e2v has won a major contract with Airbus DS GmbH to design, develop and supply bespoke Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) image sensors for the advanced METimage radiometers that will be integrated in a series of three European Space Agency’s Meteorological Operational (MetOp) second generation weather satellites.

The primary objective of the METimage instruments is to provide imagery data in extended spectral ranges that allow new environmental measurements to be collected on the Earth’s atmosphere. Critical information on cloud formation, sea-surface temperature and winds, air quality and temperature will enable scientists to improve the accuracy of meteorological and climate forecasting to protect life on Earth.

METimage will scan large image strips of the Earth orthogonally to the flight direction with a ground resolution of 500 m. Image quality will be reached through internal calibration and data accuracy will be ensured by e2v’s highly innovative, front-illuminated 4T pixel CMOS linear devices for use in the instruments’ Visible and Near-infrared (VISNIR) focal plane, as well as by its readout electronics.

The application demands a high signal-to-noise ratio in order to capture the precise brightness of the images in a particular wavelength, whilst image scanning at regular intervals along Earth’s curvature demands the large pixel design. e2v will supply a novel fully radiation hardened design with 250 µm x 250 µm pixel and improved sensitivity at longer wavelengths.

Leveraging 30 years’ experience in bespoke sensors for space missions, e2v will also provide a package composed of a fully customised electrical interface and mechanical housing for the device, which will feature a specially integrated sensor for temperature monitoring.

Manfred Lieke, Head of Optical Instruments at Airbus DS GmbH, said, “METimage is the core meteorological instrument for the MetOp second generation satellites with demanding performance requirements and a very challenging development schedule. For the supply of the VISNIR detectors we have selected e2v with its CMOS heritage already demonstrated in the frame of several space programmes. e2v is also developing VISNIR detectors for two of our other instrument projects, Sentinel-4 and Sentinel-5.”

e2v’s key account manager Jean Francois Bruyeres, said, “We’re delighted to partner with Airbus DS GmbH on this exciting project, which allows us to demonstrate how we can apply our expertise in space imaging technology to this important Earth observation programme.”

The satellites will be launched in 2021, 2028 and 2035 and will be operated by EUMETSAT. The instruments have been developed by the German Aerospace Center – DLR, with funding by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure in cooperation with EUMETSAT.