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30 March 2011

e2v imaging sensors onboard NASA’s MESSENGER capture new images of Mercury, as it becomes the first spacecraft to orbit the planet

On March 18, 2011, NASA’s MESSENGER became the first spacecraft to orbit the planet Mercury. The e2v Charge Coupled Device (CCD) imaging sensors equip the cameras onboard and captured unique new images of the planet.

Launched in August 2004, NASA’s MESSENGER – designed, built and operated by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, USA – is conducting the first orbital study of the planet Mercury, the smallest, densest and least explored of the planets. MESSENGER is only the second spacecraft to visit Mercury (after the Mariner 10 mission made several passes of the planet in 1974-75). Learning about Mercury is crucial for scientists to understand more about the planets in our solar system and how they have formed and evolved.

e2v supplied the CCD imaging sensors used in MESSENGER’s Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS), which comprises a multispectral wide-angle camera and a monochrome narrow-angle camera. The cameras map the rugged landforms and spectral variations on Mercury’s surface in monochrome, colour and stereo. The instrument is equipped with e2v CCD TH7888A, a 1024 x 1024 pixel frame transfer sensor, allowing up to 30 images per second, with antiblooming functionality and a possibility of 2×2 binning operation. These e2v imaging sensors had previously collected more than 1,200 images during each of MESSENGER’s three flybys of the planet.

e2v’s Marketing and Applications Manager, Bertrand De Monte, said “e2v is proud to be a part of NASA’s MESSENGER mission. This is another example of our imaging expertise providing leading levels of product performance and contributing to the pushing forward of boundaries, in this case a greater understanding of the planet Mercury.”



This is the first ever image of Mercury.
It was supplied by NASA at 5:20 am EDT on March 29th 2011.


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


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