CCD TH7888A imaging sensors
Chelmsford, Essex, UK
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Earlier this year, NASA’s MESSENGER became the first spacecraft to orbit the planet Mercury. The e2v Charge Coupled Device (CCD) imaging sensors equip the cameras onboard and captured unique new images of the planet.

This image of Mercury is the first ever obtained from a spacecraft in orbit about the planet. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington)
Launched in August 2004, NASA’s MESSENGER — designed, built, and operated by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, MD — is conducting the first orbital study of the planet Mercury. MESSENGER is only the second spacecraft to visit Mercury (after the Mariner 10 mission made several passes of the planet in 1974-75).

The CCD imaging sensors were used in MESSENGER’s Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS), which comprises a multi-spectral wide-angle camera and a monochrome narrow-angle camera. The cameras map the rugged landforms and spectral variations on Mercury’s surface in monochrome, color, and stereo. The instrument is equipped with a 1024x1024-pixel frame transfer sensor, allowing up to 30 images per second, with antiblooming functionality and a possibility of 2x2 binning operation. The sensors had previously collected more than 1,200 images during each of MESSENGER’s three flybys of the planet.

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NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the June, 2011 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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