e2v wins contract to supply CMOS imaging sensors for ground-based astronomy

Aug. 10, 2012
Chelmsford, England--The Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASIAA) has awarded imaging solutions maker e2v with a complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) imaging sensors contract.

Chelmsford, England--The Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASIAA; Taipei, Taiwan) has awarded imaging solutions maker e2v with a complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) imaging sensors contract. Under the contract, e2v will supply ASIAA with a set of 40 large-area CMOS imaging sensors for three ground-based telescopes as part of the Transneptunian Automated Occultation Survey (TAOS II).

TAOS II will measure the size distribution of small objects (~1 km diameter) at the edge of the solar system in the Kuiper Belt and beyond. These objects are of scientific interest because they provide important information on the formation and dynamic evolution of the Solar System. TAOS II will operate three medium-sized telescopes at the Observatorio Astronomico Nacional (OAN) at San Pedro Mártir (SPM; Baja California, Mexico). Each telescope will be equipped with a custom high-speed camera capable of collecting image data on more than 10,000 stars simultaneously, at a readout rate of 20 Hz. The resulting data volume will be enormous, with over 300 Tbytes per year of raw image data.

These three telescopes will each have a 150 mm diameter focal plane that is equipped with 10 of the company's 8.8 Mpixel CMOS (active pixel sensor) devices that will be custom-designed, manufactured, and backthinned to provide very low read-noise (competitive to CCD sensors) and high spectral response. The 31 × 74 mm sensors will operate at 20 frames per second to detect the fraction of a second when a Kuiper belt object passes in front of a distant star and the photometric light dips. These very distant solar system objects are rarely studied because they are so small and faint, making it impossible to detect them directly.

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