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Sussex takes cosmic ray detection to the Observatory Science Centre at Herstmonceux

Cosmic ray detector installed at the Science Observatory at Herstmonceux

Dr Salvatore with Mr Antony Gibson and Mr Nathan Bayley from the Department (left to right)

One of the two cosmic ray detectors made of scintillating material

Last week a team of our scientists led by Dr Fabrizio Salvatore and Dr Kate Shaw, installed one of the HiSPARC cosmic ray detectors at the Observatory Science Centre at Herstmonceux. Dr Salvatore, together with Mr Antony Gibson and Mr Nathan Bayley from the Department, installed the detector on Wednesday 23 January, and they are now operational on the roof of the Science Observatory, overlooking the large Astronomy domes visited by thousands of people each year at the observatory. 

HiSPARC is a project in which secondary schools and academic institutions join forces and form a network to measure cosmic rays with extremely high energy. HiSPARC offers students the opportunity to participate in real research, with the purpose of finding out more about these mysterious and rare cosmic particles.

The HiSPARC detector at Herstmonceux is the third such detector that has been installed in East Sussex with the collaboration of scientists from Sussex. One such detector is currently taking data on the roof of our Department, whilst a second one was installed in 2016 on the roof of Cardinal Newman Catholic School (CNCS), Hove. In addition, a fourth detector has been installed at the University of Namibia (UNAM) by a team led by Dr Kate Shaw. The data from all of these detectors, as well as from detectors within the HiSPARC European network, are publicly available to high school and University students that are interested in participating in the HiSPARC project. 

Dr Salvatore and Dr Shaw are now working with teachers and students at CNCS and at UNAM to kick start a collaboration between the two institutes, looking at analysing the data from the detectors installed in these sites and compare results. The results of these analyses will be presented at the Annual HiSPARC Conference, held at Sussex on 1 July 2019. 

Dr Salvatore said: "It is really important for us at the Physics and Astronomy Department to be active in the community and take our research and our passion for physics to local schools and enthuse the next generation of physics students. The HiSPARC project allows high school students to participate actively in real particle physics research, and experience what it means working in collaboration with other scientists from all over the world!"

By: Justine Charles
Last updated: Friday, 25 January 2019