Space Projects


In addition to the established AIM core business of developing and manufacturing infrared detector components, modules, and cameras for defence applications, AIM succeeded to enter the market of “infrared detector assemblies for space applications”. AIM has been involved in several case studies and technology assessments performed under DLR and ESA contracts targeting future space missions. Meanwhile, AIM is also contracted to deliver mission specific flight hardware for scientific and operational national and international space programes.

These developments are based on AIM’s approved infrared technologies, supplemented with the required space related product assurance and qualification procedures.

Two important AIM space projects are described below:


Infrared-Detector for EnMAP

Infrared-Detector for EnMAP
The “Environmental Mapping and Analysis Program” (EnMAP) is the first German hyperspectral satellite mission. The objective is to collect high quality hyperpectral data on geo and biospherical parameters of the earth’s surface to deduce information on vegetation and properties of the surface and the environment. Thereto the satellite records the radiation reflected from the earth’s surface in a sun synchronous orbit around the two poles. The surface is scanned at a width of 30 km. The start of the EnMAP satellite is planned for 2017.

For the EnMAP satellite project AIM develops and manufactures the detector module for the SWIR spectral range. Thereby AIM relies on its proven infrared technology on the basis of mercury-cadmium-tellurid focal plane arrays (MCT-FPAs). For the hyperspectral image recording AIM develops a two dimensional MCT-FPA which must be cooled to -140°C.


Sentinel 3: First Satellite with AIM-Detector takes off 2015

For the joint earth observation system Kopernikus of the EU and the European Space Organisation ESA five different satellite series Sentinel-1 to Sentinel-5 are being developed. AIM participates in the development of infrared detectors for the satellite Sentinel-3 for the surveillance of oceans and coastal areas. The first launch of a Sentinel-3 satellite is planned for 2015. For the instrument SLSTR (Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer) of the satellite AIM develops the infrared detector arrays for six different IR spectral channels. In these the earth’s surface is scanned to determine the total sea temperatures and therewith the temperature distribution of the oceans. As one of a few detector producers AIM is in a position to offer the required highly sensitive MCT-IR detector arrays from one source.


Credits: ESA/Thales
Credits: ESA/Thales/SG