Sofradir to supply SWIR detectors for hyperspectral earth-imaging program

January 19, 2009--Sofradir (Chatenay-Malabry, France) said today it has agreed with Galileo Avionica (Italy), a worldwide supplier of space equipment, to supply it with Saturn, Sofradir's 1000x256 30 micrometer pitch short wave infrared (SWIR) detectors. Galileo will use the sensors in an Italian-led satellite program, PRISMA (precursor hyperspectral mission application), a system of hyperspectral-imaging earth-observation instruments.

January 19, 2009--Sofradir(Chatenay-Malabry, France), developer and manufacturer of infrared detectors for military, space and industrial applications, said today it has signed a contract with Galileo Avionica (Italy), a worldwide supplier of space equipment and member of the Finmeccanica Group. The company will supply Galileo Avionica with Saturn, Sofradir's 1000x256 30 micrometer pitch short wave infrared (SWIR) detectors. Galileo will use the mercury cadmium telluride (MCT)-based detectors in an Italian-led satellite program, PRISMA (precursor hyperspectral mission application)--a system of hyperspectral-imaging earth-observation instruments. The PRISMA orbit will be sun-synchronous with a mean altitude of 700 Km at the equator.

Sofradir's role in PRISMA is to scan portions of the earth and provide images from the visible to infrared. The hyperspectral information will substantially increase information about the chemical make-up of objects, a first for this environmental observation program. The data collected is expected to help researchers around the world address the quality and protection of the environment, sustainable development, and climate change.

Andrea Cisbani, PRISMA project manager at Galileo Avionica said: "We selected Sofradir because the company has shown that it is the most experienced, reliable and competitively priced European manufacturer for this kind of detector." This contract cements a long-standing business relationship between Sofradir and Galileo Avionica that dates back 12 years. According to Sofradir CEO Philippe Bensussan, "This contract also gives us the opportunity to further extend the space qualification of our Mercury Telluride Cadmium technology to the visible spectrum."

Under the contract, Sofradir will develop a specific and hermetic package suited for passive cooling and will manufacture two types of detectors: Very Near IR (VNIR), sensitive from 0.4 to 1 micrometer and SWIR sensitive from 0.9 to 2.5 micrometers. The flight models will be delivered to Galileo Avionica in 2010.

Sofradir's Saturn detector is a Mercury Cadmium Telluride (MCT/HgCdTe) array, a technology that offers the highest performance for IR object-identification. It has a length of 30mm, and the largest IR detector in Sofradir's product range. The detector includes 256 lines of 1000 pixels at 30 micrometer pitch. A different gain can be applied to each line, making this detector especially adapted to spectroscopy and hyperspectral imaging. In addition, a complementary technological process allows it to extend the responsivity down to the visible spectrum.

For more information see Sofradir's website.

Posted by Barbara G. Goode, barbarag@pennwell.com.

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