CCD sensors study the sun onboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory

March 5, 2010
In February, six e2v CCD imaging sensors launched into space from Cape Canaveral, FL, onboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).

In February, six e2v (Chelmsford, UK) CCD imaging sensors launched into space from Cape Canaveral, FL, onboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), the first of NASA's Living With a Star (LWS) programs to launch. The programs have been designed to study and understand the causes of solar variability and the impact these have on Earth and Near-Earth space.

The SDO spacecraft has been designed to examine the evolution of solar activity and to refine understanding of space weather by studying the sun on small scales of space and time and in many wavelengths simultaneously. To do this, SDO has three scientific instruments on board: the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA), the EUV Variability Experiment (EVE), and the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI). e2v imaging sensors were supplied for the HMI and AIA instruments, which were both built by the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory (LMSAL).

SDO Spacecraft Credit: NASA (top)Four specially processed back-illuminated e2v CCD203-82 (4k × 4k pixel) sensors sensitive to extreme UV wavelengths are incorporated into the four AIA telescopes, which will observe the sun in the wavelength range 9.4–170 nm. The AIA instrument is under the direction of Alan Title, PhD, at LMSAL, and will use solar images taken in multiple wavelengths to study the energetics of the solar atmosphere and its interaction with the surface magnetic fields. Two front-illuminated e2v CCD203-82 (4k × 4k pixel) sensors are used in the HMI instrument to image the sun in visible light at 617 nm. The HMI instrument (built by LMSAL) is under the direction of professor Philip Scherrer at Stanford University, and will measure both solar surface magnetic fields and the sun's surface motion as a probe of the solar interior. The camera electronics were built in the UK by e2v's project partners at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. "The launch of SDO marks the third time in recent months that e2v sensors have contributed to US space programs, following Kepler and the Hubble upgrade," says Jon Kemp, general manager of space and defense imaging at e2v, noting that e2v's partnership with Lockheed Martin and Stanford University made the endeavor possible. -- Posted by Carrie Meadows, Vision Systems Design

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