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Physics Without Frontiers teams up with Sussex to bring Cosmic Ray Outreach to Namibia

Two rectangular scintillators were cleaner and glued with optical resin to a triangular light guide and an adaptor, before wrapping up the detector in tin foil,then in black vinyl to ensure light neither leaks from nor into the detectors during operation.

When a cosmic ray induced muon passes through the scintillator, a photon may be emitted. The foil keeps this inside the detector until it exits the end of the light guide.

A Photomultiplier Tube (PMT) was attached to the end of the light guide through an adapter. The PMT takes the photon created by the cosmic muon and multiplies the signal making it strong enough to be carried through cables down to a computer.

The computer is installed in the department's physics lab. The Data Acquisition (DAQ) box then reads out the signal to the software program.

The final step for the team was to put the detectors with attached PMTs into Ski boxes which would protect them from the elements. These were then placed on the roof of the Physics department, about 5 m apart.

On 4 July, during the 2018 African School of Fundamental Physics and Applications (ASP2018), a HiSPARC cosmic ray detector arrived in Namibia. Following the detector were the Physics Without Frontiers Namibia team members Bobby Acharya (Kings College London, ICTP ), Dr Kate Shaw (University of Sussex, ICTP), and Mark Stringer (University of Sussex), who would be working with physics students from the University of Namibia (UNAM), UNAM technologist Eben Tjingaete, and physicist Michael Backes, to assemble and commission the detector before data-taking could commence.

The HiSPARC detectors, created by Nikhef, come in a pair and are mounted on a roof to detect muons that come from cosmic rays. The UNAM students will use them for analysis and also for outreach events with local schools to engage young people with cosmic-ray physics. The Department of Physics at UNAM has faculty members involved in the H.E.S.S. experiment located in the Khomas Highland of Namibia, whose studies are also related to cosmic rays.

The physics departments at UNAM and Sussex who also have the HiSPARC detectors installed, have partnered up to compare data. The analyses are expected to exhibit some differences due to their geography, such as their altitude (UNAM is situated at roughly 1,700 m).

Dr Kate Shaw, lecturer at Sussex said: “It was a wonderful project and we look forward to working with the team at UNAM to analyse and compare results in the coming years”.

By: Justine Charles
Last updated: Friday, 10 August 2018