Gaia's billion-pixel camera will map the Milky Way

Toulouse, France--A 0.5 x 1.0 m mosaic detector was assembled at the facility of prime contractor Astrium France for the European Space Agency's (ESA's) Gaia space mission. The detector is part of the largest digital camera ever built for a space mission, and has been mosaicked together from 106 separate charge coupled devices (CCDs) developed for the Gaia mission by e2v Technologies (Chelmsford, England). Each of the 106 detectors is a little smaller than a credit card at 4.7 x 6 cm, but thinner than a human hair.


The resulting "billion-pixel array" will serve as the super-sensitive ‘eye’ of ESA’s Galaxy-mapping Gaia mission. While the naked human eye can see several thousand stars on a clear night, Gaia will map a billion stars within our own Milky Way Galaxy and its neighbors during its five-year mission from 2013, charting their brightness and spectral characteristics along with their three-dimensional positions and motions.

The completed mosaic is arranged in seven rows of CCDs. The main array comprises 102 detectors dedicated to star detection. Four others check the image quality of each telescope and the stability of the 106.5º angle between the two telescopes that Gaia uses to obtain stereo views of stars. In order to increase the sensitivity of its detectors, the spacecraft will maintain their temperature of minus 110ºC.

Gaia’s CCD support structure, like much of the rest of the spacecraft, is made of silicon carbide (SiC). First synthesised as a diamond substitute, SiC has the advantage of low weight: the entire support structure with its detectors weighs only 20 kg.

Gaia will operate 1.5 million kilometers behind the earth, when looking from the sun, where Earth’s orbital motion balances out gravitational forces to form a stable point in space. As the spinning Gaia’s two telescopes sweep across the sky, the images of stars in each field of view will move across the focal plane array, divided into four fields variously dedicated to star mapping, position and motion, color and intensity, and spectrometry.

SOURCE: European Space Agency; www.esa.int/export/esaSC/SEMQ9V6TLPG_index_0.html


Posted by: Gail Overton 

Subscribe now to Laser Focus World magazine; It’s free! 

Follow us on Twitter

Follow OptoIQ on your iPhone. Download the free App here


Most Popular Articles

Webcasts

Opportunities in the Mid-IR

The technology for exploiting the mid-IR is developing rapidly:  it includes quantum-cascade lasers and other sources, spectroscopic instruments of many...

Fiber Optic Sensors – Fundamentals, Principles and Applications

In this webcast, sponsored by Nufern, we focus on optical fiber sensing technology.  Fundamental concepts will be presented first, followed by the under...

Infinite Possibilities – Easily Combining Scanner and Servo Motion

High precision motion control applications such as laser micromachining, 2-photon polymerization, glass panel and film patterning, and additive manufacturing...

Solutions in Search of Problems: What Spectroscopy Can Do for You

Spectroscopy is so pervasive that most of us take it for granted. We use it for routine laboratory and test measurements without appreciating how those same ...

Technical Digests

HIGH-ENERGY LASER COATINGS: Eliminating laser damage proactively

High-power and high-energy thin-film antireflection coatings for laser optics require careful des...
Sponsored by

LIBS -- spectroscopy for remote identification of materials

Laser-induced-breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) uses a pulsed laser to vaporize a small sample of a s...
Sponsored by

Laser Tools for Materials Processing

Laser materials processing requires not only the appropriate industrial laser system, but also a ...
Sponsored by

Click here to have your products listed in the Laser Focus World Buyers Guide.

RELATED PRODUCTS

Phantom v1610

Phantom v1610 high-speed digital camera can shoot 1 million FPS.

Phantom v711

Phantom v711 high-speed digital camera

Evolve 128 EMCCD Camera

Quantitative high performance with extreme sensitivity for low-light applications.

RELATED COMPANIES

Surface Optics Corp

Designs and manufactures hyperspectral and multispectral imagers operating from the ult...

Optics Balzers AG

Possesses comprehensive know-how in optical thin-film coatings and components, glass pr...

Cremat Inc

Manufactures and supplies charge-sensitive preamplifiers for use in nuclear and x-ray d...

Social Activity

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Copyright © 2007-2014. PennWell Corporation, Tulsa, OK. All Rights Reserved.PRIVACY POLICY | TERMS AND CONDITIONS