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Early results from GRBAlpha and VZLUSAT-2

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ŘÍPA Jakub PÁL András OHNO Masanori WERNER Norbert MÉSZÁROS László CSÁK Balázs DAFČÍKOVÁ Marianna DÁNIEL Vladimír DUDÁŠ Juraj FRAJT Marcel HANÁK Peter HUDEC Ján JUNAS Milan KAPUŠ Jakub KASAL Miroslav KOLEDA Martin LASZLO Robert LIPOVSKY Pavol MÜNZ Filip REZENOV Maksim ŠMELKO Miroslav SVOBODA Petr TAKAHASHI Hiromitsu TOPINKA Martin URBANEC Tomáš RIFFALD SOUZA BREUER Jean-Paul Bernhard ENOTO Teruaki FREI Zsolt FUKAZAWA Yasushi GALGÓCZI Gábor HROCH Filip ICHINOHE Yuto KISS László L. MATAKE Hiroto MIZUNO Tsunefumi NAKAZAWA Kazuhiro ODAKA Hirokazu POON Helen UCHIDA Nagomi UCHIDA Yuusuke

Year of publication 2022
Type Article in Proceedings
Conference Proceedings of SPIE, Volume 12181: Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2022: Ultraviolet to Gamma Ray
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Faculty of Science

Keywords gamma-rays; gamma-ray bursts; high-energy astrophysics; nano-satellites; instrumentation; detectors; scintillators; multi-pixel photon counter; low Earth orbit background
Description We present the detector performance and early science results from GRBAlpha, a 1U CubeSat mission, which is a technological pathfinder to a future constellation of nanosatellites monitoring gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). GRBAlpha was launched in March 2021 and operates on a 550 km altitude sun-synchronous orbit. The gamma-ray burst detector onboard GRBAlpha consists of a 75×75×5 mm CsI(Tl) scintillator, read out by a dual-channel multi-pixel photon counter (MPPC) setup. It is sensitive in the ~30-900 keV range. The main goal of GRBAlpha is the in-orbit demonstration of the detector concept, verification of the detector’s lifetime, and measurement of the background level on low-Earth orbit, including regions inside the outer Van Allen radiation belt and in the South Atlantic anomaly. GRBAlpha has already detected five, both long and short, GRBs and two bursts were detected within a time-span of only 8 hours, proving that nanosatellites can be used for routine detection of gamma-ray transients. For one GRB, we were able to obtain a high resolution spectrum and compare it with measurements from the Swift satellite. We find that, due to the variable background, the time fraction of about 67% of the low-Earth polar orbit is suitable for gamma-ray burst detection. One year after launch, the detector performance is good and the degradation of the MPPC photon counters remains at an acceptable level. The same detector system, but double in size, was launched in January 2022 on VZLUSAT-2 (3U CubeSat). It performs well and already detected three GRBs and two solar flares. Here, we present early results from this mission as well.
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