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ABB and Nüvü to supply ‘exoplanet’ cameras to NASA

Posted on 20 Dec 2020 and read 954 times
ABB and Nüvü to supply ‘exoplanet’ cameras to NASAPhoto: NASA

The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, NASA’s future space observatory, is due to launch in 2025 in search of other earth-like worlds. It carries two instruments: one to study ‘the mystery of dark energy distribution in the cosmos’; and CGI (CoronaGraph Imager) — the first dedicated ‘exoplanet’ imaging camera in space (a exoplanet is a planet that orbits a star outside the solar system). Within the CGI will be two high-sensitivity cameras with electronic cores developed by ABB together with Nüvü.

Extra-solar planetary systems are extremely difficult to observe from large distances as planets are ‘tremendously dimmer’ than their neighbouring star and barely separated from one another. NASA’s CGI complex arrangement of optical components manages to block out the star light and send the residual light of the nearby planet to a highly sensitive camera. This is where the ABB/Nüvü imaging solution comes into play, revealing the unusual dot that was previously invisible.

Marc Corriveau, general manager of ABB Measurement & Analytics Canada, said: “The Roman mission is a $3.2 billion project that should be 100 to 1,000-times more powerful for imaging exoplanets than currently achieved on the ground today.

“We are very proud to be supplying such a critical component in this groundbreaking mission. It is an exciting project that will require our most advanced technological expertise to succeed.”

The ABB contract win follows a recent contract award from GHGSAT, a private satellite constellation operator, to supply additional optical sensors capable of imaging methane leaks on the ground in high definition.

Since 2003, ABB’s SCISAT sensor has tracked long-term composition changes down to parts per trillion of more than 60 molecules and pollutants in the earth’s atmosphere.

Moreover, weather agencies around the world base their predictions on ABB technology at the heart of the latest generation of polar satellites of the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

ABB sensors are also flying onboard the Japanese GOSAT 1 and 2 satellites, monitoring at high accuracy the steady rise of greenhouse gases around the world since 2009.