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Orbital Sciences Receives Thermal Infrared Sensor Developed for Landsat Satellite

NASA has announced that the latest NASA satellite instrument featuring infrared detector technology has arrived at Orbital Sciences’ Gilbert facility located in Arizona. The Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) will be integrated into a Landsat satellite, part of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission for the collection of high resolution imagery and data of the surface of the planet.

TheThermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) have been developed by a team of engineers at the Goddard Space Flight Center located in Greenbelt to measure the Earth's temperature by applying quantum physics.The development of the sensor was completed within 43 months, on an accelerated schedule.

The project scientist for the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, James Irons stated that the achievement was achieved by the round-the-clock dedication of the TIRS engineering team and state-of-the-art detector arrays. Irons also added that the detector technology will be used for the first time in space through its integration in the TIRS.

Quantum Well Infrared Photodetectors (QWIPs)are used in the detection of long wavelengths of light, called thermal infrared wavelengths that are emitted by the Earth with an intensity that is proportional to the surface temperature. Since these thermal IR wavelengths cannot be detected by human vision, QWIPs operates on quantum mechanism and is a low-cost solution designed as an alternative to traditional IR technology.

The Landsat Data Continuity Mission, the eight of the Landsat series satellites,will be launched from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base in January 2013. Along with the TIRS, the satellite will also feature the Operational Land Imager, an imaging sensor developed by Ball Aerospace & Technologies. The Landsat is jointly managed by the US Department of Interior (DOI) and NASA.

Source: http://www.nasa.gov

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