The CEI was involved in the development of an imaging payload for the UK Space Agency's first Cubesat mission, UKube-1. The mission was a pilot study for the viability of the quick-turnaround space missions that cubesats can provide. UKube-1 had three scientific payloads slots onboard, one of which the CEI successfully bid for with a design, the Compact CMOS Camera Demonstrator, or C3D. C3D hosts three seperate cameras; a wide-field imager, a narrow field imager and an imager to study radiation damage effects in the device.
UKube-1 launched in July 2014 and although the mission is over (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ukube-1-completes-mission) can still be tracked here: http://www.n2yo.com/satellite/?s=40074
Besides taking high quality images and measuring degradation due to radiation damage, the payload satisfied several other important milestones. The imager was the first demonstration of a European 0.18 µm-technology imager in space, and showed that the technology is ready for use in more exotic missions such as lunar and martian rovers, the EJSM HRC or Solar-C.
The CEI and e2v have been working for over 5 years in the development of new CMOS Imager technology, and during the last 2 years have been characterising an e2v 0.5 Mpix 5.8 µm pixel integrated CMOS sensor. This sensor has been characterized for proton damage effects up to 1x1010 cm-2 and using gammas to evaluate total ionizing dose effects with operational doses beyond 100 krads, and very recently has been evaluated for SEU and SEL effects using a heavy ion beam. The conclusions from this work state that the radiation effects induced in the imager are broadly similar to that measured on existing CCDs (flatband voltage changes, dark current increase, the creation of bright and flickering pixels), which imply that for scientific use such imagers will still require cooling. The CMOS sensors clearly do not suffer the charge transfer losses experienced by CCDs, however they are susceptible to SEU and latchup effects which are not a concern for CCDs. The instrument therefore offers a good opportunity to study these effects in the real space environment, particularly when passing through the SAA.