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10 November 1998 AIRWATCH: the fast detector
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The discovery of the extreme energy cosmic rays (EERC) with energy greater than 1020 eV has opened a new research branch of astrophysics on both observational and interpretative point of views. Together with the EECR one has also to consider the neutrino component which, independently on its primary or secondary origin, can reach comparable energies. These particles can be detected through the giant showers (EAS) produced in the Earth atmosphere and the induced fluorescent molecular nitrogen emission. Observing the EECR 'signals' is very difficult; we need forefront technology or new developments. The main reason is that their flux is very weak, typically of the order of a few events/year/1000 km2 per EECR of E approximately equals 1020 eV. The proposed Airwatch mission, base don a single orbiting telescope which can measure both intensity and direction of the EAS, impose new concepts for the detectors; single photon sensitivity, fast response of the order of few microseconds with sampling times of tenths of nanoseconds, low noise and good S/N ratio, large area, adaptability to a curved surface. Fortunately the spatial resolution requirements are somehow relaxed. The peculiar characteristics of this application are such that no available detectors satisfies completely the requirements. Therefore the final detector has to be the result of a R and D program dedicated to the specific problem. In this paper we survey a number of possible detectors and identify their characteristics versus the Airwatch mission requirements.
© (1998) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.


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