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Development of a demonstrator for the Penetrating Particle Analyser (PAN) technology

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PAN (Development of a demonstrator for the Penetrating Particle Analyser (PAN) technology)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2020-12-31

"The goal of the project is to build a demonstrator (""miniPAN"") for the Penetrating Particle Analyser (PAN), an innovative energetic particle detection technology to precisely measure and monitor the flux and composition of highly penetrating particles (> ~100 MeV/nucleon) in deep space.

The application of PAN is broad and multidisciplinary, covering cosmic ray physics, solar physics, space weather and space travel. PAN will fill an observation gap of galactic cosmic rays in the 100 MeV/nucleon - GeV/nucleon region.

It will provide precise information of the spectrum, composition and timing of energetic particle originated from the Sun, which is essential for studying the physical process of solar activities, in particular the rare but violent solar events that produce intensive flux of energetic particles.

The precise measurement and monitoring of the penetrating particles is also a unique contribution to space weather studies, in particular to the development of predictive space weather models. As indicated by the terminology, penetrating particles cannot be shielded effectively.

PAN can monitor the flux and composition of these particles precisely and continuously, thus providing real-time radiation hazard warning and long term radiation health risk for human space travelers.

Once developed, PAN can become a standard device for deep space human bases and for deep space exploration and commercial spacecrafts, or as part of a space weather advance warning system permanently deployed in space. It can also be implemented on science missions to perform ground-breaking measurements for cosmic-ray physics, solar physics, planetary science and space radiation dosimetry."
"The magnet preliminary studies have been done. They include the development of a simulation model of two sectors, in the configuration of the miniPAN instrument. The model has been compared with measurements done at CERN, on prototype magnets. Thanks to the measurements the specifications for the final magnets have been established, and the order for 5 sectors has been placed in December.

After the definition of the specifications of the silicon strip detectors, the order has been placed. All the sensors have been delivered by November 2020. Mechanical sensors are used to study the detector assembly on the front-end board, the wire bonding procedures, as well as the preliminary vibration tests of the detectors. The X-side readout board has been completely designed. The first boards will be assembled in the beginning of 2021. Functional tests on the board, without the silicon sensor will be done, to make sure the board is working properly. Then the sensors will be mounted and tested, in particular to study the noise properties of the detector and to characterize the detectors with particles from a radioactive source.

For the pixel detector, the goal of the project is the development of modules consisting of 4 Timepix3 pixel detector assemblies in a 2x2 (quad) arrangement. A first version of the PCB has been designed and tested for proper functionality with 4 naked Timepix3 ASICs and a Timepix3 quad bump bonded to a 300 μm thick silicon sensor. The latter prototype has also been studied in a test beam with 36 MeV 3He ions. All the tests were successful. Some minor issues will be addressed in the next iteration of the PCB which will be also adjusted to fit into the baseline mechanical support of miniPAN.

The TOF component identification process has included various activities. Simulation models have been developed to define the type and geometry of scintillators which were more adapted for the project. Various SiPM models have been studied and simulated. Thanks to the simultations, various scintillator and SiPMs have been selected to be tested in laboratory, with radioactive sources and laser pulses. The ASIC models have been chosen: the Triroc ASIC will be used to measure the particle timing and the Citiroc ASIC will be used to measure the energy released by the traversing particle. A final selection on the scintillator type will be done in early 2021.

The architecture for the data handling is defined. The readout will be based on a GPIO board used in various projects of the University of Geneva. And the firmware implementation will start in early 2021, with the readout of the tracker boards. Then the TOF front-end readout will be implemented. The Data Handling Unit will readout the GPIO boards and the Pixel detector. It will be based on a commercial SoC board. Once the readout of all sub-detectors will be successfully implemented, the design of a dedicated board for the MBEE, based on space qualified FPGA, will be studied.

The first elements of the AIV have been defined in 2020. Thanks to the modularity of the structure, space qualification tests (e.g. vibration tests) can be easily done on individual detector modules. Most parts of the instrument are based on technological solutions used in space instruments still in operation today. Thermal studies of the instrument will be done, to optimize the cooling paths of the instrument. Also the mechanical stability of miniPAN will be studied, in particular with finite element analyses. Also, a thermal vacuum test of the full instrument will be organized.

During the first weeks of the project a logo has been created, as well as a web site ( PAN has been presented in various workshops and conferences (ICHEP2020, IAC2020, SPACEMON), and promoted in various projects (NASA's Artemis program, ESA's call ""Exploring the Moon from Large European Lander"", and discussion on the possibility to implement PAN as the ATHENA High Energy Particle Monitor)."
Expected results:
At the end of the project we expect to have the miniPAN instrument fully assembled and functional. The particle detection performance of every sub-component of the instrument will have been carefully verified. Space qualification tests will have been done on every sub-component, and the thermal model of the whole instrument will have been verified. The test results will also be analyzed to improve the miniPAN design, if necessary, giving the base for a future development of the full PAN instrument.

Expected Impact 1: Scientific and technological contributions to the foundation of a new future technology.
PAN aims to develop a new kind of energetic particle detection technology for a broad range of deep space applications. In cosmic ray physics, it allows to perform, for the first time, precise flux and composition measurements of GCRs in the range of 100 MeV/n – 5 GeV/n in deep space.

Expected Impact 2: Potential for future social or economic impact or market creation.
The PAN technology will be of great interest to space instrumentation industries, specifically those providing instrumentation for space weather monitoring and for radiation monitoring, in particular for future deep space travel.
Since today’s social and economic activities rely more and more on global and local networks, which can be interrupted by extreme space weather events, the contribution of the PAN technology to space weather forecasting can potentially have important social and economic impacts.

Expected Impact 3: Building leading research and innovation capacity across Europe by involvement of key actors that can make a difference in the future, for example excellent young researchers, ambitious high- tech SMEs or first-time participants to FET under Horizon 2020.
the pixel detector
the miniPAN instrument
a stripX detector
sketch of the tracker module
a magnet sector under test at CERN
the miniPAN components