Image of Spacecraft Landing on Mars Captured by Image Sensors

e2v CCD image sensors
e2v technologies plc
Elmsford, NY

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is currently on Mars using the probe’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) instrument to gather data on the planet’s climate, composition, and surface features. On May 25, 2008, e2v CCD image sensors incorporated into the HiRISE captured an image of NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander suspended from its parachute, as the lander successfully arrived on Mars. This is the first time a spacecraft has captured an image of another spacecraft landing on a planetary body. HiRISE normally points downwards, but the whole orbiter was tilted up in order to capture the image of the lander as it approached Mars.

ImageThe HiRISE Focal Plane Array (FPA) is populated with 14 high-performance, back-illuminated, time-delay (TDI) format, and custom CCDs, with high spatial resolution and high signalto- noise ratio. The binning functionality and four levels of TDI modes can be selected to optimize the performance of the FPA. The 14 CCD image sensors are linear TDI type with 2048 × 128 pixels, with a pixel size of 12μm × 12μm.

The CCD sensor includes a two-phase serial readout structure with two output amplifiers located at the center of the readout register. The parallel CCD register has a charge capacity of 200 Ke- and incorporates a four-phase architecture. A light shield ensures that incident photons only strike the photosensitive pixels on the sensor. Also included is a vertical injection structure that may be used to pre-flush the entire photoactive area or pre-fill select portions only. The CCD sensors operate in the back-illumination mode to yield high quantum efficiency over the 400 to 900-nm wavelength range.

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