Detector technology ‘to help NASA find earth-like exoplanets’

July 23rd, 2010 - 2:58 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, July 23 (ANI): A new detector technology could help NASA directly image and characterize exoplanets.

Rochester Institute of Technology scientist Don Figer is developing technology that can withstand the radiation in space, and count individual photons or light pulses - thereby eliminating noise that could obscure the faint signal - and characterize exoplanets in one-third the conventional time.

“A three-year mission becomes a one-year mission, or you can detect three times as many objects in the same fixed time. That’s usually what astronomers like to do,” says Figer, director of the Rochester Imaging Detector Laboratory and professor in the College of Science at RIT.

“One of the potentially most dramatic applications of zero-read noise technology might be in the occultation application because you’re required to make quick measurements at very fine time intervals,” Figer says.

“But when you make quick measurements with detectors the noise is higher. For a detector that doesn’t have read noise but detects individual photons, the noise would be zero regardless of how fast it is reading out.”

“I think, if it’s successful, it will pervade many applications in many fields,” Figer adds.

“In particular, for space astrophysics it would become a new standard.” (ANI)

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