A Balloon-Borne, Advanced Scintillator Compton Telescope with Silicon Photomultiplier Readout

Metadata Updated: November 12, 2020

We propose to continue our development of new medium-energy gamma-ray instrumentation by constructing and flying a balloon-borne Compton telescope using advanced scintillator materials combined with silicon photomultiplier readouts. There is an urgent need in high-energy astronomy for a medium-energy gamma-ray mission covering the energy range from 0.4 - 20 MeV to follow the success of the COMPTEL instrument on CGRO. Judging by the Astro2010 Decadal Survey and subsequent Physics of the Cosmos technology report, such a mission will have to fit within the Explorer Program, or be realizable using a series of ultra-long duration balloon (ULDB) flights, if it is to become reality in the foreseeable future. This in turn will require the use of relatively robust, low-cost, off-the-shelf technologies that can nonetheless achieve at least an order of magnitude improvement in sensitivity over COMPTEL. Fortunately, high-performance scintillators, such as Lanthanum Bromide (LaBr3), Cerium Bromide (CeBr3), and p-terphenyl, and compact readout devices, such as silicon photomultipliers (SiPMs), are already commercially available and capable of meeting this need. In previous work we have demonstrated that a Compton telescope consisting of an organic scintillator scattering layer and a LaBr3 calorimeter effectively rejects background under balloon-flight conditions, using time-of-flight (ToF) discrimination. In separate work, we have shown that the combination of LaBr3 scintillator with a SiPM readout performs well as a gamma-ray spectrometer, and that SiPM readouts can effectively perform pulse-shape discrimination (PSD) using organic scintillators such as stilbene. Finally, through the Gamma-Ray Polarimeter Experiment (GRAPE) balloon program we have flight-validated a balloon gondola suitable for ULDB missions, including rough pointing, aspect determination, and telemetry systems. We now propose to combine these efforts. We will construct an Advanced Scintillator Compton Telescope (ASCOT) with SiPM readout and fly it on an engineering balloon flight from Ft. Sumner, NM. The instrument will be of sufficient scale to image the Crab Nebula in a one-day flight. The results of this work will demonstrate conclusively that the energy, timing, and position resolution of this technology are sufficient to achieve an order of magnitude improvement in sensitivity in the medium-energy gamma-ray band, were it to be applied to a ~1 cubic meter instrument on a ULDB or Explorer platform. Such an instrument would be able to make groundbreaking gamma-ray measurements of bright relativistic particle accelerators, such as galactic black holes, pulsars, solar flares, and gamma-ray bursts.

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Public: This dataset is intended for public access and use. License: No license information was provided. If this work was prepared by an officer or employee of the United States government as part of that person's official duties it is considered a U.S. Government Work.

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Metadata Created Date November 12, 2020
Metadata Updated Date November 12, 2020

Metadata Source

Harvested from NASA Data.json

Additional Metadata

Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Created Date November 12, 2020
Metadata Updated Date November 12, 2020
Publisher Space Technology Mission Directorate
Unique Identifier Unknown
Identifier TECHPORT_18590
Data First Published 2017-12-01
Data Last Modified 2020-01-29
Public Access Level public
Bureau Code 026:00
Metadata Context https://project-open-data.cio.gov/v1.1/schema/catalog.jsonld
Metadata Catalog ID https://data.nasa.gov/data.json
Schema Version https://project-open-data.cio.gov/v1.1/schema
Catalog Describedby https://project-open-data.cio.gov/v1.1/schema/catalog.json
Homepage URL https://techport.nasa.gov/view/18590
Program Code 026:027
Source Datajson Identifier True
Source Hash fa20ddd7faed1e1664cf71921c0a0e07ae25b97e
Source Schema Version 1.1

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