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Sofradir delivers a record 24 IR detectors for ESA space mission

Large format shortwave detectors integrated into Sentinel-2 mission for land monitoring and food security studies

Sofradir, a French specialist in advanced infrared (IR) detectors for military, space and industrial applications, has announced that it has delivered 24 shortwave IR detectors (SWIR) to Airbus Defence and Space (ADS) for the European Space Agency (ESA) Sentinel-2 mission.

ADS provided two MultiSpectral Imager instruments (MSI) for the Sentinel-2 mission that offer high-resolution infrared optical imagery. They will provide high-resolution optical imaging to monitor the Earth and thereby provide continuity for the SPOT (an Earth observation system) and Landsat missions. The MSI will measure the Earth's reflected radiance in 13 spectral bands from the visible (440nm) to shortwave infrared (2190nm).

To meet the requirements of the space mission, 12 of Sofradir's SWIR detectors are on board the Sentinel-2A satellite that launched earlier today. The remaining 12 devices are assigned to the Sentinel 2B satellite, whose launch is planned for 2016.

Large format SWIR detectors (1200 x 3 effective lines, 15-micron pitch) are highly complex devices that only a handful of manufacturers in the world can produce to space-grade standards. Sofradir is the sole European manufacturer to have its IR detectors deployed in space.

"Sofradir's lengthening track record in space missions, the maturity of its technology and unfailing performance of its IR detectors in extreme conditions fulfill the criteria that space agencies and equipment makers seek from suppliers," said Philippe Chorier, the space department director at Sofradir. "We are proud to participate in this ESA space mission. It is an honor to provide our customers with reliable imaging technology in the pursuit of scientific knowledge concerning the Earth's vegetation and waterways."

Sofradir has pioneered developments in IR detectors based on Mercury Cadmium Telluride (MCT) to which Sofradir has added InSb, InGaAs and Quantum Well Infrared Photodetector (QWIP) technologies. 

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