A fleet of nanosatellites using precise timing synchronization provided by the Global Positioning System is a new concept for monitoring the gamma-ray sky that can achieve both all-sky coverage and good localization accuracy. We are proposing this new concept for the mission CubeSats Applied for MEasuring and LOcalising Transients (CAMELOT). The differences in photon arrival times at each satellite are to be used for source localization. Detectors with good photon statistics and the development of a localization algorithm capable of handling a large number of satellites are both essential for this mission. Large, thin CsI scintillator plates are the current candidates for the detectors because of their high light yields. It is challenging to maximize the light-collection efficiency and to understand the position dependence of such thin plates. We have found a multi-channel readout that uses the coincidence technique to be very effective in increasing the light output while keeping a similar noise level to that of a single channel readout. Based on such a detector design, we have developed a localization algorithm for this mission and have found that we can achieve a localization accuracy better than 20 arc minutes and a rate of about 10 short gamma-ray bursts per year.
We propose a fleet of nanosatellites to perform an all-sky monitoring and timing based localisation of gamma-ray transients. The fleet of at least nine 3U cubesats shall be equipped with large and thin CsI(Tl) scintillator based soft gamma-ray detectors read out by multi-pixel photon counters. For bright short gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), by cross-correlating their light curves, the fleet shall be able to determine the time difference of the arriving GRB signal between the satellites and thus determine the source position with an accuracy of ∼ 100 . This requirement demands precise time synchronization and accurate time stamping of the detected gamma-ray photons, which will be achieved by using on-board GPS receivers. Rapid follow up observations at other wavelengths require the capability for fast, nearly simultaneous downlink of data using a global inter-satellite communication network. In terms of all-sky coverage, the proposed fleet will outperform all GRB monitoring missions.