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Center Independent Research & Development: GSFC IRAD

Hard X-ray Photoelectric Polarimeter

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Project Introduction

Our objective is to determine the gas mixtures and pressures that would enable a sensitive, hard X-ray polarimeter using existing flight components with the goal of making astrophysical measurements using the InFOCμS hard X-ray optics on a long duration balloon flight (future proposal following successful demonstration). Photoelectric allows high sensitivity, low systematics polarization measurements, and photoelectric absorption remains the dominant interaction at energies up to 50-100 keV for many intermediate Z absorbers (Figure 1).  NASA and GSFC have made substantial investments in the Time Projection Chamber polarimeter proposed for GEMS and PRAXyS. As PRAXyS was ultimately not selected for flight development, we propose to capture the investment and modify the PRAXyS proto-flight detectors to operate from ~10-50 keV using an Argon based mixture as the active gas.  The broad outline is to measure the characteristics of Argon based mixtures, retrofit the PRAXyS detectors for high pressure operation, and prepare for a balloon flight using the InFocus balloon payload to pave the way to a dedicated mission. 

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Technology Maturity (TRL)

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