JUNE 21--e2v technologies (Chelmsford, UK; imaging.e2vtechnologies.com) CCD image sensors have recently captured their first scientific images onboard the European Space Agency (ESA; www.esa.int) Rosetta mission. Incorporated into the mission's OSIRIS (Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System) science camera, the CCDs have provided exciting high-resolution pictures of Comet Linear. Visitors to the SPIE Astronomical Telescope & Instrumentation Exhibition in Glasgow, Scotland (22-24 June 2004) can view samples of e2v CCDs used in space programs, including Rosetta.
Rosetta is a decade-long, comet-chasing mission with final target destination of Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. During its early commissioning stage, the opportunity arose to observe and image another comet en route--Comet C/2002 T7 (Linear)--from a distance of circa 95 million km. So detailed are the blue-light images recently provided by the e2v CCDs in OSIRIS that the comet's nucleus and a section of its characteristic tail can be clearly identified.
Images obtained from this observation pave the way for future scientific activities that Rosetta will undertake on its 10-year journey. ESA commented: "This first check-out worked flawlessly and showed that the spacecraft and all instruments are functioning well and in excellent shape."
e2v provides specialized imaging technology to the space sector and supplies standard and custom imaging devices for major space and astronomical research programs. The company has previously delivered image sensors to guaranteed specifications and time scales for use on the Hubble space telescope, the MOST optical space telescope, NASA's Kepler telescope, XMM-Newton's x-ray telescope, and the world's largest CCD mosaic on Megacam, the wide-field camera mounted on the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope.