British Astronaut Tim Peake blasted off for the International Space Station this week, one of his tasks while in space will be to use a tiny piece of technology, courtesy of NASA, that is part of the CERN@School project – a Timepix detector chip.
Whilst living on board the International Space Station (ISS) astronauts and cosmonauts come into contact with radiation from a variety of sources. This can be monitored using the Timepix hybrid silicon pixel detector, with data being downloaded on the ground at regular intervals. The detectors themselves measure the type - alpha, beta, gamma, Minimum Ionising Particles (MIPs), heavy ion fragments, etc - and direction and energy of the radiation.
The ‘TimPix’ project offers students the unique opportunity to access Timepix detector data from the ISS during Tim’s stay. Where possible schools will also have the chance to host a Timepix detector to carry out their own experiments. By taking part in this project schools can directly contribute to research that will improve our understanding of radiation in space.
CERN@School is led by the Institute for Research in Schools; the TimPix project is supported by the UK Space Agency via a Principia award. This article was originally published in UK News from CERN.