Sofradir to provide SWIR arrays for satellite mission

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Sofradir, a manufacturer of advanced infrared detectors, has been awarded a contract to provide shortwave infrared (SWIR) arrays for the Tropomi/S5 – (Sentinel 5 Precursor) mission, as part of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) space initiative. GMES is a joint undertaking of the European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA).

The Sentinel-5-Precursor mission, scheduled for launch in 2014, is intended to fill a time gap between Envisat, an earlier generation of earth observation satellites for climate and environment monitoring, and Sentinel 5, which will be on-board the Post-EPS satellite scheduled for launch around 2019.

Under the contract, Sofradir will deliver to SSTL (UK), a worldwide supplier of satellite and space equipment, off-the-shelf 1,000 x 256 SWIR arrays, based on its Mercury Cadmium Telluride (MCT/HgCdTe) technology.

An SWIR focal plane array (FPA) with hermetic package without cooling system was selected because it offered some major advantages in reliability and power consumption. Unlike an active cooler that has moving mechanical parts that can shorten the overall life of the detector, passive cooling significantly increases reliability as it is dependent on the FPA only.