Direct measurement of the cosmic-ray proton spectrum with the CALET on the ISS | 8/19/2015 | Staff
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Exposed Facility of Japanese Experiment Module on the International Space Station. CALET is installed on the port #9. Credit: Adriani et al.

Recent advances in the observation of high-energy radiations, including X-rays and gamma-rays, have unveiled many high-energy aspects of the universe. To achieve a complete understanding of these radiations, however, researchers need to find out more about the high-energy particles (i.e. cosmic rays) that produce them. In fact, non-thermal radiations characterized by the power-law spectrum are all backed by the acceleration and propagation of these rays.

Observation - Rays - Instruments - Earth - Atmosphere

A direct observation of these cosmic rays can only be achieved by placing measuring instruments above all, or most, of the Earth's atmosphere. In addition, as these highest-energy particles are quite rare, studying them requires significantly long observation times. The International Space Station (ISS) is thus an ideal location to collect these observations.

The CALET collaboration, a large team of researchers from several renowned universities worldwide, has developed an instrument that can identify high-energy particles (e.g. electrons, protons and other atomic nuclei) and accurately measure their energy. They then placed this instrument on the ISS and used it to collect a direct measurement of the cosmic-ray proton spectrum. In a recent paper published in Physical Review Letters, the researchers presented the analysis and results of their measurements.

Order - Rays - Rays - Altitude - Atmosphere

"In order to observe cosmic rays, especially galactic cosmic rays, it is necessary to detect them at high altitude where the remaining atmosphere is sufficiently thin," the CALET collaboration told, via email. "For this purpose, many instruments are designed and flown to carry out direct observations for years. As a result, we now have a standard picture of galactic cosmic rays and know that cosmic rays are accelerated by the shock waves in supernova remnants, propagate diffusively through the irregularity of galactic magnetic field, and finally escape from our...
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