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Following its launch on 25 October, NASA's STEREO mission will count on image sensors from e2v to capture detailed pictures of the Sun. The mission will use two simultaneously orbiting spacecraft to study the Sun in a three-dimensional manner, with the resulting 3D snaps used to help predict when space weather events will affect the Earth.
STEREO is NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, which forms part of the Solar Terrestrial Probes program. It will examine the Earth/Sun relationship from a side viewpoint with two almost identical satellites. While one spacecraft will fly ahead of the Earth in its orbit around the Sun, the second will lag behind. In this way, the stream of energy and matter approaching the Earth from the Sun will be studied in a three-dimensional manner.
For the mission, e2v designed and supplied 12 flight model charge coupled device (CCD) image sensors and eight engineering models. Ten of the flight models will actually fly with STEREO, five CCDs in each spacecraft. The e2v devices are astronomical CCD42-40s, back-illuminated for high sensitivity, and mounted in a custom package to improve alignment, flatness and thermal control in the instrument. Some of the devices were optimized for the extreme ultraviolet; others were optimized for red light.
The e2v sensors will support the study of solar mass ejections in STEREO, in order to provide a much fuller picture of the three-dimensional aspects of these phenomena. STEREO will examine what causes coronal mass ejections (solar system explosions) and how they interact with the Earth through their influence on space weather.