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23 September 2014

Sofradir launches ready-to-deploy large-format 1024x1024 visible-to-SWIR detector for space missions

Sofradir of Palaiseau near Paris, France, which makes cooled infrared (IR) detectors based on mercury cadmium telluride (MCT/HgCdTe), indium antimonide (InSb), quantum-well infrared photodetector (QWIP) and indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) technology for military, space and industrial applications, has introduced Next-Generation Panchromatic (NGP) 1k2, a new ready-to-deploy 1024x1024 visible-to-SWIR (short-wavelength infrared) detector.

NGP’s large format provides increased space resolution or spectral resolution for image spectrometers and other observation instruments used in space, enhancing the ability of scientists to correctly identify and characterize chemical phenomena. Equally importantly, NGP’s ready-to-deploy design allows space agency customers to quickly tailor it to fit any spectral waveband, offering system integrators more flexibility and shortening mission preparation time.

Sofradir developed the large-format NGP as part of an R&Dcontract with the European Space Agency (ESA). Its 1k x 1k format is four times larger than Sofradir’s existing SATURN staring array IR product currently deployed on observation satellites or spacecrafts.

As initially planned, it took 24 months to design and validate NGP. The bigger the format, the better the image resolution, making it well suited to future hyperspectral or spectrometry applications but also to Earth observation or deep-space science applications, says the firm.

“The product’s ready-to-deploy feature responds to demands to shorten space mission delivery times or to minimize the risks in delays,” says Sofradir’s space department manager Philippe Chorier. “Based on its added performance and time saving benefits, we anticipate a lot of interest in NGP 1k2 in future space missions,” he adds.

Due to its 1024x1024 15μm-pitch-format HgCdTe array - sensitive from visible to SWIR (0.35-2.5μm), hybridized on a capacitive feedback transimpedance amplifier (CTIA) read-out integrated circuit demonstrating low noise (<150 electrons), low consumption and high linearity (>99% of the dynamic range) - the focal plane assembly met all expectations (e.g. ROIC design first-pass success) and provides the imaging performances (low PRNU photoresponse nonuniformity, low dark current, high MTF modulation transfer function) required by future space-based payloads.

NGP is claimed to be the first European-made space-oriented megapixel array that space agencies can now consider for deep space science (planets and asteroids studies), Earth observation and Earth monitoring (meteorology, global warming studies, agriculture surveillance) applications. This year the NGP detector was selected for the SENTINEL-5 mission, which is planned for launch by 2021 on-board the METOP-SG satellite in order to monitor the Earth’s atmosphere from a polar orbit.

Sofradir in space

With about 70 flight models already delivered over the last ten years, Sofradir says that it holds a unique position as the only maker of IR detectors in Europe to be space-proven. Infrared detectors from Sofradir are currently on-board Helios II (Earth observation) and Spirale (early warning system) military satellites, as well as the Venus Express scientific probe (SPICAV/SOIR instrument - Spectrometry for Investigation of Characteristics of the Atmosphere of Venus/Solar Occultation IR). The firm’s IR products have also been delivered for deployment in space instruments on Sentinel 2, part of the European GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) space initiative, on the TROPOMI/Sentinel 5 Precursor (part of the GMES), the hyperspectral Earth observation system PRISMA (Italy) and HYSUI (Japan), as well as on scientific instruments such as Phobos Grunt and Nomad (ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter).

Other programs in progress include: MUSIS/CSO (a successor to HELIOS II), MTG (Meteosat Third Generation, ESA), and the SGLI (Second generation GLobal Imager) instrument onboard GCOM-C (Global Change Observing Mission -Climate), HAYABUSA2 (asteroid study) and CHANDRAYAAN-2 (lunar surface mapping).

Tags: Sofradir HgCdTe IR detectors

Visit: www.sofradir.com

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