The Near-Earth Object Camera (NEOCam) is a mission designed to discover
and characterize most of the potentially hazardous asteroids that are
near the Earth. NEOCam consists of an infrared telescope and a
wide-field camera operating at thermal infrared wavelengths.
The NEOCam instrument will use detector arrays manufactured by
Teledyne Imaging Sensors similar to those used by NASA's WISE mission
and the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide-field Camera 3 instrument. The
detectors are being modified slightly to allow them to detect longer
infrared wavelengths while still being optimized for looking into cold
space. The NEOCam detectors' high heritage for astronomical
applications, excellent noise characteristics, and relatively "warm"
allowable operating temperature make them the preferred choice for
detecting near-Earth objects.
NEOCam will operate in a stable, cold environment. The
mission's mercury-cadmium-telluride (HgCdTe) detectors are capable of
operating in this environment for many years without requiring expensive
cryocoolers or life-limiting cryogens. NEOCam will use Teledyne's
HgCdTe Astronomical Wide Area Infrared Imager (HAWAII) detector
architecture, which is in use in astronomical telescopes around the
NEOCam is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. NEOCam's
partners include Teledyne Imaging Sensors, the Infrared Processing and
Analysis Center (IPAC) of the California Institute of Technology, the
Space Dynamics Laboratory, and Ball Aerospace.