Cork-based SensL signs €1m contract with European Space Agency

23 Jun 2011

Cork company SensL has signed a €1m, three-year, multi-project contract with the European Space Agency (ESA).

SensL develops advanced silicon photomultipliers which detect low levels of light and are used for many purposes, such as medical imaging, biophotonics, hazard detection and LIDAR, replacing vacuum tube photomultipliers with a silicon sensor.

The contract involves the deployment of SensL’s silicon photomultipliers for range-finding LIDAR cameras to determine the location of suitable terrain for lunar landings. They will be used to look at light levels down to its photo level and to provide a visual map of an area that a rover will land on and operate in.

The technology will also be used in gamma-ray spectroscopy for element and isotope analysis.

“SensL is one of the growing number of Irish companies performing in the premier league in terms of global space technology and has confirmed its position as a supplier of highly innovative, cost-effective solutions in the cutting-edge space technology market sector,” said Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock, TD.

Ireland has been a member of the ESA since 2000, with more than 70 Irish technology companies securing contracts with the space agency. Ireland will contribute more than €14m to the ESA this year.

“SensL is benefiting from Ireland’s membership in the European Space Agency in the context of a national space strategy to support Irish technology companies. SensL is a prime example of a company that is deploying space-related technology in fields such as medical imaging,” said Sherlock.

“ESA participation has a demonstrated direct effect on the participating companies’ ability to generate commercial export sales in the supply of products in the commercial space and non-space market.”

“Over 70 Irish companies and research groups have secured an estimated €70m in ESA development contracts over the past 10 years and this number is expected to grow significantly in the next three years,” he said.