The thermal infrared sensor (TIRS) is a quantum well infrared photodetector (QWIP)-based instrument intended to supplement the Operational Land Imager (OLI) for the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM). The TIRS instrument is a far-infrared imager operating in the pushbroom mode with two IR channels: 10.8 and 12 μm. The focal plane will contain three 640×512 QWIP arrays mounted onto a silicon substrate. The readout integrated circuit (ROIC) addresses each pixel on the QWIP arrays and reads out the pixel value (signal). The ROIC is controlled by the focal plane electronics (FPE) by means of clock signals and bias voltage value. The means of how the FPE is designed to control and interact with the TIRS focal plane assembly (FPA) is the basis for this work.

The technology developed under the FPE is for the TIRS focal plane assembly (FPA). The FPE must interact with the FPA to command and control the FPA, extract analog signals from the FPA, and then convert the analog signals to digital format and send them via a serial link (USB) to a computer. The FPE accomplishes the described functions by converting electrical power from generic power supplies to the required bias power that is needed by the FPA. The FPE also generates digital clocking signals and shifts the typical transistor-to-transistor logic (TTL) to ±5 V required by the FPA. The FPE also uses an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) named System Image, Digitizing, Enhancing, Controlling, And Retrieving (SIDECAR) from Teledyne Corp. to generate the clocking patterns commanded by the user. The uniqueness of the FPE for TIRS lies in that the TIRS FPA has three QWIP detector arrays, and all three detector arrays must be in synchronization while in operation. This is to avoid data skewing while observing Earth flying in space. The observing scenario may be customized by uploading new control software to the SIDECAR.

This work was done by Peter Shu, Augustyn Waczynski, and Emily Kan of Goddard Space Flight Center; Yiting Wen of MEI, Inc.; and Robert Rosenberry of Qinetiq, Inc. GSC-16057-1

Photonics Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the May, 2012 issue of Photonics Tech Briefs Magazine.

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