Materion Barr Precision Optics & Thin Film Coatings filters now deployed on the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) satellite imager.
On February 11, NASA's Atlas V rocket carrying the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) spacecraft roared off the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California carrying filters built by Materion Barr Precision Optics & Thin Film Coating in Westford and Tyngsboro, Massachusetts. The LDCM satellite mission will extend more than 40 years of global land observations that are critical in many areas, such as energy and water management, forest monitoring, human and environmental health, urban planning, disaster recovery and agriculture.
Materion Barr Precision Optics & Thin Film Coatings built an impressive set of 9-band assembled (butcher-block) arrays in the 2008 timeframe for customer Ball Aerospace. The nine visible and near infrared bands will allow scientists to image various features such as sedimentation in rivers, mineral deposits, soil moisture, fires, vegetation and crop stress, along with the routine true color (RGB) Earth images we are familiar with via Google Earth. The coatings were produced in Westford and the cutting, assembly and lithography done in Tyngsboro. Fourteen of the precisely matched assemblies were eventually mounted on the focal plane assembly of the Operational Land Imager (OLI) which is a payload instrument of the LDCM satellite.
Materion also made the infrared filters for a second payload instrument on the LDCM called the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) for customer NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. The TIRS images provide information with respect to surface temperatures. The TIRS filter set was made and tested by the Tyngsboro infrared group and consisted of an 11 micron and a 12 micron bandpass filter. No stranger to producing materials for Landsat missions, Materion also manufactured conventional, discrete filters in the 1990's for the Enhanced Thematic Mapper, plus (ETM+) instruments flown on Landsat 6 and 7 for our customer the Santa Barbara Research Center, now part of Raytheon, El Segundo.
Thomas Mooney, Product Engineering Manager, Precision Optics noted, "The government was in fact skeptical that we could produce these arrays with low enough scatter, or deflection of light rays, but the Ball/Materion Barr team convinced NASA that we had a solid scatter mitigation plan and early results proved us correct. In the end, all the filters far exceeded requirements and set a new standard for this type of filter, leading to new array jobs here and in Europe. Materion received awards from both Ball and NASA for this work and several scientific papers for SPIE and Optical Society of America were published describing our work to the engineering and science communities."