Sofradir detector en route for stardust quest onboard HAYABUSA-2 space mission

An infrared detector by Sofradir has been launched into space this Wednesday December 3rd, as the eye of the MicrOmega hyperspectral microscope carried by the HAYABUSA-2 probe, to study the surface compounds of “1999 JU3” asteroid.

Palaiseau (near Paris), France – December 08, 2014 –
Sofradir, a leading developer of key classes of advanced infrared detectors for military, space and industrial applications, is proud to be part of the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) space mission HAYABUSA-2 which has been successfully launched this Wednesday December 3rd from Tanegashima space center by a Japanese rocket. HAYABUSA-2 probe will reach mid-2018 the asteroid “1999 JU3”, and will drop the MASCOT lander on the asteroid surface for in-situ analysis thanks to MicrOmega instrument. The mission will end in 2020 with precious asteroid ground samples being retrieved to Earth.

Sofradir’s NEPTUNE detector is implemented into the MicrOmega IR microscope developed by IAS (Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale at Orsay, France) with the support of CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, the French space agency). Thanks to its 30µm pitch 500x256 format HgCdTe array sensitive from Short Wave to low Mid Wave Infrared, the NEPTUNE hyperspectral detector will image the asteroid ground over 365 spectral bandwidths between 0.95µm and 3.65 µm, enabling to determine its composition (mineral, organic, water).

Sofradir developed NEPTUNE detector more than ten years ago as an answer to the space-based and airborne hyperspectral or spectrometry applications.
“Sofradir is extremely proud to be part of this new deep space science mission that will surely excite every citizen and not only scientific teams, as we have lately witnessed with the ongoing ROSETTA mission”, said Philippe Bensussan, Sofradir Chairman and CEO.  “This attests to Sofradir’s increasing technological leadership in producing reliable and high performance IR products for space applications.”

Sofradir in space
With about 70 Flight Models already delivered worldwide over the last ten years, Sofradir holds a unique position as the European leader of space-proven second generation IR detectors.

About Sofradir
Sofradir is the leading developer and manufacturer of key classes of advanced infrared (IR) detectors for military, space and industrial applications. Its vast IR product portfolio covers the entire spectrum from the visible and near infrared to very far infrared. Sofradir pioneers developments in cooled IR detectors based on a sophisticated high performance technology, Mercury Cadmium Telluride (MCT) to which Indium Antimonide (InSb), Indium Gallium Arsenide (InGaAs) and Quantum Well Infrared Photodetector (QWIP) technologies are now added. Many of the world’s missile seekers, targeting pods, armored vehicle sights, Handheld Thermal Imagers and other airborne, naval and ground vehicle applications use Sofradir’s military-grade, battlefield proven IR detectors. Sofradir detectors are also the only ones in Europe to have such a heritage in space programs.

Founded in 1986, Sofradir carries out high volume manufacturing at its facilities in Veurey-Voroize, near Grenoble. It recently relocated its headquarters from Châtenay-Malabry to Palaiseau, near Paris, including a new manufacturing site to expand Grenoble’s plant capacities. Sofradir owns two subsidiaries: ULIS, a manufacturer of mass volume uncooled microbolometers based in Veurey-Voroize and US-based Sofradir-EC, a provider of uncooled and cooled IR imaging cores and engines, located in Fairfield, New Jersey. Together Sofradir, ULIS and Sofradir-EC employ about 700 people and generated more than 180 million Euros – $ 240 million in sales in 2013.