Sofradir’s 1k2 Next Generation Panchromatic detector (NGP), a new 1024x1024 visible to SWIR Focal Plane Assembly, brings added performance to observation instruments used in space and is easy to integrate, thus shortening supplier delivery times.

Palaiseau (near Paris), France – September 22, 2014 – Sofradir, a leading developer of key classes of advanced infrared detectors for military, space and industrial applications, announces the introduction of NGP 1k2, a new ready-to-deploy 1024x1024 visible to short wavelength infrared (SWIR) detector. NGP large format provides increased space resolution or spectral resolution for image spectrometers and other observation instruments used in space, thereby enhancing the ability for scientists to correctly identify and characterize chemical phenomena. Equally importantly, NGP ready-to-deploy design allows space agency customers to very quickly tailor it to fit any spectral waveband. It offers system integrators more flexibility and shortens mission preparation time.

Sofradir developed large format NGP as part of a research and development contract with the European Space Agency (ESA). NGP’s 1k x 1k format is four times larger than existing Sofradir SATURN starring array IR product currently deployed on observation satellites or spacecrafts.

As initially planned it took 24 months to design and to validate NGP. The bigger the format, the better the image resolution, making NGP well suited for future hyperspectral or spectrometry applications but also for Earth observation or deep-space science applications.

“Sofradir is extremely proud to make the large format NGP 1024x1024 visible to SWIR detector available to our customers focusing on space applications,” said Philippe Chorier, space department manager at Sofradir. “NGP 1k2 attests to Sofradir’s increasing technological leadership in producing reliable and high performance IR products for space applications. The product’s ready-to-deploy feature responds to demands to shorten space mission delivery times or to minimize the risks in delays. Based on its added performance and time saving benefits, we anticipate a lot of interest in NGP 1k2 in future space missions”.
Due to its 1024x1024 15μm pitch format HgCdTe array sensitive from visible to Short Wave Infrared (from 0.35μm to 2.5μm), hybridized on a CTIA Read-Out Integrated Circuit demonstrating low noise (<150 electrons), low consumption and high linearity (>99% of the dynamic range), this Focal Plane Assembly met all expectations (e.g. ROIC design first pass success) and brings the best imaging performances (low PRNU, low dark current, high MTF) required by future space-based payloads.

NGP is the first European-made space-oriented megapixel array that space agencies can now consider for deep space science (planets and asteroids studies), Earth observation and Earth monitoring (meteorology, global warming studies, agriculture surveillance,…) applications.


As a matter of fact, the NGP detector was selected in 2014 for the SENTINEL-5 mission planned for launch by 2021 on-board METOP-SG satellite in order to monitor the Earth atmosphere from a polar orbit.

Sofradir in space

With about 70 Flight Models already delivered over the last ten years, Sofradir holds a unique position as the only maker of IR detectors in Europe to be space-proven. Infrared detectors from Sofradir are currently on-board Helios II (Earth observation) and Spirale (early warning system) military satellites, as well as the Venus Express scientific probe (SPICAV / SOIR instrument - Spectrometry for Investigation of Characteristics of the Atmosphere of Venus / Solar Occultation IR-). Its IR products were also delivered to be deployed in space instruments on Sentinel 2, part of the European GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) space initiative, on the TROPOMI/Sentinel 5 Precursor (part of the GMES), the hyperspectral Earth observation systems PRISMA (Italy) and HYSUI (Japan), as well as on scientific instruments such as Phobos Grunt and Nomad (ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter).
Other programs in progress include: MUSIS/CSO (successor of HELIOS II), MTG (Meteosat Third Generation, ESA), and SGLI (Second generation GLobal Imager) instrument onboard GCOM-C (Global Change Observing Mission -Climate), HAYABUSA2 (asteroid study) or CHANDRAYAAN-2 (lunar surface mapping).