Teledyne sensor maps moon’s surface on India’s spacecraft

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif.–Technology from Teledyne Scientific & Imaging LLC (TS&I), a subsidiary of Teledyne Technologies Inc., is incorporated in the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3).

Mar 1st, 2009

By Courtney E. Howard

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif.–Technology from Teledyne Scientific & Imaging LLC (TS&I), a subsidiary of Teledyne Technologies Inc., is incorporated in the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3). The M3, using Teledyne’s image sensor, is one of 11 instruments on the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, India’s first mission to the moon.

The enabling technology behind the M3 is a new type of combined visible-infrared image array developed by engineers at the Teledyne Imaging Sensors group at TS&I, reveals a representative.

The sensor array is produced using a mixture of three elements–mercury, cadmium, and tellurium–to grow crystals that are very sensitive to light. The crystal structure, which is called MCT, is grown precisely one atomic layer at a time in a vacuum chamber through the Molecular Beam Epitaxy process.

Teledyne’s MCT detectors have been used for infrared sensors in previous space missions, including NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The image sensor in M3 is different from earlier generations of infrared arrays in that special processing has been used to make the sensor capable of detecting both visible and infrared light.

This new type of detector technology, called “substrate-removed MCT,” is very sensitive, detecting roughly 80 percent of the incident light in visible and infrared bands.

During the next two years, the M3 is designed to image the entire lunar surface with impressive spatial and spectral resolution. The M3 is an “imaging spectrometer” that simultaneously takes images in 261 colors, from the blue end of visible light (430 nm) through near infrared wavelengths (3,000 nm). Comparison of the brightness in each narrow color band will enable scientists to determine the composition and mineralogy of the entire lunar surface.

“The M3 has the first substrate-removed MCT detector operating in space,” says James Beletic, director of Astronomy & Civil Space at Teledyne Imaging Sensors. “Substrate-removed MCT is opening a new era in space astronomy and planetary science. This new type of visible-infrared sensor will be used in many future NASA missions, including the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, and next-generation Earth observation satellites.”

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