AUGUST 16--NASA's new Mars probe, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, was successfully launched on Friday 12 August. The 2-ton orbiter will gather data on Mars' climate, composition, and surface features. Image sensors from e2v technologies (Elmsford, NY; www.e2v.com) will capture images from the probe's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) telescopic camera, looking in particular for clues on the planet's water and ice history.
The HiRISE flying on the Mars Orbiter marries very high resolution and signal-to-noise ratio with a large swath width. This will enable the e2v image sensors, incorporated into the HiRISE camera, to capture images of unprecedented resolution of selected swaths of the planet's surface, at scales down to 1 m. Dubbed "The People's Camera," HiRISE encourages the general public to become involved with identifying targets for imaging and data analysis.
e2v has supplied a total of 50 CCD image sensors to Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. for the Mars probe, 25 of which were flight models. Ball Aerospace arranged the 2048 x 128 x 12-μm pixel time-delay-integrated back-illuminated devices to form a long imager and to generate the high swath width required. The sensors will provide scientists with images of unparalleled resolution and volume from an orbiting spacecraft.