ON Semiconductor, a premier supplier of high performance silicon solutions for energy efficient electronics today announced that the European Space Agency (ESA) has awarded it a joint development contract for the next generation star tracker CMOS Image Sensor (CIS), referred to as HAS3.

Once developed and qualified, the High Accuracy Star Tracker 3 (HAS3) image sensor will expand the STAR family of radiation-tolerant CIS. The existing HAS2 CIS offered today by ON Semiconductor is designed for Attitude and Orbit Control (AOCS) space applications. The HAS2 was developed and qualified under the General Support Technology Programme of the ESA. The device features an array of 1024 x 1024 active pixels (18 µm) and supports on-chip non-destructive readout and multiple windowing. Following its successful qualification in 2007, ON Semiconductor’s HAS2 image sensor has become the heart of a new generation of Star Trackers which have become the defacto industry standard.

The HAS3 next generation CIS to be jointly developed by ON Semiconductor and the ESA is expected to provide advanced sensor technology. The HAS3 will be a 1280 x 1280 pixel, radiation tolerant CMOS image sensor that features low read noise, 11 x 11 µm2 pixels having 14 bit performance. The HAS3 sensor will support multiple windowing, will be made available in a fully hermetic sealed package and has the option for backside illumination. Applications for the HAS3 device will include star trackers, sun sensors and other scientific applications.

When in July 2011, the silicon supplier producing the HAS2 wafers for ON Semiconductor announced that they would be discontinuing manufacture of this product, ON Semiconductor followed industry Product Change Notification procedures and put its HAS2 image sensor on a “Last Time Buy Status.” Where applicable, special arrangements have been made with existing customers to minimize the impact of this status change. In addition, ON Semiconductor has secured ample product inventory to supply this product to customers to service their predicted full lifetime needs. The company has been actively working with the ESA to perform systematic lot testing to assure HAS2 availability for the years to come. After this period, it is expected that the next generation HAS3 being jointly developed with the ESA will equip a new generation of APS Star Tracker.

“New product technology development and long term support for existing programs demonstrates ON Semiconductor’s commitment to the unique demands of the aerospace business,” said Vince Hopkin, vice president of Digital, Mil/Aero and CMOS Image Sensor Products at ON Semiconductor. “The company recognized that the HAS2 image sensor is a key component in multi-million dollar programs for which no acceptable replacement exists today for our customers. To support our customers and partners, the company made the decision and financial investment to secure sufficient wafer inventory to cover both our existing order backlog and the potential future demand for these HAS2 products from Plessey. We are proud to be a part of the ongoing development of advance image sensor technology supporting the aerospace market.”

According to Stephen Airey of the ESA’s Control Systems Division, “ESA have been working diligently with ON Semiconductor to secure and maintain the supply of the HAS2 image sensor. We are very pleased with the level of procured wafer stock and are convinced that this is more than sufficient for the foreseeable future. ESA is looking forward to the continued collaboration with ON Semiconductor to monitor and safeguard the supply of these components while simultaneously developing the next generation products.”

In case of any questions related to the specifications and/or availability of the HAS2 image sensor, please contact your local ON Semiconductor sales office or Customer Service representative.