Solar Dynamics Observatory launches, carries six e2v cameras

Feb. 11, 2010
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) launched this morning at 10:23 a.m. EST.

Cape Canaveral, FL--NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) launched this morning at 10:23 a.m. EST. The SDO's path will eventually place it in a tilted geosynchronous orbit. From that altitude, the spacecraft will point its instruments at the Sun and relay the readings instantly to a ground station in New Mexico. (The tilt in the orbit is designed to keep the SDO in view of the ground station at all times.)

The research is expected to reveal the Sun's inner workings by constantly taking high-resolution images of the Sun, collecting readings from inside the sun and measuring its magnetic-field activity. This data is expected to give researchers the insight they need to eventually predict solar storms and other activity on the sun that can affect spacecraft in orbit, astronauts on the International Space Station and electronic and other systems on Earth.

The SDO has three scientific instruments on board; the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA), the EUV Variability Experiment (EVE) and the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI). e2v imaging sensors were supplied for the HMI and AIA instruments which were both built by the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory (LMSAL).

Four back-illuminated, two front-illuminated
The SDO contains six e2v CCD imaging sensors made by e2v (Chelmsford, England). Four specially processed back-illuminated e2v CCD203-82 (4k x 4k) sensors sensitive to extreme-UV (EUV) wavelengths are incorporated into the four AIA telescopes, which will observe the Sun in the 9.4 to 170 nm wavelength range. The AIA instrument will use solar images taken in multiple wavelengths to study the energetics of the solar atmosphere and its interaction with the Sun's surface magnetic fields.

Two front-illuminated e2v CCD203-82 (4k x 4k) sensors are part of the HMI instrument to image the Sun in visible light at 617 nm. The HMI instrument and will measure both solar surface magnetic fields and the Sun's surface motion as a probe of the solar interior.

Though the performance was optimized for each instrument, all CCDs have the same electrical format and were designed to operate at lower voltages than normal. This facilitates provision of drive electronics and also reduces the power demand on the spacecraft. The camera electronics were built in the UK by e2v's project partners at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

About the Author

John Wallace | Senior Technical Editor (1998-2022)

John Wallace was with Laser Focus World for nearly 25 years, retiring in late June 2022. He obtained a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and physics at Rutgers University and a master's in optical engineering at the University of Rochester. Before becoming an editor, John worked as an engineer at RCA, Exxon, Eastman Kodak, and GCA Corporation.

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