Detectors and Cameras
Among instruments used for space exploration, imaging detectors typically convert natural phenomena into tiny electrical impulses. The impulses are then amplified, processed, and converted into digital data streams that can be transmitted to the ground, further processed, and finally turned into a pictorial representation of the original object that was being sensed by the spacecraft. There is an ever-pressing need to expand the range and quality of imaging detectors used on space missions, and that drives research here at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
JPL develops a range of detectors for space instrument applications. Our development work takes place both in-house, and in cooperation with industry, universities, and other government-based laboratories. Research includes how to create detectors that are an order of magnitude more sensitive than those previously developed with higher resolution, lower noise, & greater dynamic range, while simultaneously reducing the overall size of instruments, and creating clever optical designs. These efforts to reduce mass and expand the reach of our vision operate in the x-ray, ultraviolet, visible, and infrared portions of the spectrum, and can in turn be applied to a myriad of cross-disciplinary applications here on Earth.