Sentinel 2 – Ari Atoll, Maldives

Space Optics Instrument Design & Technology 2023

30 April - 5 May 2023

Poltu Quatu, Sardinia

About the course

The European Space Agency took in 2015 the initiative to organize a course for professionals operating in the sector of optical engineering for  Space. Two types of courses are organized: one dedicated to space optics instrument design and the other space optics instrument technology. The two courses are organised alternatively, one per year. The course of 2023 is targeted at space optics instrument design.

The team of lecturers consists of professionals with a long-standing experience in the sector. Their accessibility during the course, gives the participants a unique opportunity to deepen their knowledge with one-to-one meetings aside from the planned lectures.

The venue hosting students and lecturers gives plenty of opportunities to develop a professional network. Sharing problems and discussing solutions together is the way to build a community of space optical engineers enabling and fostering growth in the space sector as a whole.

The contracted venue is again the Grand Hotel Poltu Quatu, close to Olbia – Sardinia (Italy)


For registration to the course and all financial matters please follow the link:

SOIDT 2023 Registration


Course Overview and Schedule

The 2023 course will focus on the Space Optics Instrument Design process. All aspects and fields, important for the development of a successful optical payload will be addressed and its field interaction will be illustrated. This will help young engineers working as an optical-, mechanical-, thermal-, AIT-, PA-engineer or manager to broaden their view and to better understand the interaction of the different areas and the complexity of the optical payload development.

The schedule of the course can be downloaded here:

SOIDT - Design 2023 curriculum

Lecturer and Lecture Abstracts

Chris Evans,

PhD Astronomy


Position: Head of the ESA Office at Space Telescope Science Institute (Baltimore, US)
Lecturing: JWST – One Year in Operation

Chris Evans oversees all ESA personnel who support the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope. He is also responsible for Hubble and Webb outreach efforts in Europe, which include the dissemination of the results from both observatories and communications with the public. Additionally, he serves as the ESA project scientist for Hubble and Webb guest observers.

2022 –  Head of ESA Office, STScI
2015 – 2022 Head of Science, UK Astronomy Technology Centre, Edinburgh
2005 – 2015 Project Scientist, UK Astronomy Technology Centre, Edinburgh
2002 – 2005 Postdoctoral Researcher, Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes, La Palma
2001 – 2002 Postdoctoral Researcher, University College London
1997 – 2001 PhD in Astronomy, University College London

JWST – One Year in Operation

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is transforming our view of the Universe, from observations in our own Solar System, out to the early formation of galaxies just after the Big Bang. In this lecture I will

review the first year of JWST operations, including an overview of its instrument capabilities and performance, and some of the exciting science results from its first science programmes.


Tobias Boenke

Dipl.-Ing. Aerospace Engineering


Position: ESA EUCLID Mission  System Engineer
Lecturing: Space Optical System Requirements Definition

Tobias Boenke is a Mission Systems Engineer working at the European Space Agency in the Science Projects department.

Before joining the Agency, he was a Performance and Detection Chain Engineer for Earth Observation instruments such as Sentinel 4 and MTG IRS. In the Agency he held the position of Payload Study Manager for the LOFT (X-Ray Timing) and PLATO (Exo-Planet Detection) missions.


2019 – Present: Euclid Mission System Engineer, Euclid Project, Science Directorate, ESA ESTEC, Netherlands
2016 – 2019: Euclid NISP Instrument Engineer, Euclid Project, Science Directorate, ESA ESTEC, Netherlands
2013 – 2015: Payload Study Manager, Future Missions, Science Directorate, ESA ESTEC, Netherlands
2008 – 2012: System Engineer for Earth Observation Instruments, Kayser-Threde (now OHB), Munich, Germany
2003 – 2008: Dipl.-Ing. Aerospace Engineering, TU Munich, Germany

Space Optical System Requirements Definition

Early in the lifecycle of projects Systems Engineering processes focus on the analysis of stakeholders needs and the definition of adequate requirements for the subsequent design and development phases. The lecture aims to describe the requirements engineering process with a focus on the analysis of science and user needs in typical Space Optical Instrumentation applications and the derivation of key optical system design parameters. We try to cover examples and practices to derive the most common types of requirements: geometrical , image quality, spectral, calibration and characterization and radiometric. In addition we will describe tools and methods to support completeness, traceability, verification and validation.

Flurin Heren

BSc, Mechanical Engineering



Position: Optomechanical Engineer,  Ansys Zemax
Lecturing: Optical CAD Instrument Modelling and Analysis

Flurin is the Optomechanical Engineer of Ansys Zemax ACE Team in Europe. Since he joined in early 2021, he has focused on helping Zemax customer in the use of OpticStudio, bringing Zemax OpticsBuilder to market, delivering webinar and online trainings to the Zemax e-learning platforms and working on the interoperability of Zemax OpticStudio with a vast variety of other design software such as Creo Parametric, Ansys Mechanical and Ansys Speos.

2021 – Present: Optomechanical Engineer, Ansys Zemax London, UK
2016 – 2020: BSc, Microtechnology / Optics and Photonics, University of Applied Science Bern, Switzerland
2011 -2015 BSc, Mechanical Engineering, Technical College Fribourg, Switzerland

ZEMAX Training

Beginner class:
  • OpticStudio Introduction
  • Performance analysis of an optical system (Spot, Aberrations, wavefront, PSF, MTF,…)
  • Merit Function
  • Local Optimization
  • Tolerancing (short information)
Advanced class:
  • short OpticStudio introduction and short performance analysis of an optical system (Spot, Aberrations, wavefront, PSF, MTF,…)
  • Merit Function, local and global optimization, tolerance analysis
  • Straylight analysis and/or
  • Controlling Zemax from other Software such as Python

Roland Geyl, MSc.

Optical Engineer


Position: Business development, REOSC
Lecturing: Introduction to Imaging Optical systems

Roland GEYL is an Optical Engineer graduated from Paris Orsay Institute of Optics working at Reosc, SAFRAN Group in France. During four decades he contributed to most of the space projects at REOSC either as lens designer, manufacturing and testing engineer, program manager, sales manager and plant director. Today he focuses on business development. His main task is to explore new business opportunities for REOSC and act as expert in high performance optics design, manufacturing and testing. Current research is on free-form optics for astronomy and space.



2019 – Today President of ‘Freeform Optics – Research & Solution’ Association (FO-RS) in France

2013 – today  Safran-Reosc, France, Sales & Business development

1999 – 2012  Sagem-Reosc, France, Sales Manager & Safran Emeritus Expert in High performance optics

1981 – 1998  Reosc, France, Lens design & Engineering / Optical manufacturing & Testing/ Program management / Division Manager )

1976 – 1979  Study at Ecole Superieure d’Optique (Major of promotion)

1982 – 2002  Lecturer of Lens Design course at the Ecole Superieure d’Optique, Paris-Orsay

Introduction to Imaging Optical systems

The subject of this course module is to review the basics of imaging optical systems and the key few things to know in order to make more efficient use of lens design software tools for space optical instrumentation: the paraxial domain, the chromatic effects , third order aberrations, telescope systems, review of optical designs used in space imagers, freeform optics. The main goal is to offer a comprehensive overview of this complex subject without boring formulas and to help them to determine a sound starting point for maximizing success of the subsequent optimization work. Illustration will be done by short exercises.   

Bernd Harnisch,

PhD Physics


Position: SOIDT course academic programme manager
Lecturing: Spectrometer Design, Hands-on application

Bernd Harnisch worked 23 years at the European Space Agency in the Optics section as optical engineer. During his career he was responsible for technology developments on telescopes, spectrometers and lightweight ceramic mirror materials. Further on he was supporting the following optical flight instruments: GOMOS on ENVISAT, MSG, GERB on MSG, NIRSpec for JWST, MIRI for JWST and SEOSAT. Co-founder of the SOIDT course and programme manager of the SOIDT academic programme.

2016 –   SOIDT academic programme manager
1992 – 2015 ESTEC, optical engineer in the Optics section
1997 – 1992 Scientific Assistant in at Friedrich-Schiller University Jena
1985 – 1987 Academy of Sciences Jena
1981 – 1985 PhD in Holographic Interferometry at Friedrich-Schiller University Jena
1976 – 1981 study of Physics at Friedrich-Schiller University Jena

Spectrometer Design

In this lecture the design of optical spectrometer is  explained. The general spectrometer set-up and the the basic formulas for the diffraction grating and the refraction prism will be recalled. Typical spectrometer configurations will be discussed and their advantages will be highlighted. The manufacturing process for gratings will be addressed. In an example the first order design process of an spectrometer will be shown: starting from the spectrometer requirements the grating line density and the focal lengths of the Spectrometer Collimator and Imager will be deduced.

Hands-on Activity

In the hands-on activity the participants will develop a spectrometer. Starting from a set of requirements they will perform the optical and opto-mechanical design, they will manufacture and integrate the spectrometer, verify the achieved performances and give a short presentation of the achieved results.



MSc. Engineer



Position: ESA Euclid Mission &
Payload Manager
Lecturing: Mechanical Engineering

Jean-Christophe Salvignol is the Ariel project manager working in the Science directorate of the European Space Agency. He leads a team in charge of the development of the Ariel mission aiming at the characterisation of exoplanets. Before that he was in charge of the development of the Euclid Payload Module composed of an all ceramic telescope and of two large instruments. He also acquired a solid expertise in mechanical engineering thanks to his positions of mechanical engineer in JWST and Rosetta.

2019 – 2022 Ariel Project Manager
2012 – 2019 ESA, Euclid Mission & Payload Manager
2004 – 2012 ESA, JWST NIRSpec and MIRI Mechanical Engineer 2001 – 2004 ESA, Rosetta Mechanical Engineer
1992 – 2001 ATOS-NL Consultant in structural design and analysis for space programs
1986 – 1991 Engineering degree at Institute National des Sciences Appliquées

Mechanical Engineering

Designing an optical instrument or a telescope is a system job that requires solid theoretical knowledge of optics, but this is not sufficient! A good understanding of material properties, structural behaviour, thermal aspects, manufacturing, cleanliness requirements and the AIT process is mandatory to meet the required performances.

This course will aim at giving some basic knowledge about structural design & verification and (a bit) of materials. It won’t be sufficient to become a knowledgeable mechanical engineer but should at least allow the optical designer to understand the risks and potential issues and to discuss with mechanical experts when needed.

This lecture will address in particular:
– Basics of mechanics
– Mechanisms
– Threats to the image quality
– Materials
– Mounting Solutions
– Verification

Gregory Lousberg

MSc. Physical Engineering




Position: Optical & System Engineer, AMOS(B)
Lecturing: Lens Mounting

Gregory Lousberg is the head of the system engineering division at Advanced Mechanical and Optical Systems (AMOS), Liege, Belgium. He is involved in spaceborne optical instruments as well as in ground-based telescopes. In particular, he worked as lead system engineer for
– Back Telescope Assembly (MTG-S)
– GESTA, an OGSE for the IRS performance and calibration tests (MTG-S)
– FLEX hyperspectral spectrometer (pre-development phase A/B1)
– ELOIS, a compact VIS-SWIR hyperspectral instrument for Earth observation
– CHIME hyperspectral spectrometer (Sentinels mission of the Copernicus program)

2020 – now   AMOS, head of System Engineering Division 2010 – 2020  AMOS, Optical & System Engineer
2006 – 2010  PhD in Superconductivity, University of Liege
2000 – 2016  Master in physical engineering, University of Liege and Swiss Polytechnic School of Lausanne (EPFL)

Lens Mounting 

The lecture aims at providing design tools and good practice rules to deal with opto-mechanical design of lens assemblies. It covers tolerance analyses of optical design involving lenses, a description of the different lens mounting techniques with pros and cons discussion, lens alignment and integration aspects and system validation approaches.

Romain Peyrou-Lauga

MSc. Thermal Engineer



Position: Thermal Engineer at ESA
Lecturing: Instrument Thermal Design and Analysis

Romain has 25 years of experience in Space Thermal Engineering, including 12 years in industry at Airbus Defence and Space (Toulouse), as thermal analyst and thermal architect for several Earth observation and Science instruments. Working now at ESA, he mainly supported Science projects (SWARM, CHEOPS, Comet Interceptor…) and his main project is currently JUICE (JUpiter Icy Moon Explorer). He is also the Technology Focal Point at ESA for both Multi-Layer Insulations (MLI) and Phase-Change Material (PCM) thermal capacitors.

2010-present: Thermal engineer at ESA
        – main thermal engineer for JUICE, Comet Interceptor, CHEOPS
        – support to several projects (SWARM, Sentinel 1, EDRS…)
1998-2010 : Thermal engineer at Airbus Defence and Space (Toulouse, France)
        – thermal architect of Sentinel 2 instrument, GAIA Focal Plance Assembly demonstrator, Herschel Telescope
        – support to several projects of Earth observation instruments
        – thermal analysis and tests for several projects (SPOT 5, Helios 2, Telecom satellites…)

Instrument Thermal Design and Analysis

Designing optical instruments, for space as well as ground applications, requires careful optimisation, at systems level, between the desired optical performances, and the mechanical stability and the coupled thermo-mechanical effects, but not limited to thermal expansion coefficients.  Today most optical systems also comprises AO subsystems (Adaptive and/or Active Optics items) that again are sources of thermal loads, and induced stress and vibrations that further influences the ultimate optical performances.

For space instruments, vacuum, Sun radiation and even the Earth Albedo, depending on orbit, will influence the thermal behaviour of the instrument, often differently than on Earth and during performance tests.

Thermal aspects enter the Optical System design at many levels, hence the thermal performance optimisation require a constant and bidirectional interaction between the optical, the mechanical and the electrical engineers during the concept development, validation and testing phases.

This course chapter aims to review different coupled interactions of thermal behaviour on the optics, on the structure and on/from the related active and passive parts. Interactions via the respective material properties and choices, their design, assembly and dimensioning thereof, including approaches to minimise the thermal sensitivity of your optical system design will be presented.

Angela Piegari,

MSc. Physics



Position: Space Optics Advisor
Lecturing: Optical Coating Design

She has been working for more than 30 years in the field of optical thin films and coatings at ENEA (Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and the Sustainable Development) where she has been in charge of the Optical Coatings Laboratory. She has collaborated with many International Organizations and European Institutes, including ESA. In the past years she has been appointed as President of the “Italian Society of Optics and Photonics” (national branch of the European Optical Society), and member of the Executive Board of the European Technical Platform Photonics21. She recently left ENEA and is presently acting as co-director of the biannual International School of Space Optics-ISSO and member of the Programme Committee of the International Conference on Space Optics-ICSO.


2010 – 2021 Research Director at ENEA
1994 – 2015 Responsible for the Optical Coatings Laboratory at ENEA
1977 – 1994 Researcher in the field of Optical Coatings
1977  Physics degree with honors

Optical Coating Design

Optical coatings are widely used in space instrumentation and in some cases they represent even the most critical elements of the instrument. A large class of coatings is based on interference phenomena that take place in layered structures; nevertheless the behavior of several coatings is essentially due to the materials properties. The selection of materials and the design of the coating structure will be described, depending on both the required performance and the operational wavelengths. Many types of coatings will be analyzed: high-reflectance mirrors, antireflection coatings, narrow-band filters, blocking filters, beam splitters, etc., highlighting the critical aspects. The effect of the angle of incidence and polarization, as well as the influence of the environment conditions will be discussed. Examples of application in space instruments will be also shown.

Volker Kirschner

MSc. Physics



Position: Head of Optics Section, ESA
Lecturing: Straylight Analysis and Control, Hands-on Activity

Volker Kirschner is the Head of the Optics Section in the Technical Directorate of the European Space Agency. He leads a team of Optical Engineers supporting the development of passive optical instrumentation from the early conceptual design to final testing. In addition, he and his team define and run developments to push the limits of existing optical component technologies and to explore novel instrument concepts. His experience is based on his optical engineering support to numerous missions such as MERIS, Herschel, Planck, Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-5.

2021  – Head of the Optics Section
2001 –2021 Optical Instrument Engineer at the European Space Agency, Noordwijk
1998 – 2001  Optical Engineer at Dutch Applied Research Organisation TNO, Delft
1997 – 1998  Young Graduate Trainee at the European Space Agency, Noordwijk
1996 – 1997  Research Assistant at Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Mechanics, Jena
1989 – 1996  Study of Physics at Friedrich-Schiller University Jena

Straylight Analysis and Control

The control of straylight is a driving aspect in modern optical instruments. The lecture will address the basic approaches how to suppress straylight in optical systems. The different types of straylight based on the originating concept will be explained. Guidelines for optical designs robust against straylight will be given and the principles of analysing the level straylight of an instrument will be illustrated. Finally, some examples of typical straylight performances of frequently used optical elements will be presented.


Hands-on Activity

In the hands-on activity the participants will develop a spectrometer. Starting from a set of requirements they will perform the optical and opto-mechanical design, they will manufacture and integrate the spectrometer, verify the achieved performances and give a short presentation of the achieved results.

Maurice Te Plate

MSc. Applied Physics



Position : ESA NIRSpec Systems Engineer for the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA Goddard
Lecturing : Performance Verification

Maurice te Plate is a systems engineer working at the European Space Agency.  He is currently holding the position of NIRSpec Systems Engineer for JWST. He is based at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland and also has an office at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. His main fields of technical expertise are physics and optics.


2017 – today  NASA Goddard and ESA STScI, ESA NIRSpec Systems Engineer
2012 – 2017  NASA Goddard, ESA JWST System Integration and Test Manager
2003 – 2012  ESA-ESTEC, ESA JWST Optical System Engineer
2001 – 2002  ESA-ESTEC, Optical Engineer in the Optics section
1995 – 2001  TNO Institute of Applied Physics, Optical Engineer/Designer
1994  Abbott Laboratories USA, Optical Consultant
1988 – 1993  Master’s Degree in Applied Physics at Technical University of Twente

Performance Verification 

In the world of space optical instrument design, proper optical performance verification is of pivotal importance. Maurice te Plate has extensive experience in this field. Part 1 of this session will describe the suite of optical performance verification techniques available to the modern optical engineer and part 2 will focus on a specific case, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the biggest and most complex space telescope ever built.

 Glen Jaross

> PhD Physics

Position: Research Associate, Laboratory for Atmospheres, Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA
Lecturing: Integrated design of instrument calibration

Glen Jaross has for more than 30 years been designing, testing, and calibrating Earth-observing solar-reflective sensors, primarily for ozone measurement.  His primary responsibilities have been with the TOMS and OMPS instruments, for which he has led all phases of pre-launch and post-launch characterization support.  He currently serves as the OMPS Instrument Scientist, having participated in its development since the late 1990s, and helping to design the operational calibration system.  He continues to oversee design refinements in OMPS, a family of 17 sensors that will fly on NOAA satellites through 2040.  He also serves on the science or validation teams for the OMI, TropOMI, SAGE 3, and GEMS instruments. Dr. Jaross holds a special interest in validation of sensor calibration and multi-sensor inter-calibration.  He pioneered a technique for directly comparing polar-orbiting sensors over ice surfaces, and has worked on methods for evaluating UV/VIS radiometry utilizing radiative transfer modeling. 



2013 – present   NASA research scientist

1990 – 2012        Instrument calibration analyst supporting NASA/GSFC

1982 – 1990        Graduate research, high energy particle physics, Univ. of Illinois

1978 – 1982         Engineering Physics student, Univ. of Illinois

Integrated design of instrument calibration

This talk will explore the basis for instrument calibration.  Which instrument characteristics do we choose to calibrate, and how do we know how accurately to calibrate?  Too loose, and we jeopardize science.  Too tight, and we waste time and money.  There are some basic parameters that must always be calibrated.  But others, such as radiometric calibrations, are dictated by instrument and operations design.  There is no single correct answer.  Two different instruments with the same science objectives may legitimately have different calibration needs.  Using a case study of Earth-observing instruments we will explore the iterative process leading to a successful instrument calibration concept.  Measurement and calibration requirements are the key to realizing an instrument that adheres to this concept, so we will also explore the process of developing effective requirements.  And, finally, we will look at how well-written requirements can influence the pre-launch instrument calibration program.

Jorge Fiebrich

> MEngn. Space Systems and Business


Position: Ariel Product Assurance and Safety Manager, ESA
Lecturing: Product Assurance for Optical Instruments

Jorge Fiebrich is the Ariel Product Assurance and Safety Manager working at the European Space Agency. He coordinates a small team of experts in the quality domain and is responsible for the overall spacecraft product assurance and safety activities. Product assurance activities are covering a wide range of activities such Quality assurance, RAMS, Materials and processes, cleanliness, radiation hardness and software assurance, all of which are required to ensure that the final product not only meets the requirements during the verification campaign but also keeps meeting them throughout the satellites live time.

2020 – Today  Ariel PA Manager
2018 – 2020                Solar Orbiter deputy PA Manager
2017 – 2018                MEeng. Graz University of Technology
2015 – 2018                PA manager of the ESTEC Test Centre
2014 – 2015                PA engineer for Lisa Pathfinder
2008 – 2014                AIT / Systems engineer at TNO (NL)
2005 – 2014                BEng. Electrical engineering, THRijswijk

Product Assurance for Optical Instruments
Developing an optical instrument for a space mission application requires a good understanding of the operational environment and constraints as sending a repair crew is normally speaking not an option. The optical performance of a systems is greatly dependent on the design, quality of manufacturing and the choice of materials, as even the best theoretical design can be thwarted by poor workmanship, uncontrolled processes or unsuitable materials and components. Product assurance aims to minimize the risk of adverse effects being introduced choice of wrong or not matching materials, uncontrolled or verified processes and management of cleanliness levels. This lecture will address in particular:
  • Materials and processes for optical system,
  • Manufacturing challenges and considerations,
  • Cleanliness and contamination control
  • Environmental considerations and effects
  • Read out electronics and EEE challenges / considerations.
  • Requirement baseline, change management

Luca Maresi,

MSc. Theor. Physics



Position: Lead Optical Engineer at ESA/ESTEC,
Lecturing: Complex Procurement

Luca Maresi has more than thirty years of experience as Optical System Engineer for Space systems at Leonardo (Italy), Terma (Denmark), and ESA. He has worked on a number of large projects, such as Cassini, Rosetta, and Sentinel 5 Precursor. He has also initiated and managed groundbreaking projects, such as the Star Tracker 15AS at Terma, the Proba-V payload, and the HyperScout. In October 2013 he was appointed as Head of the Optics Section. Luca Maresi is the Chairman of the Symposium on Small Satellite Systems and Services since 2004. In 2016, together with Bernd Harnisch, he started the SOIDT.

2021 – present: Lead Optical Engineer – Mechanical Dept. at ESA/ESTEC
2013 – 2021: Head of the Optics Section – Mechanical Dept. at ESA/ESTEC
2006 – 2013 Senior Optical System Engineer – Optics Section at ESA/ESTEC
2001 – 2006 Systems Engineer – Directorate of Industrial Matter and Technology at ESA/ESTEC
1996 – 2001 Senior Optical System Engineer – Space Division at Terma A/S – Denmark
1990 – 1996 Optical System Engineer – Space and Optics Division at Leonardo (formerly Officine Galileo) – Italy
1989 – 1990 System Engineer at Field Data – Italy
1989 Laurea in Physics – University of Milan

Complex Procurement

In most of the professional activities we will need to procure or sell complex equipment. In the Space optics business, it is normal practice to purchase sub-systems through a process that entails the definition of specification, a contract and a payment plan. The procurement can span over a few years, and the success of a project can be undermined whenever one of the unit is not delivered according to the needs. This process entails the preparation of the technical specifications, the work logic, a payment plan, key inspection points, and the acceptance of the purchased item. The lecture will provide an introduction on the process to defining the various part of the procurement of complex systems and will give real life experience of possible pitfalls when purchasing complex systems.