Goodbye CASINI

September 2017.  There will never be another spacecraft like CASINI.  Thanks for including Amptek Charge Sensitive Preamplifiers and electronics on your incredible 20 year journey.

NICER Collecting Data

Amptek SDDs on NICER. Credits: NASA/Keith Gendreau

August 2017.  The Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer, or NICER, is the first NASA mission dedicated to studying pulsars. In a nod to the 50th anniversary of Jocelyn Bell’s discovery, NICER observed the famous first pulsar, known today as PSR B1919+21.  NICER launched to the International Space Station in early June and started science operations in July.

NICER on International Space Station

A view of the NICER X-ray Timing Instrument without its protective blanketing. Amptek SDDs are mounted inside on the gold colored board.
Credits: NASA/Keith Gendreau

The Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) is an International Space Station (ISS)

payload devoted to the study of neutron stars through soft X-ray timing.  NICER was launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on June 3, 2017, installed on the ISS and has begun initial calibration and hardware commissioning.  The heart of the instrument is an aligned collection of 56 Amptek silicon drift detectors (SDD) with C Series Windows and X-ray “concentrator” optics (XRC) pairs. Each XRC collects X-rays over a large geometric area from a roughly 30 arcmin2 region of the sky and focuses them onto a small SDD. The Amptek SDD detects individual photons, recording their energies with good (few percent) spectral resolution and their detection times to an unprecedented 100 nanoseconds RMS relative to Universal Time. Together, this assemblage provides a high signal-to-noise-ratio photon-counting capability within the 0.2-12 keV X-ray band, perfectly matched to the typical spectra of neutron stars as well as a broad collection of other astrophysical sources.

GOES-R Update 2

The Space Environment In-Situ Suite (SEISS) Data Processing Unit (DPU) was activated on 21 December 2016, and has began successful acquisition of data.  checkout procedure.

Japan’s ERG Mission LaunchedERG

On December 19, 2016 the Exploration of Energisation and Radiation in Geospace (ERG) mission, operated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), studying Earth’s magnetosphere was successfully launched.  Also known as SPRINT-B, ERG aims at elucidating how highly charged electrons have been born while they generate and vanish repeatedly along with space storms caused by the disturbance of solar wind caused by space storms, and how space storms are developed.

Amptek’s HV801 High Voltage Optocoupler was selected for the MEP-e, MEP-I, LEP-e, and LEP-I systems that are part of the ERG Mission.

GOES-R Update

On November 29, 2016, NOAA’s GOES-R satellite executed its final liquid apogee engine burn without anomaly. This has placed the satellite approximately 22,000 miles away with an inclination of 0.0 degrees, meaning it has reached geostationary orbit. GOES-R is now GOES-16!

Amptek Congratulates GOES-R on Successful Launch (November 19, 2016)

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R seiss-instrumentsSeries (GOES-R) is NOAA’s next generation of geostationary weather satellites. The first satellite in the series, GOES-R, was launched on November 19, 2016. The satellite will provide continuous imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth’s Western Hemisphere, total lightning data, and space weather monitoring to provide critical atmospheric, hydrologic, oceanic, climatic, solar and space data.  The Space Environment In-Situ Suite (SEISS) operates with numerous Amptek products: A250, A275, BLR1, 9405, A121, PH300RH, HV801.

Amptek Applauds the Success of the MinXSS Nanosatellite

MinXSS (Miniature X-ray Solar Spectrometer) is a 3U CubeSat solar physics mission of the CU (University of Colorado) at Boulder, designed to better understand the energy distribution of solar flare SXR (Soft X-ray) emissions and its impact on the Earth’s ITM (Ionosphere, Thermosphere, and Mesosphere). The Amptek X-123SDD was chosen as an integral component of this project.  The MinXSS-1 is currently in orbit with the X-123SDD performing solar SXR spectral measurements in the 0.5-30 keV range (0.04-2.5 nm) with 0.15 keV energy resolution.  The MinXSS-2 is scheduled for launch in the Fall of 2016.

Please see for further information.

Farewell to Rosetta

September 30, 2016  The Rosetta spacecraft was successfully launched on March 2, 2004 and completed its mission today after a controlled impact on the surface of the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet.  Amptek is proud to have been part of this mission and congratulates all those who have taken part.  Please see the Rosetta Home Page for more information.

Amptek SDD flies on OSIRIS-REx

The primary objective of the OSIRIS-REx mission is to collect a sample from an asteroid and return it to Earth but the spacecraft will also carry out an extensive remote-sensing campaign at asteroid Bennu using a suite of scientific instruments. These include cameras and various spectrometers to learn about the composition and appearance of the asteroid’s surface while gravity science will reveal what lies beneath.

One of five remote-sensing instruments, the REXIS is the Regolith X-Ray Imaging Spectrometer and represents a student collaboration experiment that is the result of a joint venture between MIT and Harvard University. The instrument is tasked with the creation of a global X-Ray map of asteroid Bennu to enhance the mission’s remote-sensing capabilities.

For more information, please see

Amptek Welcomes HS Foils


 — Adds Unique Technology to AMETEK’s Materials Analysis business —

 Berwyn, PA, AUGUST 4, 2016 – AMETEK, Inc. (NYSE: AME) today announced that it has completed the acquisition of HS Foils, a provider of radiation detector components, including ultra-thin radiation windows, silicon drift detectors and x-ray filters.

HS Foils has developed patented intellectual property around silicon nitride window technology which significantly expands the limits of X-ray window performance and application areas.  In addition, HS Foils has extensive expertise around Si-PIN and silicon drift detection (SDD) manufacturing.

“The acquisition of HS Foils provides us with exciting technology which is highly complementary to a number of our Materials Analysis businesses, including Amptek, Edax, Cameca and Spectro,” comments David Zapico, AMETEK Chief Executive Officer.  The addition of HS Foils and its unique silicon nitride window technology will enable world-class instrument performance across our businesses,” adds Mr. Zapico.

HS Foils is privately held and is based in Helsinki, Finland.  HS Foils joins AMETEK as part of Amptek in the Materials Analysis Division within the AMETEK Electronic Instruments Group (EIG).  AMETEK EIG is a leader in advanced analytical, monitoring, testing, calibrating and display instruments with annual sales of $2.4 billion.

Congratulations to Alan Huber, 2016 Birks Award Recipient

August 3, 2016 – Amptek is proud to announce that Alan C. Huber is the 2016 Birks Award recipient, presented by the Denver X-ray Conference. This award is given to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the X-ray spectrometry field.

Alan Huber 2016 Birks Award Recipient
Alan Huber 2016 Birks Award Recipient

Alan co-founded Amptek Inc. in 1977 along with John Pantazis, where he was foremost in the conception of the XR-100 X-ray detector for commercial use. When Alan began development of the thermoelectrically cooled detector there was virtually no hand-held or portable XRF market. No cost-effective technology existed with good enough performance in a small enough package that could be incorporated into a portable XRF analyzer. Alan’s research has been instrumental in improving detector resolution and cost efficiency thus enabling more applications and thereby providing access to the technique to markets and users never thought possible by the analytical industry.

Alan Huber, a graduate of The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is the co-author of numerous research papers concerning X-ray spectrometry and has received two R&D 100 awards recognizing his scientific innovations.

About the Birks Award

The Denver X-ray Conference Advisory Committee established the Birks Award in 1986 to recognize outstanding contributions to the field of X-ray spectrometry. The award is named in honor of L. S. (Verne) Birks for his many contributions to the X-ray analysis field. Presented biennially, the award is made possible through the generosity of the companies and organizations that exhibit their products at the Denver X-ray Conference. The award was presented at the Plenary Session of the Denver X-ray Conference on August 3. The International Centre for Diffraction Data organized the Conference. The Centre is a non-profit scientific organization dedicated to collecting, editing, publishing, and distributing powder diffraction data for the identification of crystalline materials.

Amptek Congratulates JUNO on Reaching Jupiter

July 4, 2016 – JUNO began its journey to Jupiter on August 5, 2011 and entered into a polar orbit on July 4, 2016 to study Jupiter’s composition, gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere. JUNO will also search for clues about how the planet formed, including whether it has a rocky core, the amount of water present within the deep atmosphere, mass distribution, and its deep winds.

Amptek is proud to have supplied hybrid electronics and high voltage optocouplers for this mission.


NASA illustration of Juno orbiting Jupiter.

For more information about the mission instruments, click here

For more information about The Jovian Auroral Distributions Experiment (JADE) on the Juno Mission to Jupiter, including photographs of the Amptek A121 in place, click here.

New Horizons Continues Making Headlines

July 17, 2015 – Images and data from New Horizon’s historic fly-by of Pluto continue to capture the attention of the public, as revelations about the dwarf planet’s surface yield unprecedented insight into the farthest reaches of our galaxy.  Learn more about the spacecraft’s payload at the New Horizon’s website.

Pluto as seen from the New Horizons spacecraft
Pluto as seen from the New Horizons spacecraft

Amptek Congratulates New Horizons on Reaching Pluto

June 23, 2015 – NASA has begun holding weekly media briefings in preparation for the New Horizons flyby of the Pluto on July 14, 2015.  This will mark the first time our planet has sent a spacecraft to Pluto and the mysterious Kuiper Belt (a relic of solar system formation), where the seven on-board instruments will study surface properties, geology, interior makeup, atmospheres, and other parameters.  Amptek is pleased to have supplied our A121 Charge Sensitive Preamplifiers for use in the SWAP (Solar Wind Around Pluto) instrument.

New Horizons Pluto

Congratulations to Magnetosphereic Multiscale Spacecraft (MMS)

March 13, 2015 – NASA’s four spacecraft associated with the MMS mission successfully reached orbit, and will deploy booms and antennas over the next few weeks to test instruments and prepare for their mission, expected to begin later this year.  The four spacecraft will fly in a close formation, and are expected to provide us with our 3D first views of the phenomenon known as magnetic reconnection.  Amptek is proud to have provided the HV801 High Voltage Optocouplers and A121 Charge Sensitive Preamplifiers for this mission.


Congratulations to Rosetta

November 12, 2014 – The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft successfully landed its Philae probe on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.  “Our ambitious Rosetta mission has secured a place in the history books: not only is it the first to rendezvous with and orbit a comet, but it is now also the first to deliver a lander to a comet’s surface,” noted Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s Director General.  Amptek is proud to have provided the radiation hard hybrid preamplifiers and high voltage opto-couplers for this mission.


AMETEK Acquires Amptek (August 4, 2014)

— Broadens Materials Analysis Capabilities —

Berwyn, PA, August 4, 2014 — AMETEK, Inc. (NYSE: AME) today announced that it has acquired Amptek, Inc., a leading manufacturer of instrumentation and detectors used in non-destructive materials analysis applications. The privately held manufacturer, headquartered in Bedford, MA, has annual sales of approximately $30 million.

Amptek is a leader in X-ray detectors used in portable and laboratory instrumentation utilizing X-ray fluorescence (XRF), electronics for nuclear and spaceflight instruments, and gamma-ray detectors for Homeland Security and nuclear emissions monitoring.

“Amptek is an excellent addition to our materials analysis businesses. Its products and technology nicely complement our existing materials analysis capabilities. They also expand our presence into a number of attractive market segments including bench top and life sciences applications,” comments Frank S. Hermance, AMETEK Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

“Amptek provides us with attractive sensor and detector technology as well as strong R&D development capabilities which will help to accelerate future technology developments for our served markets,” adds Mr. Hermance.

Amptek joins AMETEK as unit of its Materials Analysis Division within AMETEK’s Electronic Instruments Group (EIG) — a recognized leader in advanced monitoring, testing, calibrating, and display instruments with 2013 sales of $2.0 billion.

Click here for the full press release

Amptek Announces the TB-5 Digital Tube Base (October 15, 2013)

The TB-5 Digital Tube Base contains all the electronics needed for high performance spectroscopy with your scintillator and photomultiplier tube (PMT). It contains a preamplifier, a full-featured digital pulse processor with MCA, a high-voltage power supply, and all low voltage power supplies. It can be controlled and powered over USB or Ethernet (PoE). The TB-5’s auxiliary interfaces and flexible architecture can be easily tailored for specific applications and advanced data acquisition options. It is all packaged in a low power, compact tube base.

TB-5 PMT Digital Tube Base for Gamma Spectroscopy

MAVEN Mission to Mars (November 18, 2012)

An Atlas V lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to send the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, spacecraft on its way to study the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere. Scientists expect data gathered during the MAVEN mission to help explain how Mars’ climate has changed over time due to the loss of atmospheric gases.


Amptek is proud to have supplied numerous hybrid preamplifiers and high voltage optocouplers for this mission including the A250, A111, A121, and HV801.

Amptek Announces the MCA-8000D Digital MultiChannel Analyzer (MCA) (November 12, 2012)

The newly introduced MCA-8000D is a state-of-the-art, compact, high performance, digital MultiChannel Analyzer (MCA). Superior performance is obtained from a high speed ADC (a 100 MHz 16 bit ADC) and sophisticated digital logic. The MCA8000D digitizes the input signal (the output of an analog shaping amplifier) to measure the pulse height and obtain the pulse height spectrum. The high speed ADC, with a 10 ns conversion time, reduces dead time thus increasing throughput. The digital circuitry yields high accuracy and stability.

MCA-8000D Digital Multichannel Analyzer (MCA)

The MCA-8000D includes three interfaces, USB (USB 2.0 full speed), RS-232 (up to 115 kB), and Ethernet (10base-T). The MCA-8000D can be powered over USB or with an external AC/DC power supply.

Amptek Announces the PX5-HPGe Digital Pulse Processor, MCA, and Power Supply for Germanium Detectors (October 1, 2012)

Amptek’s PX5-HPGe combines a high performance digital pulse processor with the power supplies needed for standard cryogenic HPGe detectors. It replaces a conventional shaping amplifier and multichannel analyzer, providing very high performance signal processing in a single compact, low power module, replacing multiple bulky NIM modules in a traditional solution. The digital signal processing provides several advantages over analog solutions: lower electronic noise, reduced ballistic deficit, higher throughput, enhanced stability, and more configuration options to better optimize the system for particular applications. It supports USB, Ethernet, and RS232 communications protocols and has numerous auxiliary I/O options (MCS mode, 8 SCAs, a gate input for Compton suppression, etc).

Amptek PX5-HPGe

Advance Product Announcement: FAST SDD (March 12, 2012)

Amptek announces the next generation Silicon Drift Detector (SDD) – The FAST SDD

Resolution vs. Peaking Time for Amptek SDD and FAST SDD

Throughput for the FAST SDD

The figures above compare the standard Amptek SUPER SDD with the new SUPER FAST SDD. The noise corner of the new detector is at 1 µs peaking time vs. >10 µs for the standard unit. That’s x10 the throughput with no loss of resolution!

Amptek Congratulates JUNO on a Successful Launch (August 5, 2011)


Juno is on its way to Jupiter! The Atlas V lifted off at 12:25 p.m. Juno’s principal goal is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter. Underneath its dense cloud cover, Jupiter safeguards secrets to the fundamental processes and conditions that governed our solar system during its formation. As our primary example of a giant planet, Jupiter can also provide critical knowledge for understanding the planetary systems being discovered around other stars.

Amptek is proud to have supplied hybrid electronics and high voltage optocouplers for this mission.

Amptek Congratulates Messenger on Mercury Orbit Insertion (March 18, 2011)

On March 18, 2011, the Messenger spacecraft became the first or orbit the planet Mercury. Amptek is proud to be part of the mission, supplying hyrbid preamplifiers for the various scientific instruments on board.

Instrument Description.

The Energetic Particle Spectrometer EPPS/EPS. There are 24 A250F preamplifiers circling the detector. Photo courtesy of Johns Hopkins Univsersity.



Amptek Announces the PX5 Enhanced Laboratory Digital Pulse Processor, MCA, and Power Supply (March 14, 2011)

Amptek PX5 Digital Pulse Processor, Front ViewFeatures

  • Single unit compatible with all Amptek SDD, Si-PIN, and CdTe detectors
  • Includes
    • Digital pulse shaping amplifier
    • Integrated multichannel analyzer
    • Power supplies
  • Supports detectors from other manufacturers, and both reset and feedback preamplifiers of either polarity
  • Trapezoidal, and new Cusp shaping with wide range of peaking times to optimize performance
  • High count rate capability with excellent baseline stability, throughput, and pile-up rejection
  • Up to 8k output MCA channels
  • Oscilloscope mode – DAC output for pulse monitoring and adjustment
  • 8 single channel analyzer outputs

Amptek Announces New Low Energy “C Series” X-Ray Windows (March 7, 2011)

Amptek Inc has introduced a new series of low energy X-ray windows for XRF. The new “C Series” X-ray windows are new technology that extend the low energy response of the Amptek Super SDD down to Carbon (C). These windows can be used in SEMs, benchtops, or hand-held analyzers.

Amptek provided an alternative to liquid nitrogen when it introduced the first thermoelectrically cooled detector. Now with the C Series, Amptek provides an alternative to the Beryllium (Be) window.

Amptek Advance Product Announcement (October 1, 2009)

New Silicon Drift Detector (SDD)!
25 mm2 x 500 µm

55fe spectrum taken with amptek silicon drift detector
55Fe Spectrum with 25 mm2 x 500 µm silicon drift detector (SDD).


  • 125 eV FWHM Resolution @ 5.9 keV
  • High Peak-to-Background Ratio – 20000:1
  • 25 mm2 x 500 µm
  • No Liquid Nitrogen

Congratulations to the Mars Phoenix! (May 25, 2008)

May 25, 2008 — NASA’s Phoenix spacecraft landed in the northern polar region of Mars today to begin three months of examining a site chosen for its likelihood of having frozen water within reach of the lander’s robotic arm. Radio signals received at 4:53:44 p.m. Pacific Time (7:53:44 p.m. Eastern Time) confirmed the Phoenix Mars Lander had survived its difficult final descent and touchdown 15 minutes earlier. The signals took that long to travel from Mars to Earth at the speed of light. Amptek is proud to be part of this mission by supplying hybrid preamplifiers, shaping amplifiers, and other front-end electronics.

Photo of Phoenix on Mars.

Amptek Salutes MESSENGER On Its First Mercury Flyby! (January 14, 2008)

Today, MESSENGER will experience its closest approach to Mercury, passing just 200 kilometers (124 miles) above the planet’s surface. MESSENGER will begin to transmit the new data to Earth once all of the scientific measurements are completed, about 22 hours after the spacecraft’s closest approach to Mercury. These flyby data will shed light on fundamental scientific questions related to the formation and evolution of the planet Mercury. As scientists analyze the data, the MESSENGER spacecraft will continue on its planned journey, which includes two more encounters of Mercury in October 2008 and September 2009, before entering an orbit around Mercury in March 2011. Amptek is proud to be part of this mission by supplying hybrid preamplifiers, shaping amplifiers, and other front-end electronics.

Photo of Mercury taken by MESSENGER on 1/13/08 on its first approach to the planet.

MESSENGER home page.

Amptek Congratulates DAWN! (9/27/07)

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is on its way to study a pair of asteroids after lifting off Thursday from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 7:34 a.m. EDT. Dawn’s 4.8-billion-kilometer (3-billion-mile) odyssey includes exploration of asteroid Vesta in 2011 and the dwarf planet Ceres in 2015. These two icons of the asteroid belt have been witness to much of our solar system’s history. By using Dawn’s instruments to study both asteroids, scientists more accurately can compare and contrast the two. Dawn’s science instrument suite will measure elemental and mineral composition, shape, surface topography, and tectonic history, and will also seek water-bearing minerals. In addition, the Dawn spacecraft and how it orbits Vesta and Ceres will be used to measure the celestial bodies’ masses and gravity fields. Amptek if proud to be part of this mission by supplying hybrid preamplifiers!


Click to visit NASA’s DAWN site.

Amptek Announces Silicon Drift Detector (SDD)! (7/15/07)

The XR-100SDD Silicon Drift Detector (SDD) is Amptek’s latest addition to its line of x-ray detectors that revolutionized the industry. Its high performance, small size, and low cost make it the ideal detector for OEM hand-help applications to bench-top analyzers. The silicon drift detector (SDD) enables extremely high count rate applications with excellent energy resolution. The detector is housed inside the same TO-8 package as Amptek’s other detectors, so its form-factor is a direct replacement for current systems.

Amptek Congratulates THEMIS! (2/17/07)

NASA launched the five THEMIS satellites aboard a single Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on 2/17/07. The THEMIS satellites will soon disperse around Earth to monitor auroras like the Northern Lights. NASA is undertaking the mission to investigate what causes auroras in the Earth’s atmosphere to change in appearance and dissipate. Discovering why the light of auroras can fluctuate and fade will provide scientists with important details on how the planet’s protective magnetosphere works and on the sun-Earth connection.

Amptek is proud to be part of the THEMIS team, and honored to supply hybrid preamplifiers to the mission.


THEMIS missions home page.

Amptek Salutes STEREO! (10/26/06)

STEREO lifted off at 8:52 pm EDT from Cape Canveral Air Force Station, FL. The twin spacecraft will investigate the origins of special solar storms erupting from the sun. Amptek is proud to be part of this mission by supplying hybrid premplifiers and electronics.

STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) is the third mission in NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Probes program (STP). This two-year mission will employ two nearly identical space-based observatories – one ahead of Earth in its orbit, the other trailing behind – to provide the first-ever stereoscopic measurements to study the Sun and the nature of its coronal mass ejections, or CMEs.


Congratulations to the STEREO Team! Click here for the STEREO homepage.

Amptek Announces the X-123, a Complete X-Ray Spectrometer (6/22/05)

Amptek announced the X-123 today, a complete x-ray spectrometer. This compact, low power, high performance module is the culmination of 14 years of X-ray detector development at Amptek. All that is needed is a 5 Volts DC input and a USB or RS232 connection to a computer.

X-123 X-Ray Detector System
2.7 x 3.9 x 1 in (7 x 10 x 2.5 cm)

Amptek Preamplifiers Heading To Mercury! (8/3/2004)

The Messenger spacecraft was successfully launched on 8/3/2004. Messenger is a scientific investigation of the planet Mercury. Its journey will take 7 years. Amptek charge sensitive preamplifiers and front-end electronics are used throughout Messenger’s scientific payload.

Messenger Home Page

Amptek Preamplifiers Arrive at Saturn On-Board Cassini! (7/2004)


The international Cassini-Huygens mission has successfully entered orbit around Saturn! After a 7 year journey, Cassini will begin its scientific exploration of Saturn. On-board are Amptek charge sensitive premplifiers and electronics!

Amptek Announces Its 4th Generation XR-100CR X-Ray Detector (5/2004)

The innovation continues at 149 eV FWHM!

  • 6mm2 Area
  • 500µm Thick
  • 2-Stage Thermoelectric Cooler
  • Internal Multi-Layer

Click here for more information.

Rosetta Spacecraft launched successfully on March 2, 2004!

The Rosetta spacecraft, now on its way to Comet 67 P/Churyumov- Gerasimenko, will be the first ever to orbit and drop a lander on a comet. The 3000 kg spacecraft will study the origin of comets, the relationship between cometary and interstellar material and its implications with regard to the origin of the Solar System. On its 10 year journey to the comet, the spacecraft will hopefully pass by at least one asteroid. Rosetta has a complex trajectory including three Earth and one Mars gravity assist maneuver before finally reaching the comet. On arrival at 67P Rosetta will enter orbit around the comet and stay with it as it journeys in towards the Sun.


Amptek is proud to have provided the Radiation Hard Hybrid Preamplifiers and High Voltage Opto-Couplers for this mission.

Rosetta Home Page

Descriptive article on Rosetta

Amptek Preamplifiers Land on Mars onboard the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit! (1/3/04)
And onboard the Opportunity! (1/24/04)

Amptek charge sensitive preamplifiers land on Mars on January 3 and 24, 2004. Amptek salutes the Spirit/Opportunity team for a successful trip and landing and is proud to be part of this mission. Amptek’s charge sensitive preamplifiers A250 and A225 are used on the various instruments onboard the Spirit/Opportunity.

This is the second and third trip to Mars for Amptek technology. The first was the Pathfinder mission in 1997.


Mars Exloration Rover Home Page

SSJ5 Successfully Launched and Operating on DMSP (10/11/03)

The first of five delivered SSJ5 Electrostatic Analyzers (ESA) was successfully launched into orbit onboard the last of the Titan 2 rockets. SSJ5 is integrated into the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) spacecraft (F16) and began its flight at 16:17 on 10/11/03.

The SSJ5 uses a nested spherical deflection plate system to simultaneously analyze electrons and ions over a 90° field of view. It utilizes a space qualified microprocessor that permits customizing data rates, measurement ranges, on board storage, and specific analysis algorithms, such as Auroral boundary detection or real time charging measurements.

Click here for launch article.

Titan 2 Launch on 10/18/03
First on-orbit data from SSJ5

Amptek Salutes Galileo! (9/22/03)

galihybAmptek preamplifiers vaporized on Sunday, September 21, 2003 on board the GALILEO spacecraft as it plunged into the Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere at 2:57 p.m. EST. This sacrifice of the 3,000-pound, $1.5 billion spacecraft was purposely made by NASA in order to avoid collision with Europa and contaminate it with any Earth germs. Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, is believed to sustain life.

The GALILEO spacecraft was launched in 1989 from the Space Shuttle Atlantis. It traveled 2.8 billion miles, took over 14,000 images of the Jovian system and other planets. It recorded the impact of comet Shoemaker-Levy with Jupiter, deployed a probe to measure Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere, and discovered ice cover and salt water beneath the surface of Europa.

Amptek congratulates the managers, scientists and engineers worldwide who worked on the GALILEO MISSION and is proud to have contributed our preamplifier technology to several instruments that made scientific discoveries to enrich man’s knowledge of the chemical and physical composition of Jupiter and its satellites.

Amptek preamplifiers were used in the Ultraviolet Spectrometer, Extreme Ultraviolet Spectrometer, and the Plasma Subsystem instruments.
Galileo Home Page

COOL-X Selected for 2003 R&D 100 Award (7/2/03)

The Amptek COOL-X X-Ray Generator has been selected for the R&D 100 Award by the independent judging panel and editors of R&D Magazine as one of the year’s most technologically significant products (July, 2003).

The COOL-X is a novel, miniature X-ray generator which uses a pyroelectric crystal to generate electrons that produce X-rays in the target material (Cu). The hermetically sealed package has a thin beryllium window which allows the X-rays to be transmitted. The COOL-X does not use radioisotopes or high power X-ray tubes. It is a self contained, solid state system which generates X-rays when the crystal is thermally cycled.

 coolx_15R&D 100 Logo

Mars Express/Beagle 2 en route to Red Planet (6/2/03)

ESA PR 36-2003. The European Mars Express space probe has been placed successfully in a trajectory that will take it beyond the terrestrial environment and on the way to Mars getting there in late December. This first European Space Agency probe to head for another planet will enter an orbit around Mars, from where it will perform detailed studies of the planet’s surface, its subsurface structures and its atmosphere. It will also deploy Beagle 2, a small autonomous station which will land on the planet, studying its surface and looking for possible signs of life, past or present.


Beagle 2 Home Page
ESA Mars Express

Credit: ESA

The Beagle 2 is equipped with the Amptek XR-100 x-ray detector, the A250 charge sensitive preamplifier, and the A275 shaping amplifier.

Amptek Announces the PX4 – Digital Pulse Processor and Power Supply (5/30/03)

The Amptek PX4 is an interface between Amptek’s XR100 series of X-ray and gamma-ray detectors and a personal computer with data acquisition, control, and analysis software. The PX4 includes three major components: (1) a shaping amplifier, based on a state of the art, high performance, low power DP4 digital pulse processor, (2) a multichannel analyzer, and (3) power supplies. It replaces both the previous generation PX2 shaping amplifier and power supply and the separate MCA.

Amptek Announces the A250CF “CoolFET” Charge Sensitive Preamplifier (5/29/03)

The Amptek A250CF “Cool FET” Charge Sensitive Preamplifier is the lowest noise, general purpose, preamplifier available. It is designed to give the ultimate performance when used with either low or high detector capacitance detectors and is a direct replacement for other higher noise charge sensitive preamplifiers. The A250CF “Cool FET” technology uses a Peltier cooler to keep the input FET(s) at -50 °C. Cooling is totally transparent to the user. The A250CF “CoolFET” will be available in the summer of 2003.

Amptek Announces the COOL-X X-Ray Generator with Pyroelectric Crystal (5/17/02)

coolx_15The COOL-X is a novel, miniature X-ray generator which uses a pyroelectric crystal to generate electrons that produce X-rays in the target material (Cu). The hermetically sealed package has a thin beryllium window which allows the X-rays to be transmitted. The COOL-X does not use radioisotopes or high power X-ray tubes. It is a self contained, solid state system which generates X-rays when the crystal is thermally cycled.


  • Miniature size: 0.6″ dia x 0.4″ (15 mm dia x 10 mm)
  • Low power: < 300 mW
  • Runs on standard 9 V battery
  • Variable end point energy: up to 35 kV
  • Peak x-ray flux: 108 photons per second (equivalent to a 2 mCi source)
  • Solid state: Pyroelectric crystal
  • No radioactive sources

Amptek announces its Digital Pulse Processor (11/07/01)

The DP4 Digital Pulse Processor from OEM applications features variable shaping times and replaces both the shaping amplifier and MCA.


  • Low Power: 600 mW
  • Fast: >1,000,000 CPS
  • Small Size: 3.5 in X 2.5 in
  • Replaces both Shaping Amplifier and MCA
  • Triangular response for better noise performance
  • Trapezoidal response for ballistic deficit elimination
  • Adjustable pulse peaking time from 800 ns to 200 µs
  • Adjustable flat top duration
  • Digital pile-up rejection
  • 4k output MCA channels
  • RS232 or USB interface
  • DAC output for pulse monitoring and adjustment

CEASE II Launched on DSP (8/6/01)

A CEASE II instrument was successfully launched onboard the US Air Force DSP operational spacecraft into a geosynchronous (GEO) orbit! The initial on-orbit checkout has shown excellent performance, measuring solar proton events, outer zone electron populations, and injections of lower energy particles. The instrument launched on DSP is the first to incorporate an electrostatic analyzer for improved measurements of the particles which cause surface charging in GEO orbit. The CEASE II launch on DSP is the third successful launch and turn-on of a CEASE.

CEASE is a small, low power instrument that provides spacecraft operators with fully processed, real time, in situ measurements and autonomously generated warnings of the space radiation environment threats.

Space Radiation Alarm (CEASE) to Fly on Spacebus 4000 Satellites (7/2001)

Amptek Inc. announced today that they would provide four CEASE II Space Radiation Alarm Sensors for integration into Spacebus 4000 satellites being constructed by Alcatel Space for GE Americom communication satellites.

CEASE is designed for use on all satellite systems, such as those for communications, military, environmental, imaging, and scientific exploration. The agreement with Alcatel Space and GE Americom is the first commercial mission for Amptek’s Space Radiation Alarm.

XR-100 Lands on Eros on-board the NEAR spacecraft! (2/13/01)

eros2The NEAR mission, launched on 2/17/96, met its end yesterday when it landed successfully on Eros. The spacecraft spent the last year orbiting, photographing, and analyzing the asteroid. When it completed its primary objective, it was decided to try and land the spacecraft on the asteroid. NEAR, designed to be an orbiter not a lander, landed at a smooth 4 mph. The Amptek XR-100 X-Ray Detector, employed as the X-Ray Solar Monitor, provided the XGRS instrument on-board NEAR with a high-resolution incident solar x-ray spectrum. This is the second XR-100 to land on an extraterrestrial body (the other now resting on the surface of Mars).

NEAR Home Page


CEASE Launched on Ariane 5 Rocket (11/16/00)

strvAt 8:07 pm yesterday the STRV-1C spacecraft carrying CEASE was successfully launched on an Ariane 5 rocket from the Koiou launch facility in French Guyana. The launch authority, Arianespace, reported that both of DERA’s Space Technology Research Vehicles (STRV 1 c&d) had separated successfully from the rocket 34 minutes after launch as planned. The 100 kg micro-satellites carry a suite of environmental monitors which will give comprehensive radiation measurements, assess atomic oxygen and electrostatic charging effects, and detect cosmic dust and ionospheric anomalies. STRV-1C will travel through the harsh space environment of the geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO). This is the second CEASE instrument launched this year.

CEASE is a small, low power instrument that provides spacecraft operators with fully processed, real time, in situ measurements and autonomously generated warnings of the space radiation environment threats.

XR-100CR Analyzes the Gold Ibex in Greece (11/15/00)

At the request of the Thera Foundation, the XR-100CR journeyed to Santorini, Greece to analyze the recently found Gold Ibex at the Akrotiri archaeological site. This artifact is unique in that it is the only object found at the site made of a precious metal.


DIDM Successfully Launched and Operating on the CHAMP Mission! (7/26/00)


The DIDM (Digital Ion Drift Meter) instrument was launched on the CHAMP spacecraft on July 15, 2000 at 13h 59 min 59.628 sec MET from the Plesetzk launch range in Russia. DIDM was successfully powered-on at 4:23 EDT (8:23 UTC) Monday morning (7/24/00). The High Voltage was turned on Wednesday (7/26/00) and all is well with the instrument.

Digital Ion Drift Meter (DIDM) instruments are designed to measure the velocity vectors of ambient ions at a spacecraft’s location.

CHAMP Mission Home Page


CLUSTER II Spacecrafts Successfully Launched! (7/16/00)


Congratulations for the launch of the CLUSTER II mission. Amptek wishes to thank all of the experimenters in the CLUSTER Mission for their trust in using our preamplifiers. CLUSTER uses the following Amptek preamps: A101, A111, A121, A225, A250, A275, A150.


CEASE Successfully Launched and Operating on TSX-5! (6/8/00)

cease_p1Amptek, Inc. announced today that its space radiation sensor CEASE is in excellent health on board the U.S. Air Force TSX-5 spacecraft. The Tri-Service Experiment 5 spacecraft was launched on June 7, 2000, on a Pegasus rocket. The CEASE experiment was turned on the next day and immediately began measurements of the space radiation environment. Based on the initial data received, CEASE is performing as expected.

CEASE is a small, low power instrument that provides operators with fully processed, real time, in situ measurements and autonomously generated warnings of the space radiation environment threats.

Initial flight data clearly showed the expected signature of the radiation belts. Fortuitously, CEASE was turned on during a strong geomagnetic storm (category G3). The effects of this storm can be seen in CEASE’s measurements.

XR-100T Lands on Mars on the Pathfinder Mission! (7/4/97)

On July 4, 1997, the Amptek XR-100 X-Ray Detector landed on Mars. For its unique design and reliability, this detector was selected for the Pathfinder Mission and placed on the Sojourner arm to perform rock and soil analysis using x-ray fluorescence techniques.


The Alpha Proton X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) onboard the Mars Pathfinder micro-rover is designed to provide a complete detailed chemical analysis of Martian soil and rocks. The Amptek XR-100T X-Ray Detector with the A250 Charge Sensitive Preamplifier provides the APXS with x-ray fluorescence capability.

Here is the first rock spectrum from Mars!

Courtesy of the University of Chicago.

XR100 Receives the R&D100 Award (1994)

rd100For the development of the XR-100 X-Ray Detector, Amptek was honored by R & D Magazine to receive the coveted “R & D 100 Award” for 1994, as one of the year’s most technologically significant products. The XR-100, high resolution x-ray detector, combines a thermoelectrically cooled silicon PIN-Photodiode with an Amptek A250 Charge Sensitive Preamplifier. The unique, all solid state design of the XR-100 eliminates the need to use liquid nitrogen to cool the detector.