Biztech Aug 30, 2012
Analog Devices, Inc. (ADI), the maker of high-performance semiconductors for signal-processing applications, has announced that its converter technology is working inside Ball Aerospace’s High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera, as it has been for the past seven years, helping scientists obtain the most detailed pictures ever taken of Mars.
Ball Aerospace, a leader in the design, development, and manufacture of innovative aerospace systems, designed HiRISE, which is the largest and highest resolution camera ever sent beyond Earth’s orbit. It was launched into space in August 2005 via NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft whose mission is to search for evidence that water persisted on the surface of Mars for a long period of time.
In early August 2012, the Orbiter’s HiRISE camera, enabled by ADI’s converter technology, selected a site on Mars that was based on HiRISE images that showed the effects of liquid water on the planet. This site was chosen for the NASA Mars Rover Curiosity's parachute landing, as it descended to Mars, to search for past or present life, to study the Martian climate, Martian geology and collect data for a future manned mission to Mars.
The HiRISE project manager of the Boer Aerospace Thomas Ebben said, "ADI data converters far more than the demand for our core technology, the HiRISE camera can capture stunning HD Mars pictures to help us complete the historic mission."
The surface of Mars is about 4 x 7-mile strip of area image HiRISE able to capture nearly 800 megapixels resolution, providing unprecedented Mars geology and geomorphology. HiRISE’s ultra-powerful imaging capabilities allow it to image the Martian surface at up to five times the resolution of previously utilised cameras, yielding images that are 20,000 by 40,000 pixels. To date, the camera has recorded more than 21,000 images of the planet
“We are very proud that ADI’s high performance data converters are at the heart of the HiRISE camera and are helping advance the collective understanding of Mars,” said Somshubro Pal Choudhury, Managing Director, Analog Devices India. “The fact that the HiRISE camera and the Reconnaissance Orbiter are continuing to collect valuable images from Mars, far beyond the original mission timeline, is a testament to the reliability of the components used and demonstrates our engineering capabilities in the Aero-Space domain.”
Within the HiRISE image processing and memory module, 28 of ADI’s high performance 14-bit AD6645 analog-to-digital converters are utilised across an array of 14 charge-coupled devices (CCDs), which capture incoming light reflected off the planet’s surface. These CCDs convert detected light into voltage, which is subsequently routed to the AD6645s for high speed conversion into digital data. This data is transmitted from the spacecraft to Earth via the Deep Space Network, where it is radiometrically calibrated, organised into a mosaic image comprised of the 14 individual CCD image strips, calibrated to account for spacecraft-to-Mars distance and positioning, and, ultimately, geometrically mapped to planetary coordinates.
"Analog Devices’ data converters surpassed our core technical requirements and have helped to yield the stunning images of Mars that have defined HiRISE’s historic mission,” said Thomas Ebben, HiRISE project manager, Ball Aerospace.
Supporting a sampling frequency of up to 105 million samples per second (MSPS) and offering exceptional noise performance, the AD6645 satisfied Ball Aerospace’s demanding performance and signal-to-noise noise requirements. Additionally, Ball Aerospace conducted stringent temperature and vibration testing to ensure that the AD6645 was well suited for extreme environmental conditions brought on during spacecraft launch.
Today, the AD6645 remains an actively sought after part from ADI, and continues to be designed into a myriad of applications, including satellites.
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