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7 November 2008

e2v image sensors capture first ever image of spacecraft landing on Mars

Image Courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

On 25th May 2008, e2v Charge Couple Device (CCD) image sensors on board NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), captured an image of NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander suspended from its parachute as the lander successfully arrived on Mars.  This is the first time ever that a spacecraft has captured an image of another spacecraft landing on a planetary body.

MRO is currently on Mars gathering data on the planet’s climate, composition, and surface features: with exceptional images captured by the probe’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) instrument.  e2v CCD image sensors are incorporated into HiRISE and it is this instrument which captured the images of the Phoenix Mars Lander.  HiRISE normally points downwards, but the whole orbiter was tilted up in order to capture the image of the lander as it approached Mars.

The HiRISE FPA (Focal Plane Array) is populated with 14 high performance, back-illuminated, time delay (TDI) format, custom CCDs, with high spatial resolution and high signal to noise ratio.  The binning functionality and four levels of TDI modes can be selected to optimise the performance of the FPA.

Each of the 14 CCD image sensors are linear TDI type with 2048 x 128 pixels. The pixel size is 12µmx12µm. The CCD sensor includes a two-phase serial readout structure with two output amplifiers located at the center of the readout register. The parallel CCD register incorporates a four-phase architecture. Charge capacity of the parallel register is 200 Ke.

A light shield is incorporated to ensure that incident photons strike only the photosensitive pixels on the sensor.  A vertical injection structure is also included and may be used to pre-flush the entire photoactive area or pre-fill select portions only.

The CCD sensors operate in the back-illumination mode to yield high quantum efficiency over the 400 to 900nm wavelengh range.

Brian McAllister, General Manager of Space & Scientific Imaging at e2v said “We are very proud that e2v technology is accelerating discovery and enabling NASA to make space history by capturing this image.”

Jessica Broom           Tel: + 44 (0) 1 245 453 607


e2v technologies plc

e2v technologies is a leading designer, developer and manufacturer of specialised components and subsystems, falling within two product groups:

  • Electronic tubes
  • Sensors and Semiconductors

These products enable some of the world’s leading OEMs to deliver innovative systems for medical and science, aerospace and defence, and commercial and industrial applications.

For the year ended 31 March 2008, e2v achieved sales of £205m and is listed on the London Stock Exchange (e2v.l).  In July 2006 e2v technologies plc acquired a leading designer, manufacturer and distributor of specialised electronic components and sub-systems, based in Grenoble, France and in May of 2007 e2v plc acquired MiCS Microchemical Systems SA a designer and manufacturer of semiconductor based gas sensors.  These acquisitions strengthen the Group’s position as a major global provider of specialised electronic components and subsystems.

e2v’s products are supplied into three core market areas:

  • Medical & Science: Sensor technology includes imaging sensors for intra-oral and panoramic dental X-ray, mammography, life science applications and X-ray microscopy. Electronic tubes are the enabling technology behind radiotherapy cancer treatments, microwave medical therapy and high-energy physics.
  • Aerospace & Defence: Sensor technology includes products for military surveillance, targeting and guidance, space-based imaging and astronomy, radar, electronic warfare, and broadband data converters and microprocessors for aerospace applications.  Electronic tubes provide the enabling technology behind radars, electronic countermeasures (ECM), electronic warfare and satellite communications.
  • Commercial & Industrial: Sensor technology includes marine radars, industrial safety sensors, automotive radars and alarms, thermal imaging cameras used by fire fighters, CCD and CMOS high resolution line scan cameras for industrial inspection. Electronic tubes provide enabling technology behind TV broadcast, satellite communications, marine radar and food & industrial processing.

The overall purpose of the business is to grow sustainable shareholder value whilst appropriately meeting the expectations of customers, people, partners, suppliers and the wider community.  e2v’s vision is to create value through bright ideas in technology and materials science. The Company’s mission is to place customers at the heart of the business, providing enabling products of premium quality that extend technical barriers and enhance the competitive position of our partners.

e2v has approximately 1,800 employees worldwide with three UK based manufacturing sites in Chelmsford, Lincoln and High Wycombe, one in Grenoble, France and one in Corcelles, Switzerland.  In addition e2v has sales offices in the UK, USA, Germany, France and Hong Kong, as well as a network of distributors and representatives covering other key territories.

Further information on e2v technologies plc is available from its website,