Image Sensors Around the World

by  Michael DeLuca  - 06-06-2016 

With image sensors from ON Semiconductor used in space missions to other planets, it’s not surprising that our image sensor technology can also be found closer to home in commercial satellites that orbit the Earth.  Since these satellites don’t need to leave Earth orbit, they can be designed with quite impressive capabilities, with the detailed images they capture used in applications as diverse as urban planning, the mapping of natural resources, and evacuation planning and disaster response. 

A good example of these capabilities can be found in the WorldView-3 satellite, launched by DigitalGlobe in 2014.  With an average revisit time of less than one day, this satellite can image in 28 different spectral bands ranging from blue (400 nm) through SWIR (2245 nm), and provides panchromatic resolution of 31 cm (1 foot).  Or said another way, it can tell whether you’ve left your laptop on the table at an outdoor café, or see through the smoke of a forest fire to image the ground.  And then check again tomorrow to see if anything has changed.

Not bad for a camera orbiting over 600 km (375 miles) away.

To design and build the imaging system used in WorldView-3, DigitalGlobe contracted with Harris Corporation, which has a rich history of developing advanced imaging solutions for remote sensing.  And when Harris needed custom CCD image sensors to deploy in this system, they came to us. 

WorldView-3 isn’t the first time we have worked with Harris to design and manufacture CCD image sensors used a commercial imaging satellite.  The CCD image sensors used in the imaging systems found in GeoEye-1, WorldView-1, WorldView-2, and WorldView-3 (as well IKONOS and QuickBird, two other satellites no longer in operation) were all developed in a similar manner.  And later this year, they will be joined by a new satellite (WorldView-4) that will further expand commercial availability of high resolution, 30 cm imagery and help us better understand our changing planet – with images captured using advanced technology from ON Semiconductor.


DigitalGlobe has a gallery that showcases the different types of imagery captured by their satellites – be sure to go there to see some examples of the detailed images available from these systems.

Tags:CCD Image Sensor, CCD, Aerospace, Image Sensor
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