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Gamma-ray calibration facility

Laboratory wide dynamic range gamma-ray calibration facility

Measurement of gamma-ray energy

Project duration: 2010 to 2011

Project manager: Martin Kroupa

Cosmic ray consists of many types of radiations and particles. One of them is gamma-ray, which consists of energetic photons. Contrary to well-known X-ray, which has probably everyone encountered in hospitals and which has an origin in the electron cloud surrounding the atomic nucleus, the gamma-ray originates in nucleus itself. By measuring the energy of gamma-ray the elemental analysis can be processed. This is used for example in elemental analysis of planet surface, or to identify the presence of hydrogen which is one of the indicators of presence of water as a carrier of life.

The task of project was to develop an ESA’s reference station to measure and calibrate the equipment prepared for spacecraft used for gamma-ray detection. During the calibration the tested equipment is placed into a well-defined gamma-ray radiation field. The device is calibrated by comparison of measured spectrum with known spectrum of the station. The calibration gamma-ray field is produced by using the process of thermal neutron capture. The spectrum of the station can be chosen by changing the target material. IEAP’s station was built in the frame of the project and is used as a reference calibration standard for equipment used in BepiColombo mission, which will be launched in 2016 when it starts its journey to Mercury.

The project was carried out with ESA grant support No. 22909/09/NL/CBi.

The Institute of Experimental and Applied Physics

IEAP is the research center of the Czech Technical University in Prague (CTU) for applied and fundamental research in experimental physics of the microworld. R&D focuses on advanced instrumentation and new methods with novel applications in biomedical imaging and space. The IEAP CTU has presently over 80 staff members with one fifth of foreigners and many Ph.D. students and young researchers. The institute is equipped with modern facilities such as high-resolution micro-tomography units and widerange gamma-ray source facilities designed and constructed by IEAP teams. The latter facilities serve for calibration of spacecraft instruments including a transportable station for remote onsite measurements at ESA Test Centers. The institute operates also a Van de Graaff accelerator which provides light ion and mono-energetic fast neutron sources for space-related research.

What would you name as main benefits of the project to you and your company?

"The project allowed access to the state-ofthe- art gamma-ray detectors for space and the possibility to upgrade gamma-ray detection setup. The experience gathered during this project is used in next ESA project of a transportable station for onsite tes testing at space Test Centers started in 2012.”