Photon detection device for the WSO-UV space telescope

The WSO-UV is a mission led by the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, that aims at observing the universe in the ultraviolet range. The WSO-UV marks the largest joint project between Spain and Russia in the field of space research and technology.

As part of this collaboration, SENER successfully developed and delivered the structural thermal model for the ISSIS ultraviolet imaging instrument that was awarded in full to Spain in 2010, with the country also making major contributions to the mission’s Earth-based side, while its in-flight operations will be shared between Moscow and Madrid.

Following this successful development, the Spanish Ministry of Economics, Industry and Competitiveness commissioned a new instrument for the WSO/UV from SENER: The Photon Detection Device (PDD), which will be integrated into the satellite’s field camera unit.

The PDD is an instrument with a simplified optical structure and a compact design that will make it possible to obtain extremely high-resolution images with elevated sensitivity in the far ultraviolet range (115–180 nm). This electromagnetic spectrum range is crucial for astrophysics because it makes it possible to study emerging environments and to analyze and understand how chemicals have evolved over the last 10 billion years in the universe.

The PDD will be the first ultraviolet imaging instrument to operate in geo-synchronous orbit at over 35,000 km above the surface, making it possible to observe galactic halos and young planetary systems. In addition to this, the upcoming demise of the Hubble space telescope (estimated to take place in 2021) means that the PDD will ensure access to high-resolution spectroscopy in the far ultraviolet range.