Cosmic-ray Shower Detector Focal Plane
The Orbiting Wide-angle Light-collectors (OWL): Observing Cosmic Rays From Space mission is one of the space obervatories in NASA's long range plan. This proposal addresses the need for a detector array to match the several square meter focal plane of the envisaged OWL telescope, while maintaining high optical fill factor, low noise, and exposure times commensurate with the 3.3 us per km velocity and associated short optical pulse characteristics of the cosmic-ray induced fluorescence. Phase I involves systems analysis and conceptual design of a smart pixel array tailored to detect and store these short optical pulses. The cosmic ray shower image data is stored within the pixel for subsequent readout at a moderate data rate. By incorporating discrimination, signal processing, and temporary storage within each pixel, the electronics associated with the cosmic ray shower focal plane can be greatly reduced in weight and power consumption. Such smart-pixel arrays are applicable to both image tube and multi-channel photomultiplier tube readout. In Phase II a prototype of the focal plane detector system would be built and evaluated.
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