ABB and Nüvü to deliver exo-planet cameras for NASA future telescope

A two-year contract awarded to ABB from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will see key ABB/Nüvü Caméras technology fly onboard the space telescope in 2025, on course to capture the first spaceborne images of planets outside our solar system.

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 the first dedicated exoplanet imaging camera in space, the CGI (CoronaGraph Imager). 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 significantly dimmer than their neighboring star and barely separated from one another. NASA’s CGI complex arrangement of optical components manage to block out the star light and send the residual light of the nearby planet to a highly sensitive camera. This is where the unique ABB/Nüvü imaging solution comes at play in revealing the unusual dot that was previously invisible.

“The Roman mission is a $3.2 billion project which should be 100 to 1000 times more powerful for imaging exo-planets than what is 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 which will require our most advanced technological expertise to succeed,” stated Marc Corriveau, General Manager ABB Measurement & Analytics Canada. “We are thankful to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Space Technology Development Program which enabled the EMCCD camera technology to be brought to a maturity level sufficient for its consideration by NASA‘s JPL.” said Olivier Daigle, Chief Technology Officer at Nüvü Caméras.

The ABB contract win follows a recent contract award from GHGSAT to supply additional optical payloads for their satellite constellation expansion which provides high resolution imagery of methane leaks. ABB optical equipment already in space cumulates more than 90 years of reliable operation. The SCISAT sensor tracks long-term composition changes in the earth’s atmosphere for more than 60 molecules and pollutants down to parts per trillion since 2003. Weather agencies around the world base their predictions on ABB technology at the heart of the latest generation of polar satellites of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which saves lives by improving the timeliness and accuracy of weather forecasts for up to seven days. 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.

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