Dr. Werner Gross
The sensor chip that detects CO2 sources with the help of infrared technology is a little bit larger than a One Euro Coin.
"The sensor is integrated into a satellite that is continuously orbiting the earth. The satellite scans the earth's surface by means of infrared technology. Thermal movements can be easily detected because the satellite is reacting sensitively to heat sources. The data add up to images that are suitable for scientific climate research," explains Dr. Werner Gross from AIM in Heilbronn.
The satellite not only identifies forest fires at an early point, but also rising water temperatures or environmental pollution via the emissions of CO2.
Robust technology for space
In space, sensitive technology has to withstand minus 270°C of cold weather and one hundred degrees of heat as well as further environmental influences such as space radiation. "This is the reason why the sensors are encased with a kind of thermos flask." "This protection shields extreme heat and avoids that humidity has a negative effect on the instrument's functions," knows the expert.
Delivering top technology by means of testing
In order to make sure that the infrared detector works reliably, conditions are simulated in the laboratory and technology is extensively tested. Dr. Werner Gross reports: "Heavy vibration and shock loads occur when traveling to space. The rocket carrying the satellite into space accelerates to approximately 40,000 km/h. In the laboratory, for example, a "shaker" is used for the simulation of the rocket launch.
Potential for an environmentally friendly future
Reliable data are indispensable to the observation and classification of climate changes. AIM, a subsidiary of Diehl Defence and Rheinmetall Electronics, is working on orders from Germany as well as for European, Korean and Japanese satellite missions. Space-qualified infrared technology by AIM is a key component for current and future satellite missions in the field of earth observation.