Sofradir wins contract for the European GMES Sentinel-2 space mission

Sofradir will supply a new three-band Short Wave Infrared Red detector aimed at more accurate mapping of the Earth’s environment

Veurey-Voroize, France, November 12th, 2008 – Sofradir, a leading developer and manufacturer of advanced infrared detectors for military, space and industrial applications, announced today that it has signed a EUR 6.7 million (approx. USD 10 million) contract with Astrium SAS, a worldwide supplier of satellites and space equipment.

Sofradir will supply a custom-made three-band Short Wave Infrared (SWIR) Detector for the Multi-Spectral Instrument (MSI), an earth observation instrument onboard the Sentinel-2 satellite. The detector will be used to offer more discrimination of trees, crops, and other environmental elements, including the density of humid air. It is designed and screened to function for the in-orbit lifetime for each of the two Sentinel-2 satellites. Each will run for just over 7 years.

“The reliability of Sofradir’s technology for 15 micron pixel pitch detectors and our experience in space project management were the crucial factors in Astrium’s decision to choose Sofradir from among other European suppliers,” said Philippe Bensussan, CEO at Sofradir. “In addition to confirming yet again Sofradir’s position among the leaders in the field of IR detectors, this contract allows us to strengthen our engagement in a high priority issue, global environment monitoring.”

Under the contract, Sofradir will develop and manufacture a three-band SWIR detector from 1.3 to 2.3 micrometer wavelengths for multi-spectral analysis that will be delivered to Astrium SAS in 2010. The contract is being funded by the European Union and the European Space Agency (ESA).

The three-band SWIR detector uses Sofradir’s Mercury Cadmium Telluride (MCT/HgCdTe) focal plane array, a technology which is space qualified and that offers the highest performance for IR object-identification. The detector includes three linear arrays of 1298 pixels at 15 micron pitch. Each array is sensitive to one waveband that is centered on 1.4, 1.6 and 2.2 microns, respectively. Since the arrays are hybridized on the same readout circuit, this results in very accurate relative positioning. In other words, all three arrays will scan the same object using the same pixel.

Sofradir is involved in a growing number of satellite and space missions, covering applications such as earth mapping, environment and disaster monitoring, and planet exploration. Sofradir’s MCT IR detectors are in orbit in the Helios II and Venus Express satellites and will soon be deployed in the SPIRALE satellite. Its detectors for SGLI/G-COM (Second Generation GLI/Global Change Observation Mission) are now ready for flight model production.


Author: EARSC

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