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Sofradir announces megapixel IR detector for space


Detector selected for the SENTINEL-5 Earth observation mission 

Sofradir, the French developer of advanced IR detectors, has launched the Next Generation Panchromatic detector (NGP), a 1024x1024 visible to short wavelength infrared (SWIR) Focal Plane Assembly.

According to the company, NGP is the first European-made space-oriented megapixel array that space agencies can  consider for deep space science (planets and asteroids studies), Earth observation and Earth monitoring (meteorology, global warming studies, agriculture surveillance,...) applications.

Sofradir developed the large format NGP, which is based on mercury cadmium telluride (HgCdTe) technology, as part of an R&D contract with the European Space Agency (ESA). NGP's 1k x 1k format is four times larger than existing Sofradir SATURN starring array IR product currently deployed on observation satellites or spacecraft.

The NGP detector has already been selected this year for the SENTINEL-5 mission planned for launch by 2021 on-board METOP-SG satellite in order to monitor the Earth atmosphere from a polar orbit.

"Sofradir is extremely proud to make the large format NGP 1024x1024 visible to SWIR detector available to our customers focusing on space applications," said Philippe Chorier, space department manager at Sofradir.

"NGP 1k2 attests to Sofradir's increasing technological leadership in producing reliable and high performance IR products for space applications. The product's ready-to-deploy feature responds to demands to shorten space mission delivery times or to minimize the risks in delays. Based on its added performance and time saving benefits, we anticipate a lot of interest in NGP 1k2 in future space missions".

Sofradir in space

Infrared detectors from Sofradir are currently on-board Helios II (Earth observation) and Spirale (early warning system) military satellites, as well as the Venus Express scientific probe (SPICAV / SOIR instrument - Spectrometry for Investigation of Characteristics of the Atmosphere of Venus / Solar Occultation IR-). 

Its IR products were also to be deployed in space instruments on Sentinel 2, part of the European GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) space initiative, on the TROPOMI/Sentinel 5 Precursor (part of the GMES), the hyperspectral Earth observation systems PRISMA (Italy) and HYSUI (Japan), as well as on scientific instruments such as Phobos Grunt and Nomad (ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter).

Other programs in progress include: MUSIS/CSO (successor of HELIOS II), MTG (Meteosat Third Generation, ESA), and SGLI (Second generation GLobal Imager) instrument onboard GCOM-C (Global Change Observing Mission -Climate), HAYABUSA2 (asteroid study) or CHANDRAYAAN-2 (lunar surface mapping).

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