As engineer Stephanie Cheung directs the activity, NASA technician Billy Keim removes a 16-megapixel detector from its shipping container's internal fixture. The planned Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will be equipped with 18 of these infrared detectors, which have now been certified for launch. The Roman team has extra detectors that they will employ for various purposes. Six of the surplus detectors were set aside as flight-quality backups, with many more set aside for testing. Extra spare detectors might be used as the eyes of other telescopes with less stringent quality criteria.
Roman has provided four detectors for use in Japan's Prime-focus Infrared Microlensing Experiment (PRIME) telescope, which is housed at the South African Astronomical Observatory in Sutherland. NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency supplied the detectors as part of an international arrangement (JAXA).
This telescope, which will be operational this autumn, will use microlensing to search for exoplanets worlds outside our solar system. The results of this preliminary survey will be used by Roman scientists to influence their observation strategy, increasing the number of planets discovered by the mission. Experience with detectors similar to those used in Roman will help scientists develop their data processing tools to capitalize on Roman's massive data volume when it opens in May 2027.