Image sensors from e2v aerospace and defense were chosen for the Michelson Interferometer for Global High-resolution Thermospheric Imaging (MIGHTI) instrument on NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite.
MIGHTI—an instrument built by the United States Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) —was designed to study the Earth’s thermosphere and is part of NASA’s ICON mission, which is being led by Dr. Thomas Immel at the University of California, Berkeley. ICON will fly a suite of instruments designed to determine the conditions in space modified by weather on the planet, according to theNRL.
Specifically, MIGHTI will be used to measure winds and temperatures in a portion of Earth’s thermosphere. Atmospheric gases in the thermosphere become charged and are heated to high temperatures by solar radiation, according toe2v. In particular, MIGHTI will investigate the movement of oxygen in the thermosphere (a portion of Earth’s atmosphere 50-200 miles high), in order to better understand the connection between Earth’s weather and space weather.
Adesign layout of a MIGHTI optical unit says that in the instrument, light enters through the baffle and is modulated by a temperature-stabilized interferometer. A cooled-CCD camera detects the fringe patterns to retrieve wind profiles and the multispectral band signals to retrieve the temperature profiles. The image sensors used in the CCD camera will be two 2,048 x 4,096 pixel CCD sensors from e2v. The sensors will be back-illuminated, coated with an anti-reflective coating to improve their sensitivity and operated in the frame transfer mode.
e2v has previously been involved in a number of aerospace-related projects, including:
- Hubble captures image of mysterious disintegrating asteroid
- NASA’s Kepler spacecraft discovers 715 new planets
- Gaia Telescope and its billion-pixel digital camera lift off
- NASA telescopes images of mystery region of the Sun
View more information on theICON mission.
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