CCD image sensors from e2v launch aboard NASA Kepler star-monitoring spacecraft

Engineers at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., sought the optimal imaging sensors for a charge coupled device (CCD) camera system they were building for the NASA Kepler spacecraft.

Sep 1st, 2009
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Engineers at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., sought the optimal imaging sensors for a charge coupled device (CCD) camera system they were building for the NASA Kepler spacecraft. They found their solution at e2v Technologies plc in Chelmsford, England.

E2v Technologies engineers delivered the company’s CCD90 imaging sensors for Kepler’s photometer, designed and built by Ball Aerospace personnel. It is a 0.95-meter aperture, wide field-of-view Schmidt telescope, with a 1.4-meter primary mirror. With more than 95 megapixels, Kepler’s focal plane array of 42 e2v backside illuminated CCD90s forms the largest array of CCDs ever launched into space by NASA, says a company representative.

The e2v CCD imaging sensor used for the Kepler mission sports 2,200 by 1,044 active pixels, a 27-micron size, and an image area of 28 millimeters by 55 millimeters. The devices are back thinned for spectral response across the visible and near-infrared range.

Click here to enlarge image

“E2v’s imaging sensors are the heart of the Kepler mission,” says John Troeltzsch, Ball Aerospace program manager. “The CCDs will allow Kepler to detect Earthlike planets orbiting in the habitable zone around other stars, and possibly answer the million dollar question, ‘Are we alone?’”

The NASA Kepler spacecraft launched in March from Cape Canaveral, Fla., to simultaneously monitor from space more than 100,000 stars in the Milky Way Galaxy.

“Kepler, with its large focal plane array, will let us observe more than 100,000 stars simultaneously and discover as many as 100 earth-like planets during the course of the mission,” says Margaret A. Frerking, Kepler’s deputy project manager from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif.

For more information, contact e2v online at www.e2v.com.

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