Operating in stereo: e2v image sensors help NASA snap 3D pictures of the sun

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., 25 Oct. 2006. Due for launch tonight, NASA's STEREO mission will count on image sensors from e2v Technologies in Chelmsford, England, to capture detailed pictures of the sun.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., 25 Oct. 2006. Due for launch tonight, NASA's STEREO mission will count on image sensors from e2v Technologies in Chelmsford, England, to capture detailed pictures of the sun.

The mission will use two simultaneously orbiting spacecraft to study the sun in three dimensions, resulting in 3D images to provide a view of the sun-Earth relationship from sideways on, and will also help to predict when space weather events will affect the Earth, company officials say.

NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) forms part of the Solar Terrestrial Probes program, and will examine the Earth-sun relationship from a side viewpoint with two almost identical satellites.

While one spacecraft will fly ahead of the Earth in its orbit around the sun, the second spacecraft will lag behind. In this way, the stream of energy and matter approaching the Earth from the sun will be studied in 3D.

The e2v-designed and supplied 12 flight model charge coupled device (CCD) image sensors and eight engineering models for STEREO.

Ten of the flight models will actually fly with STEREO, five CCDs in each spacecraft. The e2v devices are astronomical CCD42-40s, back-illuminated for high sensitivity, and mounted in a custom package to improve alignment, flatness and thermal control in the instrument. Some of the devices were optimized for the extreme ultraviolet; others were optimized for red light.

The e2v sensors will support the study of solar mass ejections in stereo to provide a full picture of the three dimensional aspects of these phenomena. STEREO will examine what causes coronal mass ejections (solar system explosions) and how they interact with the Earth through their influence on space weather.

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

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