e2v, the leading global provider of high performance imaging solutions, has signed a multi-million dollar contract for a 2 year programme to supply the complete camera system for the Javalambre Physics-of-the-Accelerating-Universe Astrophysical Survey (J-PAS) project. This is a unique 5 year survey of the northern sky to be performed on the Observatorio Astrofísico de Javalambre’s new wide-field 2.5m telescope.
Funded by a consortium of Spanish and Brazilian astronomy institutes, J-PAS will be dedicated to creating a map of the observable Universe in 56 continuous wavebands from 350nm to 1000nm. The e2v cryogenic camera system has a 1.2 gigapixel mosaic array capable of being read out in 10 seconds, and produces high fidelity images resulting in effectively low-resolution spectra over the whole area of the survey. The prime purpose of the instrument is to explore dark energy through measuring galaxy distribution in three dimensions. The exceptional sensitivity, low noise and fast readout rates offered by the J-PAS camera system make it very efficient for this astronomical survey, supplying an immense amount of astrophysical information, not just in cosmology but in all areas of astronomy, from asteroids to clusters of galaxies.
The gigapixel camera for J-PAS, which will be designed and built by e2v, will use 14 newly developed e2v CCD290-99 high performance imaging sensors and includes a guarantee of the camera’s performance levels and a commercial warranty. The 85 megapixel devices will be back-thinned and given a multi-layer, anti-reflection coating for maximum sensitivity. They are a 9k x 9k pixel format, with multiple outputs for rapid readout times, and are mounted in a precision package to allow them to be assembled into a mosaic, providing an image area that is nearly 0.5m in diameter. The focal plane assembly will also include the telescope guide and wavefront sensors. The whole focal plane will then be contained in a custom cryogenic camera, with vacuum and cooling components and integrated electronics which will provide state-of-the-art low noise for maximum sensitivity. e2v is working with RAL Space to provide the electronics.
Professor Mariano Moles, J-PAS Collaboration Board Chair and Director of the Centro de Estudios de Física del Cosmos de Aragón said “J-PAS is a 10,000 square degree survey whose main goal is trying to solve the mystery of dark energy by measuring tiny modulations in the distribution of galaxies. It will obtain low resolution spectral information from every pixel, something akin to observing the whole northern sky through a gigantic prism. This enormously rich dataset, which will include hundreds of millions of galaxies, and millions of stars and quasars, will have enormous value for most areas of astrophysics, from cosmology to solar system studies, including galaxy evolution and stellar physics. This project, one of the most ambitious surveys attempted to date, involves close to 100 scientists from different countries and research centres”.
Jon Kemp, marketing manager for high performance imaging solutions at e2v said “This is a landmark contract for e2v, as it demonstrates our capability to provide integrated imaging systems including electronics, focal plane array and cooling, along with sensor technology that has enabled the world’s astronomical observatories for many years”.
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NOTES FOR EDITORS
e2v is a leading global provider of specialist technology for high performance systems and equipment; delivering solutions, sub-systems and components for specialist applications within medical & science, aerospace & defence, and commercial & industrial markets. e2v has its headquarters in the UK, employs approximately 1500 people, has design and production facilities across Europe and North America, and has a global network of sales and technical support offices. For the year ended 31 March 2011, e2v reported sales of £229m and is listed on the London Stock Exchange. For more information visit e2v.com.
RAL Space at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) is part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council and provides world-leading research and technology development, space test facilities, instrument and mission design, and studies of science and technology requirements for new missions. Working alongside the UK Space Agency (UKSA) who co-ordinate UK civil space activities.
RAL Space has a staff of 200 who are dedicated to supporting the programmes of the Council and those of the other research councils; as well as undertaking a large number of contracts for agencies, industry and other commercial customers.