Resource Detailed View
Remote sensing space instruments measuring (e.g.) energy budgets need reliable calibration covering wavelengths from the visible to the far-infrared.
New detectors (e.g. Thermopiles) are now available from a variety of European suppliers which give for the first time good sensitivity across a very broad spectral range from the UV to long wavelengths (e.g. 300Ám).
For example, the long wave (e.g. 50 to 300Ám) is a region of the spectrum relatively little explored in traditional instruments, but is essential for accurate measurements of airless bodies (e.g. the Moon, Asteroids, Mercury) that experience a large range of day/night temperatures. When combined with miniature filters developed in Europe (UK) a whole new class of low mass/high sensitivity instruments is now possible and instruments of this type are currently being considered in several of the responses to ESA's upcoming Cosmic Visions announcement of opportunity.
The combination of these developments makes the formation of a European facility for characterising and calibrating sensors and targets both timely and essential. The proposed facility will integrate several existing elements developed in Oxford over the last decade, and allow reference sources and detectors to be maintained and cross calibrated, providing long term references for the characterisation of detectors and infrared instruments.
The facility will be based around Oxford's "cold optics chamber" which has already been used for
Cassini/CIRS focal plane testing, characterisation of candidate long wave detectors for BepiColombo, gas transmission spectroscopy and miniature filter characterisation for instruments on the Mars and Lunar Reconnaissance orbiters. Spectral calibration facilities will use both monochromators (for absolute accuracy) and interferometers (for speed and signal throughput), with both instruments types providing full coverage of the visible to far infrared.
Radiometric calibration will be enhanced by the development of new black body targets for absolute calibration in the near-infrared, and the provision of stable reference detectors (e.g. Golay cells, well characterised thermopiles. Radiometric calibration will be supported by the existing Oxford temperature calibration service.
Dr Neil Bowles,
Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics,
Oxford OX1 3PU
Phone : +44/0 1865 272097
Fax : +44/0 1865 272923