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CCD imagers may determine if anyone’s out there

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The Kepler mission, launched on 6 March, features 42 CCD90 imagers supplied by e2v.

The imagers are part of a specially designed 0.95m aperture wide field of view Schmidt telescope. The focal plane array of 42 backside illuminated ccds allows more than 95Megapixel images to be captured and is the largest array of ccds launched by NASA. However, the imagers will not be used to take sharp pictures; the images are intentionally defocused to about 10 arc seconds to improve photometric precision. The 42 e2v CCD90s populating the focal plane array have 2200 x 1044 active pixels – each measuring 27µm – and an imaging area of 28 x 55mm. Each is back thinned for high spectral response across the visible and near IR range. Margaret Frerking, Kepler deputy project manager from NASA JPL, said “Kepler, with its large focal plane array, will let us observe over 100,000 stars simultaneously and discover as many as 100 earth like planets during the course of the mission.”