lucid

Langton Ultimate Cosmic ray Intensity Detector

“LUCID is not just an educational experiment, it will be the UK’s latest space facility. LUCID’s research-quality data will be of direct interest and use to the wider science community, allowing students to engage in real research, studying the basic physics of how space weather works.”

Dr Jonathan Eastwood, Lecturer in Space and Atmospheric Physics, Imperial College

Langton Ultimate Cosmic ray Intensity Detector is a new style cosmic ray detector which applies detector technology from the Large Hadron Collider to the Space Environment. Surrey Satellite Technology Limited has developed the student design in collaboration with successive years of students and scientists at CERN. LUCID will launch on TechDemoSat-1 from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan on a Soyuz rocket in July 2014. Click here for more information.

The project provides inspiration to the next generation of physicists and engineers. The data obtained from LUCID is of interest to the Space Weather community and NASA.

LUCID applies detector technology from the Large Hadron Collider to the Space Environment. Surrey Satellite Technology Limited has developed the student design in collaboration with successive years of students and scientists at CERN. The device uses Timepix chips from the Medipix Collaboration.

Background

In 2007, sixth form students from the school, following a visit to CERN, suggested the use of CERN Medipix detector chips in a cosmic ray detector for a space experiment competition run by the British National Space Centre, which has since become the UK Space Agency. Surrey Satellite Technology Limited has developed the students’ original design in collaboration with the students, CERN scientists and engineers from the Medipix collaboration, including those from NASA and those from the Czech Technical University in Prague.

Opportunities

The new data from the detector in space will be made accessible to all schools via the web, with guidance and help so they can investigate it. This ushers in a new set of opportunities for school students to be involved in fundamental space science research. This national programme has been supported by a grant from the Science and Technology Facilities Council, STFC.

So much of our communications network including mobile phones for example, relies on satellite communications. LUCID will provide a more detailed understanding of the types and energies of particles hitting satellites in low Earth orbit at about 635 km up.

This basic research will benefit society, especially when members of society plan to venture out into space themselves!

LUCID will fly on TecDemoSat-1 which is funded by the Technology Strategy Board, TSB and built by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, SSTL. TechDemoSat-1 is planned to fly in a polar orbit for three years after launch.

Students

The original six people in the LUCID team are now all doing research or working having finished their degrees. The current LUCID leader Matt Harrison says ‘ we are organised to process the data when it comes down to school. We have two full days of data collection in an eight day cycle so we should see a huge number of frames where particles are detected by LUCID. We will be excited to be analysing results and sharing this new data with the Space Weather community and with NASA.’