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Space Missions Carry Materion Optics

Update from Out of this World 


Materion contributed to a new but little known NASA Mars mission that recently achieved its destination. The orbiter named MAVEN (no lander on this mission) entered Mars’ orbit after a 10-month journey for the purpose of characterizing the planet’s upper atmosphere.  One result of MAVEN’s observations will be a better understanding of the loss of hydrogen and oxygen which have escaped Mars’ surface over time which in turn will allow scientists to estimate the amount of water present.

IUVS instrument from MAVEN. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL.

We provided critical ultraviolet optical elements for MAVEN’s Imaging UV Spectrograph (IUVS). Our customer was the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado.  Materion collaborated over many months to optimize the design and specifications for the optics.  This required in-depth support from our technical staff and multiple exchange visits between personnel at LASP in Boulder, CO and Materion in Westford, MA.

WV3 Satellite

On the commercial Earth imaging front, Materion also contributed to the World View 3 (WV3) satellite recently launched by Digital Globe (DG). We designed, manufactured and delivered multispectral filter arrays for instruments aboard WV3. For the primary imager, we produced a standard 4-band visible / near infrared (VNIR) filter array along with a panchromatic band.  It also carries a new array for the Shortwave InfraRed (SWIR) which enables far greater imaging capability than that of earlier versions.

SWIR Images_WV3Lift the veil of smoke and fog with SWIR.

By focusing on specific bands that pass easily through substances such as CO2 and water vapor, you can detect objects on the other side of them, rendering the obstructions invisible. One benefit of Materion technology used on the WV3 is clearly illustrated here.  In the visible image on the left, the Earth is obscured by smoke from a wild fire.  The image on the right was taken through our SWIR filters and reveals the Earth’s surface through the smoke.

WV3 – the CAVIS Instrument

Materion also manufactured a set of filters for the CAVIS instrument for WV3.  Our customer was Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.  The CAVIS instrument is used in conjunction with the primary imager to enhance the imaging capabilities for snow and ice.  It corrects for aerosol and water vapor in the atmosphere, which allows it to extend and enhance the Earth imaging capability.

WV3 is now producing commercial imagery at 31 cm (one foot) ground resolution.  Such high resolution, until very recently, could only be found in the domain of government surveillance satellites. Its re-visit time is less than one day, compared to several days for Landsat.  (Landsat ground resolution incidentally is 30 meters.)

GOES-R Satellite_NASAOther Imaging Missions

Materion continues to support government Earth imaging missions.  We are currently building filter arrays for both the VIIRS and OMPS instruments to be flown on the new NOAA Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) series of weather satellites.  The precursor satellite in this polar series, SUOMI NPP, also carries our multispectral array filters (22 bands) in the VIIRS instrument.  Materion also provided UV filters (to LASP) for the Extreme Ultraviolet and X-ray Irradiance Sensor  (EXIS), a space weather instrument aboard NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R series (GOES-R) mission.                           
Image courtesy of NASA.

For more information on Materion’s Space, Science & Astronomy capabilities, contact Tom Mooney, Project Engineering Manager,