The Mars Science Laboratory is a long-term robotic exploration to assess if Mars is, or ever has been, an environment that can support life. It will be the biggest, most capable robot to ever land on another planet. e2v imaging sensors equip both the rover’s Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument (CheMin) which was developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the Chemistry & Camera instrument (ChemCam) which was developed by the Los Alamos National Lab under an agreement with NASA’s JPL. CheMin will identify and measure the minerals on the planet using sophisticated x-ray detection techniques. The ChemCam instrument consists of a laser, which will be used to vaporise rock samples, and a camera which will then use Laser Induced Breakdown (LIB) spectroscopy to analyse the material produced.
CheMin uses the e2v CCD224, a specialised imaging sensor array optimised for the detection of x-rays in a space environment. This high performance imaging sensor is based upon technology originally implemented in the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton X-Ray observatory, where it has been operating successfully in the EPIC Instrument for the last 10 years. CheMin will expand the use of e2v’s x-ray imaging sensor technology to the Martian surface.
ChemCam uses the e2v CCD42-10 which is part of a standard range of imaging sensors used for various commercial and high performance applications including ground and space borne astronomy, and spectroscopy. The variant used in ChemCam was back-thinned to maximise sensitivity and coated with a custom graded anti-reflection coating to match the spectroscopic requirements of the mission.
|Mars Science Laboratory using laser instrument, artist's concept - courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech|