ESA spacecraft will use Sofradir sensors to inspect Venus

GRENOBLE, France, 5 Dec. 2005. Sofradir today announced that its industry-standard, high performance, 320x256 MW MCT infrared detector is being deployed in the SOIR (Solar Occultation InfraRed) instrument, one of three data channels being used in the imaging spectrometer to measure ultraviolet and infrared radiation on Venus Express.

GRENOBLE, France, 5 Dec. 2005. Sofradir today announced that its industry-standard, high performance, 320x256 MW MCT infrared detector is being deployed in the SOIR (Solar Occultation InfraRed) instrument, one of three data channels being used in the imaging spectrometer to measure ultraviolet and infrared radiation on Venus Express.

Launched in early November, Venus Express is the European Space Agency's first mission to Earth's nearest planetary neighbor to carry out more detailed study of Venus' atmosphere. Through Sofradir's MCT IR detector, SOIR will achieve more detailed observation of Venus's atmosphere at longer infrared wavelengths.

Venus Express is scheduled to reach Venus's orbit in April 2006.

Sofradir had a short timeframe of delivery for Venus Express. The company was given just nine months to have the MCT IR detector for the spectrometer ready. Sofradir succeeded in delivering it in six months.

"We took one of our standard mid-wave MCT IR detectors, reworked the cooler to be space-grade, and adapted the width of the spectral waveband to meet specifications," said Philippe Tribolet, vice president of research & development and technologies. "The speed with which we produced a space-deployable MCT IR detector clearly shows the inherent quality of our production-proven technology."

Venus Express is the latest in a lengthening line of space missions for Sofradir. "We are excited that Sofradir is participating in yet another space adventure," said Philippe Bensussan, CEO of Sofradir. "Our IR detectors are currently in operation on Helios IIA, the second-generation military surveillance program. This new space deployment gives further proof to the excellence of our products, and boosts confidence in the other space mission projects in which we are involved."

Pioneers of MCT second and third generation IR detectors, Sofradir has a vast product portfolio of scanning and staring arrays that cover the entire infrared spectrum using MCT (Mercury Cadmium Telluride), QWIP or microbolometer technology platforms.

Defense and security equipment manufacturers worldwide purchase Sofradir's high-grade IR detectors for application in thermal imagers, missile seekers, satellites, and other surveillance, targeting and homing infrared equipment. Sofradir's long- and mid-wave IR detectors have been deployed in battlefield equipment, such as the Storm Shadow/SCALP EG IR missile seeker, Damocles targeting and NAVFLIR navigation pods, Sophie hand held goggles, IRIS cameras and SADA II.

Sofradir's manufacturing facilities are located near Grenoble, France. Sofradir and Ulis employ 320 people.

Sofradir, founded in 1986, is one of a handful of companies around the world who produce infrared detectors. Ranked No. 2 for units delivered, the company has around 20 to 25 per cent of the world MCT second-generation detector market.

Together with its subsidiary Ulis (specialists in uncooled IR detectors), Sofradir is projecting revenues of US$90 million in 2005. Sofradir directly exports more than 50 per cent of its products. Customers include the U.S. Army, Thales, Sagem, BAE Systems, Alcatel Space and the ESA (European Space Agency). For more information, see www.sofradir.com.

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