Nov 16, 2011

Custom sensors support Earth-observation mission on climate change

Estimated Article Reading Time: 1 min.

Last month, imaging sensors from e2v (Chelmsford, UK) were launched into space onboard NASA’s new Earth observation satellite.

The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project (NPP) satellite is the first designed to collect data to improve short-term weather forecasts and increase understanding of long-term climate change.

To do so, the satellite carries five instruments that will capture data on the environment such as the ozone layer, land cover, atmospheric temperatures, and ice cover.

e2v imaging sensors have been used in the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. (Boulder, CO, USA) , a collection of three hyperspectral instruments that measure the ozone by collecting light from the sun that has been reflected off of the atmosphere.

Ozone molecules absorb particular frequencies of light and these absorption signatures are used to calculate the amount of ozone present over the entire globe. Ozone is an important molecule in the atmosphere because it partially blocks harmful ultraviolet light from the sun.

The e2v imaging sensors for the OMPS instrument are a custom design, using a proprietary back-illumination technology to optimize performance in the optical wavebands of interest.

— By Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design