Sensors for applications in space
Fraunhofer IMS develops special space detectors that are designed especially for applications in space. Currently, two applications areas are offered:
Special space detectors, for example CMOS-CCD in TDI operation, are designed for earth observation from the orbit. The focus is on detectors in the focal plane of “small” high-resolution, multispectral optical satellites. These are applied in the following applications:
- Scanning of urban areas for the generation of current image material from densely populated areas. This material is used especially for city planning.
- A spontaneous and fast reaction to worldwide crises, for example natural disasters or war/crisis zones is becoming increasingly important. To assess the situation in those areas in a fast and competent way, high resolution images of the defined target areas are needed.
- For reconnaissance missions a multispectral distinction of objects is of great interest. Especially the wavelength range in the blue to ultraviolet part of the spectrum is important for monitoring of the oceans. This can be increased by backside illumination.
At Fraunhofer IMS an in-house developed CMOS process is used for earth observation application which allows for manufacture of CMOS-CCDs with a high dynamic range that can be used in TDI operation.
Another application area is targeting the navigation in space. Unmanned aerial vehicles, like satellites, drones or roboters have to be able to navigate autonomously. And tasks like docking maneuvers to space stations and satellites have to be carried out as well. Also sensors are to be used for the detection of unwanted satellites, like parts of satellites or comet residue that orbit around the earth, and the disposal can be carried out efficiently into the earth atmosphere. For these applications high-precision 3D space detectors and robust algorithms are needed to realize a miilimeter precision navigation. For this purpose Fraunhofer IMS has developed special LiDAR sensors on the basis of CMOS SPADs that can rise to the challenge.
For the development of Fraunhofer IMS space detectors, process modules are used that are, with the exception of active optical elements, resistant to radiation and therefore able to withstand the cosmic radiation of space.