Understanding the evolution of radiation damage on the Gaia CCDs after 72 months at L2

Ahmed, Saad; Hall, David; Crowley, Cian; Skottfelt, Jesper; Dryer, Benjamin; Seabroke, George; Hernandez, Jose and Holland, Andrew (2022). Understanding the evolution of radiation damage on the Gaia CCDs after 72 months at L2. Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems, 8(1), article no. 016003.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1117/1.JATIS.8.1.016003


The European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft has been operating in L2 ever since its launch in December 2013 with a payload that includes 106 scientific charge-coupled devices (CCDs). Due to the predicted radiation environment at the pre-flight testing stage in addition to the high level of accuracy demanded by the science objectives, the non-ionizing energy loss (NIEL) damage on the detectors was identified as a major factor that could affect the science goals of the mission. Here, we present the analysis of an extended set of charge calibration data, taken up to almost six years after launch. It is found that the rate of radiation damage accumulation by the CCDs has not differed significantly from previous results. While the parallel and serial CTI measure an increase in time, the trap defect landscape is still dominated by the preflight defects rather than the radiation-induced traps. CCD devices that were predicted to have a lower NIEL dose measure comparatively larger rates of CTI increase. In addition to this, thicker devices have been measured to have lower serial CTI values compared to thinner devices. The initial parallel CTI values have also been found to be dependent on manufacture year.

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