e2v has been awarded a contract to develop a new CCD imaging sensor for the European Space Agency (ESA) to go into the Euclid space science mission. The aim of the mission, through the Euclid visible channel instrument, is to map and survey the shapes of galaxies in order to investigate the geometry of the dark universe through weak gravitational lensing.
Measuring distortions caused by weak gravitational lensing requires extremely high image quality. e2v’s image sensors will form the visible focal plane array in the Euclid space telescope. The CCDs will be large area back-illuminated devices optimised for 550-920nm wavelengths. The devices will be manufactured for close-buttability to minimise dead area in the focal plane and reduce the telescope's size, mass and cost.
Once launched, the satellite will orbit the sun 1.5m kilometres beyond the earth for a period of five years. During that time the extra galactic sky will be surveyed, which is about half of the full sky.
The mission is in a competitive definition phase with two other ESA Cosmic Vision programmes: Solar Orbiter and Plato, for which e2v has also won a development contract. The two successful missions will be selected in June 2011 and will be carried forward into implementation leading to a launch in 2018.
e2v imaging marketing and applications manager, Jon Kemp said: 'e2v is excited to be developing this new high performance image sensor for ESA’s Euclid mission. If taken forward to the flight phase, information on the nature of dark matter and energy will accelerate the discovery of answers to many of today’s biggest scientific questions.'