SWIR detectors from Sofradir selected for Sentinel 5 Precursor environmental monitoring satellite

June 1, 2011
Châtenay-Malabry, France--The contract to provide shortwave infrared (SWIR) arrays for the Sentinel 5 Precursor mission was awarded to Sofradir.

Châtenay-Malabry, France--The contract to provide shortwave infrared (SWIR) arrays for the TROPOMI/S5 (Sentinel 5 Precursor) mission as part of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) space initiative (GMES is a joint undertaking of the European Commission and the European Space Agency or ESA) was awarded to Sofradir, developer and manufacturer of advanced IR detectors for military, space, and industrial applications.

Under the contract, Sofradir will deliver off-the-shelf 1000 x 256 SWIR arrays based on its mercury cadmium telluride (MCT/HgCdTe) technology. Selecting a Sofradir off-the-shelf model with proven performance and reliability has eliminated the need for Sofradir to go through a preliminary design phase, which can involve extensive screening and qualification. This translates into an 18-month saving in delivery time of the flight models. As a result, all deliveries will be completed within 24 months.

"This new contract shows that Sofradir has the right infrared products for the space community," said Philippe Bensussan, chairman and CEO at Sofradir. "Repeat orders of our off-the-shelf space-qualified MCT detectors allow us to offer IR products to our space customers at affordable prices with short lead times and minimal risk."

The Sentinel-5-Precursor mission, scheduled for launch in 2014, is intended to fill a time gap between Envisat, an earlier generation of earth observation satellites for climate and environment monitoring, and Sentinel 5, which will be on-board the Post-EPS satellite scheduled for launch around 2019.

The SWIR with hermetic package without cooling system was selected because it offered some major advantages in reliability and power consumption. Unlike an active cooler that has moving mechanical parts that can shorten the overall life of the detector, passive cooling significantly increases reliability as it is dependent on the focal-plane array (FPA) only. Sofradir IR detectors aboard the spaceborne observation satellite Helios IIA have been operating continuously since the 2004 launch. The fully hermetic package with optimized thermal interface minimizes the cooling requirement. Other technological advances at Sofradir have enabled it to produce SWIR detectors that exhibit very high performance at relatively high temperatures (140K, -133°C), which means that they also consume less power.

Sofradir’s IR detectors are also being used on ESA’s Venus Express satellite (launched in 2005) and the French MoD SPIRALE satellites. All of the detectors are still exhibiting nominal performance. Other space activities include the Japanese space agency (JAXA) SGLI/G-COM (Second Generation GLI/Global Change Observation Mission), where Sofradir’s IR detectors are in Flight Model Phase. In 2010, Sofradir delivered 26 detectors for space programs. Development teams at Sofradir are also working on a 1000 x 1000 SWIR array partially funded by ESA. This detector has been earmarked as a candidate for several ESA-led projects in the future.

SOURCE: Sofradir; www.sofradir.com/news/news_developpee.php?select=50

Posted by:Gail OvertonSubscribe now to Laser Focus World magazine; It’s free! Follow us on TwitterFollow OptoIQ on your iPhone. Download the free App here

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