The US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has awarded a $17 million, five-year contract, including options, to Inframetrics (North Billerica, MA) for more than 500 Long-Range Infrared Surveillance Systems. Jay Teich, company president, says, "It is the largest infrared-surveillance purchase in the USA and should cover all of the US Border Patrol requirements until the turn of the century." The Border Patrol will use the devices to detect illegal entry of aliens and contraband. The cameras sense body heat and thus can operate in total darkness and poor weather conditions. Detection range is more than five miles, and the 35-lb sensor head can be mounted on fixed or mobile platforms.
Cameras and detectors chosen for 1998 Mars mission
NASA has selected several optical instruments for its Mars Surveyor `98 Orbiter and Lander spacecraft. The orbiter will carry a 1-kg color imager from Malin Space Science (San Diego, CA) that is only 1/20 the mass of the firm`s camera that will fly on the Mars Global Surveyor lifting off in 1996. The new system features a wide-angle camera with 0.5- to 4.5-mile resolution for daily weather mapping and a medium-angle 130-ft-resolution unit to study surface changes over time due to atmospheric conditions and wind. The orbiter will also carry a pressure-modulator infrared radiometer made by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Pasadena, CA) that will profile atmospheric temperature and monitor water vapor and dust.
Star tracker/GPS system may eliminate spacecraft mechanical gyros
November trials may determine whether a combination star-tracker and differential-GPS receiver can provide effective spacecraft attitude and orbit positioning more reliably and at lower cost than mechanical gyroscopes. The ASTRO-SPAS ultraviolet-camera satellite will be deployed from the Space Shuttle with such a system backing up its gyros. A Loral (Gaithersburg, MD) GPS receiver will position the satellite to within 1° of its desired attitude. A Sira Electro-optics (Chislehurst, England) star tracker then takes over to point the spacecraft with an accuracy of 1 arcsec. If the combination system is successful, the subsequent ASTRO-SPAS mission in July 1997 will dispense with gyro positioning.
Large CCD-array camera will spearhead sky survey
The Sloan 2.5-m telescope in Apache Point, NM, scheduled for completion this year, will conduct the first digital sky survey of the northern celestial hemisphere. The last such survey was conducted by the Palomar Observatory in the 1950s. Survey director Don York of the University of Chicago (Chicago, IL) notes, "The one-meter camera inside the Sloan Telescope will contain 54 custom CCDs, enabling us to identify and record 100 million objects by the beginning of the 21st century." That is about 20 terabytes of information. The Sloan telescope will survey objects 10,000 times the distance of those cataloged by Palomar. The thinned, back-illuminated CCDs made by Scientific Imaging Technologies (SITe, Beaverton, OR) are grouped into thirty 2048 × 2048-pixel arrays and twenty-four 2000 × 400 arrays. Digitized survey data will be available to and reusable by both professional and amateur astronomers.
Also in the news . . .
Thermoelectrically cooled HgCdZnTe detectors with frequency response to 160 MHz and optimized at 10.6 µm are being imported from Poland by Boston Electronics (Brookline, MA). . . . Telecom Holding (Bangkok, Thailand) has agreed on a $27.1 million equity investment in flat-panel-display maker Kopin (Taunton, MA). . . . As a result of a partnership agreement, the ultraclean integrated- circuit-manufacturing technology of process-control and automation-systems supplier Asyst Technologies (Milpitas, CA) will be applied to flat-panel-display manufacturing by Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. . . . Air Force Phillips Laboratory (Kirtland AFB, Albuquerque, NM) intends to select a contractor for analysis, development, simulation, scientific evaluation, and technical assistance in atmospheric physics and adaptive-optics compensation for ground-based laser, airborne laser, and imaging technology efforts. To request a copy of the formal request for proposal contact Teresa Martinez via fax at (505) 846-1546.