Thursday, April 01, 2021

Mars Supercam and Its Super-Sensors

The French Space Agency (CNES) has reported the first images obtained on Mars using the Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) of the SuperCam instrument (the French contribution to NASA JPL PERSEVERANCE Rover) during the CNES Press Conference. The instrument provides high resolution (<70 µrad per pixel) color images for planetologists.

The image sensor used is a CMV4000 (4MP, with RGB color filters and microlenses) from AMS CMOSIS qualified by CNES. The French Space Agency started to work on the CMV image sensor family in 2011. Since then, CNES has demonstrated through radiation effect studies and intensive qualification work that using COTS sensors for space scientific missions can be reliable and cost-effective. Especially, the radiation hardness of pinned photodiode, Bayer color filter arrays, and per-pixel microlenses has been found to be compatible with Mars exploration mission requirements.

Cédric Virmontois is in charge of the RMI at CNES. For more than a decade, ISAE-SUPAERO / CNES PhD students have been participating in the fundamental study of radiation effects on CMOS image sensors.


  1. Very funny to note that also CMV4000 is on mars. So OnSemi and ams/Cmosis celebrate their products on mars while they come to an end on earth. Maybe we recall and and read the comments there.
    People involved in cameras using CMV4000 on earth maybe know what I am talking about. If not - try to buy a few CMV4000 today. The guys seem to be so focused on their mars mission (and kudos for this!) that they miss to plan the forecast for applications on earth, now fabs seem to be full and others seem to be preferred for the existing fab capacity. You have a problem today if you have sold machines with cameras using CMV4000 because it is currently de facto not available. This shortage has one mid term effect for ams/Cmosis: design out of CMV4000 cameras now happens earlier than planned.

    1. I have to admit, I had a bit a bad feeling about my posting - since the article was not about ams celebrating CMV on mars. But this has changed now: because actually ams does celebrate CMV4000 on mars!

      This is quite cool, when you compare it to the situation on earth. They take a product of the 2010s, dont invest anything in some successor generation, try to get money out of it for some years and when it reaches the phase where it gets designed out more and more, they run into a breathtaking shortage apparently by bad fab forecast/planning/commitment to slots (I would really like to know the story behind this). Be honest, CMV family is at its end. You will not get design wins in the 2020s, you will get some legacy business and thats it.

      And then, they celebrate that the sensors are on mars? Dear ams, what do you want to tell the world with this blog? Do you want someone to design in CMV4000 in 2021? really? Actually this add is even a bit provocative for someone like me at the moment. Currently, I spend my time searching for CMV4000 alternatives and trying to make the "solution" "a bit compatible" for the enduser (of qualified processes that have to run on different cameras now), and this happens under a bit some time pressure. And why? Because we do not get our CMV orders. So we cannot ship our products that contain cameras based on CMV. Dear ams, please put your energy into your production problems on earth before you start bragging about your legacy products on mars!


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