As astronomical observations from space benefit from improved sensitivity, the effectiveness of scientific programs is becoming limited by systematics that often originate in poorly understood image sensor behavior. Traditional, bottom-up detector characterization methods provide one way to model underlying detector physics and generate ever more faithful numerical simulations, but this approach is vulnerable to preconceptions and over-simplification. The alternative top-down approach is laboratory emulation, which enables observation, calibration, and analysis scenarios to be tested without relying on a complete understanding of the underlying physics. This complements detector characterization and simulation efforts by testing their validity. We describe a laboratory facility and experimental testbed that supports the emulation of a wide range of mission concepts such as gravitational weak lensing measurements by the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope and high precision spectrophotometry of transiting exoplanets by James Webb Space Telescope. An Offner relay projects readily customizable “scenes” (e.g., stars, galaxies, and spectra) with very low optical aberration over the full area of a typical optical or near-infrared image sensor. f / 8 and slower focal ratios may be selected, spanning those of most proposed space missions and approximating the point spread function (PSF) size of seeing limited ground-based surveys. Diffraction limited PSFs are projected over a wide field of view and wavelength range to deliver highly predictable image patterns down to subpixel scales with stable intensity and fine motion control. The testbed enables realistic validation of detector performance on science-like images, which aids mission design and survey strategy as well as targeted investigations of various detector effects.
The NIP is a near infrared imaging photometer that is currently under investigation for the Euclid space mission
in context of ESA's 2015 Cosmic Vision program. Together with the visible camera (VIS) it will form the basis of
the weak lensing measurements for Euclid. The NIP channel will perform photometric imaging in 3 near infrared
bands (Y, J, H) covering a wavelength range from ~ 0.9 to 2 μm over a field of view (FoV) of ~ 0.5 deg2. With
the required limiting point source magnitude of 24 mAB (5 sigma) the NIP channel will be used to determine
the photometric redshifts of over 2 billion galaxies collected over a wide survey area of 20 000 deg2. In addition
to the photometric measurements, the NIP channel will deliver unique near infrared (NIR) imaging data over
the entire extragalactic sky, enabling a wide variety of ancillary astrophysical and cosmological studies. In this
paper we will present the results of the study carried out by the Euclid Imaging Consortium (EIC) during the
Euclid assessment phase.
Electronic coupling effects such as Inter-Pixel Capacitance (IPC) affect the quantitative interpretation of image data
from CMOS, hybrid visible and infrared imagers alike. Existing methods of characterizing IPC do not provide a map of
the spatial variation of IPC over all pixels. We demonstrate a deterministic method that provides a direct quantitative
map of the crosstalk across an imager. The approach requires only the ability to reset single pixels to an arbitrary
voltage, different from the rest of the imager. No illumination source is required. Mapping IPC independently for each
pixel is also made practical by the greater S/N ratio achievable for an electrical stimulus than for an optical stimulus,
which is subject to both Poisson statistics and diffusion effects of photo-generated charge. The data we present illustrates
a more complex picture of IPC in Teledyne HgCdTe and HyViSi focal plane arrays than is presently understood,
including the presence of a newly discovered, long range IPC in the HyViSi FPA that extends tens of pixels in distance,
likely stemming from extended field effects in the fully depleted substrate. The sensitivity of the measurement approach
has been shown to be good enough to distinguish spatial structure in IPC of the order of 0.1%.
We compare a more complete characterization of the low temperature performance of a nominal 1.7um cut-off
wavelength 1kx1k InGaAs (lattice-matched to an InP substrate) photodiode array against similar, 2kx2k HgCdTe
imagers to assess the suitability of InGaAs FPA technology for scientific imaging applications. The data we present
indicate that the low temperature performance of existing InGaAs detector technology is well behaved and comparable
to those obtained for state-of-the-art HgCdTe imagers for many space astronomical applications. We also discuss key
differences observed between imagers in the two material systems.
Precision near infrared (NIR) measurements are essential for the next generation of ground and space based instruments. The SuperNova Acceleration Probe (SNAP) will measure thousands of type Ia supernovae up to a redshift of 1.7. The highest redshift supernovae provide the most leverage for determining cosmological parameters, in particular the dark energy equation of state and its possible time evolution. Accurate NIR observations are needed to utilize the full potential of the highest redshift supernovae. Technological improvements in NIR detector fabrication have lead to high quantum efficiency, low noise detectors using a HgCdTe diode with a band-gap that is tuned to cutoff at 1.7 μm. The effects of detector quantum efficiency, read noise, and dark current on lightcurve signal to noise, lightcurve parameter errors, and distance modulus fits are simulated in the SNAPsim framework. Results show that improving quantum efficiency leads to the largest gains in photometric accuracy for type Ia supernovae. High quantum efficiency in the NIR reduces statistical errors and helps control systematic uncertainties at the levels necessary to achieve the primary SNAP science goals.
We present the results of a detailed study of the noise performance of candidate NIR detectors for the proposed Super-Nova Acceleration Probe. Effects of Fowler sampling depth and frequency, temperature, exposure time, detector material, detector reverse-bias and multiplexer type are quantified. We discuss several tools for determining which sources of low frequency noise are primarily responsible for the sub-optimal noise improvement when multiple sampling, and the selection of optimum fowler sampling depth. The effectiveness of reference pixel subtraction to mitigate zero point drifts is demonstrated, and the circumstances under which reference pixel subtraction should or should not be applied are examined. Spatial and temporal noise measurements are compared, and a simple method for quantifying the effect of hot pixels and RTS noise on spatial noise is described.
We present the results of a study of the performance of InGaAs detectors conducted for the SuperNova Acceleration
Probe (SNAP) dark energy mission concept. Low temperature data from a nominal 1.7um cut-off wavelength 1kx1k
InGaAs photodiode array, hybridized to a Rockwell H1RG multiplexer suggest that InGaAs detector performance is
comparable to those of existing 1.7um cut-off HgCdTe arrays. Advances in 1.7um HgCdTe dark current and noise
initiated by the SNAP detector research and development program makes it the baseline detector technology for SNAP.
However, the results presented herein suggest that existing InGaAs technology is a suitable alternative for other future
Large format (1k × 1k and 2k × 2k) near infrared detectors manufactured by Rockwell Scientific Center and Raytheon Vision Systems are characterized as part of the near infrared R&D effort for SNAP (the Super-Nova/Acceleration Probe). These are hybridized HgCdTe focal plane arrays with a sharp high wavelength cut-off at 1.7 μm. This cut-off provides a sufficiently deep reach in redshift while it allows at the same time low dark current operation of the passively cooled detectors at 140 K. Here the baseline SNAP near infrared system is briefly described and the science driven requirements for the near infrared detectors are summarized. A few results obtained during the testing of engineering grade near infrared devices procured for the SNAP project are highlighted. In particular some recent measurements that target correlated noise between adjacent detector pixels due to capacitive coupling and the response uniformity within individual detector pixels are discussed.
Techniques for passive remote sensing of aerosol optical and microphysical properties from space include visible, near- and shortwave-infrared imaging (e.g., from MODIS), multiangle intensity imaging (e.g., ATSR-2, AATSR, MISR), near-ultraviolet mapping (e.g., TOMS/OMI), and polarimetry (e.g., POLDER, APS). Each of these methods has unique strengths. In this paper, we present a concept for integrating these approaches into a unified sensor. Design goals include spectral coverage from the near-UV to the shortwave infrared; intensity and polarimetric imaging simultaneously at multiple view angles; global coverage within a few days; kilometer to sub-kilometer spatial resolution; and measurement of the degree of linear polarization (DOLP) for a subset of the spectral complement with an uncertainty of 0.5% or less. This high polarimetric accuracy is the most challenging aspect of the design, and is specified in order to achieve climate-quality uncertainties in optical depth, refractive index, and other microphysical properties. Based upon MISR heritage, a pushbroom multi-camera architecture is envisioned, using separate line arrays to collect imagery within each camera in the different spectral bands and in different polarization orientations. For the polarimetric data, accurate cross-calibration of the individual line arrays is essential. An electro-optic polarization "scrambler", activated periodically during calibration sequences, is proposed as a means of providing this cross-calibration. The enabling component is a rapid retardance modulator. Candidate technologies include liquid crystals, rotating waveplates, and photoelastic modulators (PEMs). The PEM, which uses a piezoelectric transducer to induce rapid time-varying stress birefringence in a glass bar, appears to be the most suitable approach. An alternative measurement approach, also making use of a PEM, involves synchronous demodulation of the oscillating signal to reconstruct the polarization state. The latter method is potentially more accurate, but requires a significantly more complex detector architecture.
A comparative study between radhard-by-design and radhard-by-foundry approaches for radiation hardening of CMOS imagers is presented. Main mechanisms for performance degradation in CMOS imagers in a radiation environment are identified, and key differences between the radiation effects in CMOS imagers and that in digital logic circuits are explained. Design methodologies for implementation of CMOS imagers operating in a radiation environment are presented. By summarizing the performance results obtained from imagers implemented in both radhard-by-design and radhard-by-foundry approaches, the advantages and shortcomings of both approaches are identified. It is shown that neither approach presents an optimum solution. The paper concludes by discussing an alternate pathway to overcome these limitations and enable the next-generation high-performance radiation-hard CMOS imagers.