The ability to image in harsh environments such as Venus is of interest and use including for missions to the surface of Venus. Today overwhelmingly almost all video cameras are based on silicon charge coupled devices (CCDs); however CCDs are not suited for and not capable of functioning at high/extreme temperature environments such as surface and atmosphere of Venus. Vidicons and similar types of imaging vacuum tubes such as Plumbicons were used for decades as the primary source of video cameras and in broadcast (e.g., television) in the 1990s and even for space-based missions and medical applications. Vidicons have certain advantages including high resolution and distortion-free images and can be digitally controlled and operated in much the same way that modern CCD-based cameras are. Vidicons and Plumicons can be designed, engineered and implemented to be suitable and compatible with missions to Venus’ surface and atmosphere. Vidicons and Plumbicons are basically the same imaging device and differ primarily in the photoconductive target material with Plumbicons using a lead II oxide (PbO) photoconductive target whereas Vidicons use other materials such as antimony selenide based and silicon photoconductive targets. We propose to research and develop a video imaging camera suitable for use on missions to Venus with suitable 500oC components based on the Vidicon/Plumicon principles of operation that will have a long operational life at 500oC in the harsh, corrosive and extreme environment found on or near the surface of Venus. This will include promising high temperature photoconductive target candidates including gallium phosphide (GaP), gallium arsenide (GaAs), gallium arsenide (GaN) for UV, indium gallium arsenide (InGaN), zinc oxide (ZnO), silicon carbide (SiC) among others. Si photodiodes have been used in numerous Vidicons including ones for NASA space missions. InnoSys has extensive experience in sealing to ultra-high vacuum pressures.
The anticipated results of this proposed development is simple practical imaging camera for extreme high temperature needs of NASA/JPL including missions to Venus. Once developed, there will be a family of rugged high to extreme high temperature digital imaging cameras suitable for operation in very hostile, corrosive high temperature environments up to 500oC. This will open up the possibility of such an imaging camera system for use in Venus, atmospheric probes for giant planets missions and other space and terrestrial applications.
The development will pave the way for localized digital video camera imaging in extreme environments. There are a wide range of ground and space-based applications that require detection and imaging including optical communication, flame detection, combustion monitoring, chemical analysis, astronomy, aeronautics, requiring video imaging capable of operating in high-temperature harsh environments.