Images provided by shortwave infrared (SWIR) cameras from Sensors Unlimited (Princeton, NJ), part of Goodrich ISR Systems, supplied preliminary data that NASA scientists used to determine the presence of water on the Moon. During its historic mission on October 9, 2009, a NASA rocket was launched into a crater near the Moon's south pole (see "Lunar crash to be imaged by Sensors Unlimited/Goodrich cameras"); images from the SWIR cameras showed evidence of water in the post-crash debris plume.
The lunar crash was part of NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission to search for water on the Moon. Two Goodrich SWIR—referred to by NASA as "near infrared"—cameras were part of the payload aboard the spacecraft, along with the Centaur rocket that was hurled onto the Moon's surface. Images of the vapor and debris plume created by the rocket's impact were recorded by the SWIR cameras, and were analyzed to determine the presence of water on the Moon.
Because the Goodrich SWIR cameras detect moisture contrast through dust, smoke and fog, they were able to accurately record the LCROSS crash incident for precise study of the debris cloud. SWIR technology detects reflected light at wavelengths that the human eye cannot see, in wavelength bands between visible and thermal cameras. Use of advanced materials and circuitry allow for the cameras to be very small and lightweight, making them ideal for space travel.
"Our talented ISR Systems team has played a key role in determining the future of Space exploration and our understanding of the solar system," said Ed Hart, VP and general manager, Princeton operations, Goodrich ISR Systems. "The SWIR technology continues to demonstrate unmatched capability and high reliability under extreme operating conditions, from the sub-zero degree depths of space to fire-fighting and battlefield environments."
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