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Gannon University's Cosmic-Ray Calorimeter (GU-CRC) (GU-CRC)

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Gannon University's Cosmic-Ray Calorimeter (GU-CRC)
A payload is proposed to detect cosmic rays, high-energy particles of astrophysical origin, in the energy range ~1-100 GeV. An interdisciplinary team of science and engineering undergraduate students at Gannon University, with oversight from two faculty advisors, will complete the payload design, construction, integration, and launch. Energy determination will be facilitated by a six-layer, sampling calorimeter with a thickness of ~12.5 radiation lengths. Primary cosmic rays will interact inside the calorimeter, creating a cascade of secondary particles that will deposit energy in each layer. A charge detector will be employed to distinguish protons from helium nuclei, the two most abundant cosmic ray types. This charge detector will be segmented to minimize charge-measurement contamination from upward-going secondary particles in the calorimeter. The payload will be carried to an altitude of 120,000 ft for a flight duration of 6 hours via the Near Space Corporation's Small Balloon System. Flight data will be used to measure the proton-to-helium ratio as a function of energy, which provides insight into the acceleration and propagation history of cosmic rays. Additionally, student participants will gain invaluable hands-on experience, applying knowledge from the classroom to a rel-life problem. Students will also develop skills in project management, time management, and team work. Finally, providing student with an opportunity to participate in an interesting science and engineering project will encourage them to continue pursuing careers in these fields, which are of crucial importance to both NASA and the nation. More »

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