving birth in space, there’s a Dutch company that wants to tell you about its plans.

Dutch company SpaceLife Origin, a collaboration between business people (dudes, right?) and organisational expert Egbert Edelbroek (a man) from Eindhoven. In 2024, the company’s goal would be to have a Dutch woman give birth in space.

“If we don’t learn how we can procreate in space, then as humans we’re bound to Earth, while life on Earth is increasingly under threat”, explains Edelbroek. It’s under threat because we’re billions of morons using the planet as our own personal rubbish bin, but sure. If we want to go to Mars, we’re theoretically going to have to find out what it’s like to procreate in space. I’m secretly hoping women just won’t want to, but that’s me talking science-fiction.

SpaceLife Origin wants to start with fertilisation in space using an embryo incubator called Mission Lotus. Experts warn against problems such as a baby being exposed to ionising radiation that causes cancer and the g-force that occurs with space flight. Oh, and weightlessness, and I’m sure a whole bunch of other things.

I hope the woman (women?) who sign up and anyone else really know what they are getting into, but that also goes for anybody who thinks getting to Mars is easy at this point.


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May 21, 2018

Dutch radio aboard Chinese space mission

Filed under: Dutch first,Technology by Orangemaster @ 9:40 pm


Today, the Chinese space agency launched a relay satellite to an orbit behind the Moon with a Dutch radio antenna on board, the first Dutch-made scientific instrument to be sent on a Chinese space mission, opening up a new chapter in radio astronomy.

The Netherlands Chinese Low-Frequency Explorer (NCLE) is a radio antenna developed and built by engineers from ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy in Dwingeloo, the Radboud Radio Lab of Radboud University in Nijmegen, and the Delft-based company ISIS. The instrument will measure radio waves originating from the period right after the Big Bang, when the first stars and galaxies were formed.

“We cannot detect radio waves below 30 MHz, however, as these are blocked by our atmosphere. It is these frequencies in particular that contain information about the early universe, which is why we want to measure them,” explains Heino Falck, Professor of Astrophysics from Radboud University and ASTRON.


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March 28, 2018

Friesland home to world’s oldest working planetarium

Filed under: General,History by Orangemaster @ 7:14 pm


Since the BBC has decided to talk about it, and many people have never heard of it, let’s tell you about the Royal Eise Eisinga Planetarium, the world’s oldest working planetarium or orrery, located in Franeker, Friesland.

Built from 1774 to 1781 by Eise Eisinga, it is a national monument, a “Baroque theatre for stargazers, crowning the living room of a modest wool comber who lived shortly after the Dutch Golden Age and an unfathomable undertaking considering Eisinga quit school aged 12”. Not only did the project take seven years to complete, but it nearly bankrupt him as well.

The amateur astronomer captured the universe in his living room, and the science behind it is still precise today. It is a working model of the solar system accurate for the time it was made, although Uranus, Neptune and Pluto (today a dwarf planet) are missing, as they hadn’t been discovered back then.

The film below is in Frisian and some commentary is in Dutch. You can see the old and new parts of the planetarium, as they eventually expanded having bought up neighbouring houses.

(Link:, Photo of Royal Eise Eisinga Planetarium by Bouwe Brouwer, some rights reserved)

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April 7, 2017

Leiden University creates smallest Dutch supercomputer

Filed under: IT by Orangemaster @ 3:17 pm

Little Green Machine II, the successor of Little Green Machine I built in 2010, is a Dutch supercomputer built by researchers at Leiden University together with help from IBM. It has a computing power of more than 0.2 Peta FLOPS, which is 200,000,000,000,000 calculations per second and will be used by researchers in oceanography, computer science, artificial intelligence, financial modeling and astronomy.

The biggest difference between the two LGMs is that LGM II uses graphics cards that are made for big scientific calculations, and not default video cards from gaming computers. As well, it uses OpenPower architecture developed by IBM instead of architecture from Intel. Little Green Machine II can apparently be carried around on a big bicycle – how Dutch is that.

The little supercomputer will be tested by simulating a collision between the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy, hence the Dutch space pic.

(Link:, Photo: A coloured photo of Hanny’s Voorwerp)

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December 12, 2016

Going to the edge of space with Dutch instruments

Filed under: General,Technology by Orangemaster @ 10:18 pm


In a few days, weather permitting, NASA’s stratospheric balloon STO2 will be launched from Antarctica to the edge of space to measure cosmic far infrared radiation in order to find out more about how stars and planets come to be.

The STO2 design has been headed by the University of Arizona, with vital contributions from SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research (Utrecht and Groningen) and Delft University of Technology.

One of the tools is a receiver at 4.7 terahertz, one of the three frequencies that help find the presence of elements in space, including electrically neutral atomic oxygen. The localisation of the latter can be achieved using a 4.7 terahertz receiver, the first time such a tool will be brought to the edge of space for an unrestricted view, for two weeks.

As well, The teams of Alexander Tielens (Leiden University) and Floris van der Tak (SRON/University of Groningen) will help analyse the observations.


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November 18, 2016

Dutch company Mars One makes suits for Mars

Filed under: General,Science by Orangemaster @ 9:55 am

The Dutch are already involved in trying to get to Mars, whether it’s growing food for the trip, simply wanting to take that one-way trip or being the first at having a reality show on Mars.

Now Dutch company Mars One has unveiled its first try at a space suit to protect humans on the red planet. “Made from material similar to that used for NASA’s astronauts when exploring the Moon [like the one in the picture], the suit’s design also takes into account new challenges, such as the omnipresent red dust”. I still have strange red dust from a hike on Crete on one pair of shoes, so I can only imagine what their issues are. The suits are also to protect against killer radiation and needs to fit different people. Some 3D printers will ensure new parts can be made. WIl there be a 3D printer to repair the 3D printer, I don’t know.

Have a look at what Mars One has been planning to do:


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