Fairchild Imaging CCD on NASA’s Deep Impact Mission Provides Stunning Imagery of the Comet Tempel 1

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High performance back illuminated CCD image sensors from Fairchild Imaging have captured exciting new data on the composition of comets. These highly sensitive CCDs on board the NASA Deep Impact spacecraft were used to capture all of the the visible imagery from the mission's probe into the comet Tempel 1.

At approximately 10:52 p.m., PST the comet Tempel 1 slammed into the impactor of the NASA Deep Impact Program providing a spectacular bright flash of light. The collision, which occurred 83 million miles from Earth, marks the first time a spacecraft has come in contact with a comet. It’s mission: to determine the structure and composition of the comet.

The Deep Impact spacecraft was composed of two probes mated together – the "fly-by" and "impactor."

Aboard both the fly-by and impactor were Fairchild Imaging CCDs recording all the visible imagery for the mission. These custom CCD’s reside on the fly-by’s medium-resolution and high-resolution cameras as well as the impactor’s targeting sensor instrument.

The CCD image sensors supplied for the mission were custom designed 1024 x 1024, 21um pixel, split frame transfer devices. The CCD, often referred to as a Focal Plane Array (FPA), provides excellent imagery in low light level environments. Fairchild Imaging back illuminated thinning technology enabled these FPAs to provide superior quantum efficiency (QE) and sensitivity across the entire visible light spectrum. In addition to superb image quality these FPAs also required space qualification. To be space qualified the FPA must have special packaging and testing to ensure that it will survive the harsh environs of space. Detailed CCD information can be found at: http://www.fairchildimaging.com/main/ccd_custom_424.htm

The University of Maryland is responsible for overall Deep Impact mission science, and project management is handled by JPL. The spacecraft was built for NASA by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation, Boulder, Colo.

To learn more about the Deep Impact mission please refer to: http://deepimpact.jpl.nasa.gov

For additional information, contact Brad Ostman at Fairchild Imaging, 1801 McCarthy Blvd., Milpitas, CA 95035, 408-433-2552

About Fairchild Imaging

Fairchild Imaging is a manufacturer of CCD and CMOS image sensors and cameras for aerospace, industrial, medical and scientific imaging. Located in Milpitas, CA, Fairchild Imaging is a privately held corporation whose major investors include The Carlyle Group, BAE Systems, and management. Information about Fairchild Imaging is available on the worldwide Web at http://www.fairchildimaging.com.


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Brad Ostman
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