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16 February 2016

e2v lifts-off with image sensors on board ESA Sentinel-3A mission

The third Sentinel satellite in the European Space Agencyâ€s (ESA) Copernicus programme, its flagship Earth observation study, is today launched into space equipped with advanced charge-coupled device (CCD) image sensors from e2v.

Sentinel-3Aâ€s mission objective is to measure Earthâ€s land and sea surface temperature, topography and colour with high-end accuracy and reliability to support ocean forecasting and environmental and climate monitoring systems.

The space-bound e2v device, the CCD55-20, is a high-performance, back-illuminated frame transfer CCD image sensor optimised for hyperspectral imaging. The device is used in the Ocean and Land Colour Instrument (OLCI) with 21 bands tuned to specific ocean colour, vegetation and atmospheric correction measurement requirements. It has a spatial resolution of 300m for all measurements and a swath width of 1270km. The optimised CCD includes the use of a ‘gated dump drain†allowing the readout of selected image lines and the dumping of unwanted data. It also includes the use of graded thickness anti-reflection coating to minimise sun-glint, giving the minimum possible reflection from the silicon surface for all targeted wavelengths.

As part of a suite of state-of-the-art instruments on Sentinel-3A, e2v sensors will provide OLCIâ€s new eyes on Earth which will allow ocean ecosystems to be monitored, support crop management and agriculture and provide estimates of atmospheric aerosol and clouds – all of which bring significant benefits to society though more informed decision making. The multi-talented satellite will also monitor seawater quality and pollution, map the topography and extent of ice, and monitor the height of lake and river water. Over land, uses include detecting fires and mapping.

Paul Jerram, Chief Engineer at e2v, said, “We have worked closely with ESA over many years to develop high-reliability, high-performance imaging devices specifically designed to capture ground breaking scientific data for a range of space programmes. As a key partner in the Sentinel missions, we are proud to play a crucial role in gathering the scientific data that will ultimately help to protect life on Earth.”

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