Sofradir wins contract from Galileo Avionica for Italian space mission PRISMA

Sofradir’s largest Infrared detector, Saturn, will provide researchers with new data for environmental protection project.

Paris, France, January 19th, 2009 – Sofradir, a leading developer and manufacturer of advanced infrared detectors for military, space and industrial applications, announced today that it has signed a contract with Galileo Avionica (Italy), a worldwide supplier of space equipment and member of the Finmeccanica Group.

“Sofradir won this contract in an open and competitive bid, thereby confirming that our product offering for space applications is in a class above the rest,” said Philippe Bensussan, CEO at Sofradir. “This contract also gives us the opportunity to further extend the space qualification of our Mercury Telluride Cadmium technology to the visible spectrum.”

Sofradir will supply Galileo Avionica with Saturn, Sofradir’s 1000×256 30 micrometre pitch Short Wave InfraRed (SWIR) detectors. Galileo Avionica will use these in an Italian-led satellite program, PRISMA (Precursor Hyperspectral Mission Application). PRISMA is a system of earth observation instruments known as hyperspectral imagers. The PRISMA orbit will be sun-synchronous with a mean altitude of 700 Km at the equator.

Sofradir’s role in PRISMA is to scan portions of the earth and provide images from the visible to infrared. The hyperspectral information will substantially increase information about the chemical make-up of objects, a first for this environmental observation program. The data collected is expected to help researchers around the world address the quality and protection of the environment, sustainable development, and climate change.

Andrea Cisbani, PRISMA project manager at Galileo Avionica said: “We selected Sofradir because the company has shown that it is the most experienced, reliable and competitively priced European manufacturer for this kind of detector.” This contract cements a long-standing business relationship between Sofradir and Galileo Avionica that dates back 12 years.

Under the contract, Sofradir will develop a specific and hermetic package suited for passive cooling and will manufacture two types of detectors: Very Near IR (VNIR), sensitive from 0.4 to 1 micrometer and SWIR sensitive from 0.9 to 2.5 micrometers. The flight models will be delivered to Galileo Avionica in 2010.

Sofradir’s Saturn detector is a Mercury Cadmium Telluride (MCT/HgCdTe) array, a technology that offers the highest performance for IR object-identification. It has a length of 30mm, and the largest IR detector in Sofradir’s product range. The detector includes 256 lines of 1000 pixels at 30 micrometer pitch. A different gain can be applied to each line, making this detector especially adapted to spectroscopy and hyperspectral imaging. In addition, a complementary technological process allows it to extend the responsivity down to the visible spectrum.

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. Its detectors for SGLI/G-COM (Second Generation GLI/Global Change Observation Mission) and for GMES/Sentinel-2 are now in production.


Posted by Richard Stevenson on January 19, 2009


Author: EARSC

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