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 other types of imaging vacuum tubes 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. To make Vidicons that are compatible with the harsh environments of Venus, we propose to: Replace the glass envelope with ceramic such as quartz, sapphire, combinations of these optically/visibly transparent materials with very high optical/light transmission in the desired visible and near infrared spectrum; Implement protective coatings for all the exposed metal contacts on the Vidicon/Plumbicon; most important, replace the low operating temperature photo- target materials with suitable materials that can survive and stable at temperatures up to and beyond 500oC; and Other modifications that may be necessary.
Based on InnoSys’ extensive vacuum electronic background and experiences, during the Phase I, we have researched and studied various high temperature photoconductive target candidates and proof-of-feasibility demonstrated the imaging concept suitable for use on missions to Venus with suitable 500oC components based on the Vidicon principles of operation that will survive the harsh environment found on or near the surface of Venus. In the Phase II study, InnoSys will further develop these 500oC components and also the packaging to assemble a prototype Venus Imaging Camera to be delivered to NASA.
The anticipated results of this proposed development is simple practical imaging camera for extreme high temperature needs of NASA 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.
Our proposed video imaging camera capable of operating in harsh-temperatures and high radiation environments can be used to analyze clinical, metallurgical, geological, agricultural, and environmental samples and have applications: imaging fires, high temperature furnace, geothermal, oil, inspection/detection in nuclear reactor core, automotive, avionics, aeronautics, Homeland Security, military.