Balloon-based experiment to measure gamma rays 6,500 light years distant

Sep 16, 2011
The Crab Nebula. Photo courtesy of NASA

Beginning Sunday, September 18, 2011 at NASA's launch facility in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, space scientists from the University of New Hampshire will attempt to send a balloon up to 130,000 feet with a one-ton instrument payload to measure gamma rays from the Crab Pulsar, the remains of a supernova explosion that lies 6,500 light years from Earth. The launch is highly dependent on weather and wind conditions, and the launch window closes at the end of next week.

The Gamma Ray Polarimeter Experiment (GRAPE), which was designed and built at the Space Science Center within the UNH Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space (EOS), is an effort to apply a new type of detector technology to the study of celestial gamma rays.

Specifically, the goal of the GRAPE project is to study the polarization of gamma rays from celestial sources. "Polarized" radiation vibrates in a , and the extent of that polarization can provide clues to how the radiation was generated, in essence serving as a probe of the source.

Gamma rays, such as those emitted from the Crab Pulsar, are generally produced from the interactions of a highly accelerated beam of – massive ejections of high-energy particles that are thought to take the form of a narrow jet moving outward at nearly the speed of light.

"We think that an accelerated beam of particles is the source of the high-energy radiation from the Crab Pulsar, but the structure of that beam and the mechanism by which the radiation is generated is not entirely clear," says mission lead scientist Mark McConnell, a professor in the SSC and chair of the UNH department of physics.

Detecting gamma-ray polarization can provide astrophysicists with a better understanding of particle acceleration, a ubiquitous and important but poorly understood process that generates radiation and occurs throughout the universe – from Earth's magnetic field (magnetosphere) to pulsars and black holes.

The New Mexico-based flight, which could last as long as 40 hours, is not designed to reach the ultimate goal of the project – to study gamma-ray bursts. Achieving that will require a follow-up flight over Antarctica where the balloon, due to circumpolar winds that occur between December-January, would circle the pole for 30 to 40 days.

Says McConnell, "To study the gamma-ray burst phenomena we need much more time because they occur randomly in the sky at a rate of about once per day and last at most a couple of minutes. So a long flight will be required to measure a number of bursts."

However, McConnell notes, a successful, short-duration demonstration flight should provide the best measurements of the of emanating from the Crab Pulsar to date because of the sophistication of the instrumentation – the "polarimeter" detectors developed at UNH – capable of making the difficult measurement.

The GRAPE balloon payload shown during a power-up compatibility test on September 13 at the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Ft. Sumner, NM. The larger vessel contains the GRAPE instrument. The smaller vessel on the right houses the FACTEL test instrument. Photo by Mark McConnell, UNH-EOS.

"We should be doing some very useful science on the Crab Pulsar during this flight and we only need 24 hours to do that," he says.

The concept of GRAPE has been developed at the SSC over the last 15 years and in 2007 the first small-scale demonstration balloon flight took place using a single polarimeter to prove the concept. In its current incarnation, GRAPE uses 16 polarimeters designed and built at the SSC. For a full-scale flight over Antarctica, 32 of the detectors will be used to monitor the sky for radiation from gamma-ray bursts and solar flares.

The upcoming GRAPE flight will also serve as an engineering test for two other UNH experiments that will piggyback a ride on the balloon. The Fast Compton Telescope, or FACTEL, will be flown to see how well it handles the radiation environment at high altitudes in order to assess its design.

FACTEL (an effort led by UNH physics professor Jim Ryan) is based on work SSC scientists and engineers did in helping build the Imaging Compton Telescope (COMPTEL) onboard the 17-ton Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO) that was put orbit in 1991. FACTEL represents an effort to demonstrate the latest technologies required to produce an upgraded version of COMPTEL, which should be vastly more efficient and produce much sharper imagery.

A second engineering test being performed on this flight, led by research assistant professor Peter Bloser, involves a new type of detector technology known as silicon photomultipliers. These devices are used to read out signals generated by radiation detectors. This represents a new technology that may prove valuable for many space applications.

High-altitude balloons, with a volume of up to 30 million cubic feet (large enough to contain a football field) have been used to carry NASA experiments to the edge of space for more than 50 years. They provide a vastly cheaper and less time-consuming approach than satellite-based missions and afford an excellent opportunity for student research projects. Three physics graduate students are working on the current flight as part of their Ph.D. studies and several undergraduate students have also been involved in the preparations.

Explore further: Red moon at night; stargazer's delight

More information: The launch can be viewed via a NASA live feed at www.ustream.tv/channel/csbf-operations

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User comments : 18

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Jeddy_Mctedder
2 / 5 (4) Sep 16, 2011
i still can't understand why rockoon's dont' work. is there not a HUGE advantage of launching a rocket with a micro cube sat ---from 130,000 feet??????

no atmosphere...constant weather conditions ( you can launch at THE gravitationally optimal moment from any equatorial location in the world. )

yes 20 miles higher into a 300 mile trip doesn't sound like much , but the first 20 miles constains the most atmosphere and the highest gravity force to fight against, let alone weather constraints on launch timing.
Husky
not rated yet Sep 17, 2011
i'd like to see a hydrogen canon suspended from a high altitude balloon balloon (canoon ?) so that unlike the proposed sea based quicklaunch gun you do away with the atmospheric friction that creates drag and heat
omatumr
1 / 5 (7) Sep 17, 2011
Detecting gamma-ray polarization can provide astrophysicists with a better understanding of particle acceleration, a ubiquitous and important but poorly understood process that generates radiation and occurs throughout the universe from Earth's magnetic field (magnetosphere) to pulsars and black holes.


I agree that radiation coming from compact nuclear matter is one of the most important areas of future study.

The results may confirm or deny the role of neutron repulsion in powering the cosmos:

1."Neutron Repulsion", The APEIRON Journal, in press, (2011)

http://arxiv.org/...2.1499v1

2. "Is the Universe Expanding?", The Journal of Cosmology 13, 4187-4190 (2011)

http://journalofc...102.html
jamesrm
3 / 5 (3) Sep 17, 2011
http://mominer.ms...hildren/

dr-oliver-manuel-arrested-for-multiple-counts-of-rape-and-sodomy-of-his-children
omatumr
1 / 5 (6) Sep 17, 2011
Neutron stars were formerly "estimated to have a binding energy of 10% of their mass" [reference #1, See p.2 of arXiv preprint] .

But each neutron in a neutron star has ~100 MeV more energy [2] than estimated [1] for neutron stars as the dead nuclear embers of ordinary stars.

Each neutron is energized by ~10-22 MeV [2] relative to a free neutron instead of being bound together by ~93 MeV [1]. Thus, in a neutron star,

E (neutron) = +(10-22) MeV [2]
not E (neutron) = -93 MeV [1].

1. H. Heiselberg, Neutron star masses, radii and equation of state, in Proceedings of
the Conference on Compact Stars in the QCD Phase Diagram, eConf C010815,
edited by R. Ouyed and F. Sannion, Copenhagen, Denmark, Nordic Institute for
Theoretical Physics, pp. 3-16 (2002).

http://www.arxiv....?0201465

2. O. Manuel, "Neutron Repulsion", The APEIRON Journal, in press (2011)

http://arxiv.org/...201465v2
omatranter
4 / 5 (8) Sep 17, 2011
Thank you very much for these important findings
My legion of fans know I lost my NASA job because of socialist affirmative action, not my vile private life at all.

This new evidence by totally contradicting everything I have ever believed, only proves that what you believe can be easily changed by new evidence, once again proving that to not just myself but to the increasingly left wing media that all my theories will be found true given enough time and enough posts on various science & pseudoscience forums.

Links to a plethora of my articles supporting my delusions is redundant, you know them all by heart.

As to the FACT that undeniable Global warming is caused by Sasquatch farts & that the Global cooling that is shown in the data is undoubtedly caused by repellent neutrons, I propose a new particle called "ugly" to be the moderator of this repellent scalar field. If the LHC finds a Strange/ugly pair I propose to name it the Omtaranteron & on & on...
yyz
4 / 5 (5) Sep 17, 2011
"...proving that...all my theories will be found true given enough time and enough posts on various science & pseudoscience forums"

Um, so there is not the smallest chance that any facet of your numerous theories are in error(wholly or in part)? Pretty astounding statement for any scientist to make especially in light of these theories conflicting with observations made in the fields of physics, astronomy, cosmochemistry, meteorology, cosmology and lately history!

"My legion of fans..."

Kio?

And still I wonder, why does helioseismology not detect a solar mass neutron star beneath the photosphere OR "a mantle made mostly of Fe, O, Ni, Si, S, Mg and Ca"?
yyz
3.5 / 5 (6) Sep 17, 2011
And thanks in advance, omatranter. ;-)
jsdarkdestruction
2 / 5 (4) Sep 18, 2011
legions of fans? omg, i never laughed so hard in my life.
Ethelred
3.9 / 5 (7) Sep 18, 2011
Where is the evidence that neutrons repel each other in a way that is different from the Pauli Exclusion Principle?

Where is someone, someone remotely competent as opposed to the South African geologist, that supports your idea that the Sun is a pulsar? And how can a pulsar form IF there is such a thing as neutron repulsion?

How could degenerate matter form with that going on considering your contradictory claim that neutron repulsion makes Black Holes impossible despite the math not working for you at all? IF neutron repulsion stops Black Holes of all kinds forming no matter what the mass involved, as you have claimed many times, THEN the neutronium core of Neutron Stars CANNOT form due to that repulsion.

Ethelred
omatranter
5 / 5 (5) Sep 18, 2011
"why does helioseismology not detect a solar mass neutron star beneath the photosphere...?"

Excellent Question
You are under the illusion that the whole of of academia is not funded by the Illuminati sect called the Brandenburg Orchestra (And you thought that were a musical Orchestra rather than trying to ORCHESTRATE one-world government, You need insight like mine to see the truth of such things)
so unless you read the research papers in a mirror with Illuminati glasses (See lady GaGa for the current models, s/he is a sign post to all of the illuminated & will rule as perpetual queen if we aren't vigilant, but I'd tap that in an instant if she were a lot younger).

My brethren we must unite to fight the vicious truths that are promulgated like my lies if we are to stand a chance, gather around me my children (who won't sue) and make world better.

A will be appearing at:
Neutron abhorrents Mandated By Laughable Assertions Conference (NAMBLA)

Oh, & Neutron Repulsion Rules
omatumr
1 / 5 (7) Sep 18, 2011
Threats of nuclear war gave rise to Hippies and to secret agreements among world leaders to endorse the Bilderberg model of a stable H-filled Sun and global climate change as the common enemy to unite nations and promote world peace [1]:

1. "Historical roots of Climategate"

http://en.wikiped..._Mao.jpg

http://dl.dropbox...oots.pdf

http://dl.dropbox...oots.doc

But Earth is heated by a variable star, powered by neutron repulsion in its neutron-rich core. That is why Earth's climate has always changed and life continues to evolve [2]:

2. "Origin and evolution of life"

http://dl.dropbox...5079.pdf

As shown above fanaticism replaced consensus science when errors were found in claims we caused global climate change [3]:

3. Meteorologist Director fired!

www.climategate.c...ekes.pdf

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
jamesrm
3.7 / 5 (6) Sep 18, 2011
Dr Oliver Manuel arrested for multiple counts of rape and sodomy of his children

" Given the Universitys responsibility with respect to the health, safety and welfare of all constituents of the University, including visitors of all ages, to maintain a safe environment, I have concluded that you should no longer be permitted to occupy an office on campus, Floyd wrote in a letter to Manuel dated May 31, 2006."

http://mominer.ms...hildren/
omatumr
1 / 5 (6) Sep 18, 2011
Any diversion will be used to avoid facing experimental evidence that the Bilderberg model of the Sun and the AGW model of Earth's climate are unscientific fiction.
Ethelred
3 / 5 (4) Sep 19, 2011
I see you can't answer Oliver.

What is so difficult about answering questions? Reality have your tongue?

I know why you can't answer the questions. The answer is that you are wrong on neutron repulsion and you have to create a vast conspiracy to protect your tender ego.

Baby steps Oliver.

1] Did you read the letter you linked to?
2] Why did you link to it?
3] What was it supposed to show?
4] Since it doesn't support the claim of conspiracy you need to admit that you were wrong about the link
6] You have the power to admit you could be wrong on this
7] You do not have the power to create a conspiracy where there never was one
8] You should write an apology on all the threads you posted that crap on
9] You should apologize to all the politicians you falsely accused
10] You apologize to all the scientists you accused
11] You should apologize to all the people you gave unwarranted ones to
12] You should promise YOURSELF not to Crank again.

A nice 12 step program

Ethelred
omatumr
1 / 5 (5) Sep 19, 2011
omatranter
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 19, 2011
Ethelred
3 / 5 (4) Sep 19, 2011
I see you can't answer Oliver.

What is so difficult about answering questions? Reality have your tongue?

I know why you can't answer the questions. The answer is that you are wrong on neutron repulsion and you have to create a vast conspiracy to protect your tender ego.

Baby steps Oliver.

1] Did you read the letter you linked to?
2] Why did you link to it?
3] What was it supposed to show?
4] Since it doesn't support the claim of conspiracy you need to admit that you were wrong about the link
6] You have the power to admit you could be wrong on this
7] You do not have the power to create a conspiracy where there never was one
8] You should write an apology on all the threads you posted that crap on
9] You should apologize to all the politicians you falsely accused
10] You apologize to all the scientists you accused
11] You should apologize to all the people you gave unwarranted ones to
12] You should promise YOURSELF not to Crank again.

A nice 12 step program

Ethelred

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