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RSC, UMC Develop IC for Infrared Astronomy Applications
Aug 2002
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. & HSINCHU, Taiwan, August 26 -- Rockwell Scientific Co. LLC (RSC) and UMC announced they have developed the HAWAII-2RG, a readout integrated circuit (ROIC) designed by RSC and fabricated by UMC based on its mixed-mode CMOS process and precision stitching technique. The project was funded by the NASA Ames Research Center through a contract with the University of Hawaii.

The 40 mm x 40 mm chip is being used with infrared detectors developed by RSC to produce astronomy focal plane arrays (FPAs) with a base resolution of 4.2 million pixels and mosaic resolution of 16.8 million pixels. The infrared imaging sensor will be used in several of the world's largest ground-based telescopes; the arrays are also one of the candidates for NASA's next-generation space telescope (NGST).

RSC produces the FPA by bonding the HAWAII-2RG readout to a matching 2048 by 2048 infrared detector array fabricated in mercury cadmium telluride (HgCdTe), resulting in infrared sensors with 60 percent larger areas than 35 mm film.

NASA is also seeking a way to produce infrared sensor mosaics for its NGST. The NGST, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, is planned for launch in 2010. The project will orbit a six-meter class telescope at the Lagrangian L-2 point, far beyond the moon's orbit. If selected for flight, sets of four HAWAII-2RG infrared FPAs would be closely butted to make 4096 x 4096 mosaics for NGST, the most advanced infrared mosaics ever made, RSC said.

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The scientific observation of celestial radiation that has reached the vicinity of Earth, and the interpretation of these observations to determine the characteristics of the extraterrestrial bodies and phenomena that have emitted the radiation.
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