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Center Independent Research & Development: GSFC IRAD

Development of SuperHERO readout electronics

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Development of SuperHERO readout electronics

Next-generation solar hard X-ray (HXR) imagers will make high-sensitivity, high-dynamic-range observations of the signatures of accelerated electrons in solar eruptive events.  Accordingly, their detectors, with associated readout electronics, must meet the requirements of spatial resolution, spectral resolution, and count rates for observing high-energy X-ray emission emitted from accelerated electrons.  We will build off of ongoing development efforts to design readout electronics that can be used in flight.

The SuperHERO balloon mission concept is the next step in solar hard X-ray (~20–80 keV) instrumentation following the successful HEROES balloon mission, which launched in September 2013.  As with HEROES, SuperHERO is a collaboration between GSFC and MSFC, and uses grazing-incidence hard X-ray optics to focus X-rays onto position-sensitive detectors.  HEROES used gas proportional scintillation counters, but the improved angular resolution of the optics on SuperHERO and the scientific benefits of increased effective area and throughput motivates a switch to state-of-the-art pixelated solid-state detectors.

The High Energy X-ray Imaging Technology (HEXITEC) pixelated CdTe detectors developed by the Detector Development Group at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) are uniquely capable of satisfying all the requirements for solar X-ray imaging.  They provide pixel sizes 2x smaller than any other comparable energy-sensitive detectors (250x250 um pixel pitch), have large numbers of pixels per detector (80x80, can be tiled to 160x160), and can handle 10,000 counts per second per pixel while maintaining an energy resolution of ~0.5 keV down to soft X-ray energies of 3 keV.

We are building off of ongoing development efforts to design readout electronics that can be used in flight, such as for SuperHERO.  This effort is the next stage in an ongoing effort to build a hard X-ray detector system that can be used on future sub-orbital or spacecraft missions.  The ongoing development efforts have been funded by the IRAD program in collaboration with MSFC and RAL.  The developed and tested design for the readout electronics design can then be used on the next funded mission (e.g., balloon or sounding rocket instrument).

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