18 July 2016 Ex luna, scientia: lunar occultation as a paradigm for nuclear astrophysics
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Abstract
Next-generation nuclear astrophysics investigations must address a demanding set of requirements to probe the matter and energy life-cycle in our Galaxy and throughout the Cosmos. Enhanced flux sensitivity and (near) all-sky monitoring are just two of these requirements; cost effectiveness and other programmatic restrictions pose additional challenges. These competing goals can be addressed with a paradigm change, i.e. performing investigations from lunar orbit and utilizing a new detection and imaging technique. We report on our development of the Moon as a platform for nuclear astrophysics utilizing the Lunar Occultation Technique (LOT). Here source fluxes are temporally modulated as they are repeatedly occulted by the Moon; the modulation, as observed by a suitably configured instrument in lunar orbit, enables the detection, imaging, and characterization of both point- and extended-sources, narrow-line and broadband sources. Key benefits include maximizing the ratio of sensitive-to-total deployed mass and the operational simplicity relative to other detection schemes. A mission based on the LOT, the Lunar Occultation Explorer (LOX), will be the first to employ occultation as the principle method to characterize the intensity, variability, and spectra of detected sources.
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Richard S. Miller, David J. Lawrence, Patrick N. Peplowski, John O. Goldsten, Martin T. Ozimek, Christopher J. Scott, James C. Leary, Dave Grant, C. Alex Young, "Ex luna, scientia: lunar occultation as a paradigm for nuclear astrophysics", Proc. SPIE 9905, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016: Ultraviolet to Gamma Ray, 99056B (18 July 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2232779; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2232779
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