In recent years, the number of CubeSats (U-class spacecrafts) launched into space has increased exponentially marking the dawn of the nanosatellite technology. In general, these satellites have a much smaller mass budget compared to conventional scientific satellites, which limits shielding of scientific instruments against direct and indirect radiation in space. We present a simulation framework to quantify the signal in large field-of-view gamma-ray scintillation detectors of satellites induced by x-ray/gamma-ray transients, by taking into account the response of the detector. Furthermore, we quantify the signal induced by x-ray and particle background sources at a Low-Earth Orbit outside South Atlantic Anomaly and polar regions. Finally, we calculate the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) taking into account different energy threshold levels. Our simulation can be used to optimize material composition and predict detectability of various astrophysical sources by CubeSats. We apply the developed simulation to a satellite belonging to a planned CAMELOT CubeSat constellation. This project mainly aims to detect short and long gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) and as a secondary science objective, to detect soft gamma-ray repeaters (SGRs) and terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs). The simulation includes a detailed computer-aided design model of the satellite to take into account the interaction of particles with the material of the satellite as accurately as possible. Results of our simulations predict that CubeSats can complement the large space observatories in high-energy astrophysics for observations of GRBs, SGRs, and TGFs. For the detectors planned to be on board the CAMELOT CubeSats, the simulations show that detections with SNR of at least 9 for median GRB and SGR fluxes are achievable.
The timing-based localization, which utilize the triangulation principle with the different arrival time of gammaray photons, with a fleet of Cubesats is a unique and powerful solution for the future all-sky gamma-ray observation, which is a key for identification of the electromagnetic counterpart of the gravitational wave sources. The Cubesats Applied for MEasuring and Localising Transients (CAMELOT) mission is now being promoted by the Hungarian and Japanese collaboration with a basic concept of the nine Cubesats constellations in low earth orbit. The simulation framework for estimation of the localization capability has been developed including orbital parameters, an algorithm to estimate the expected observed profile of gamma-ray photons, finding the peak of the cross-correlation function, and a statistical method to find a best-fit position and its uncertainty. It is revealed that a degree-scale localization uncertainty can be achieved by the CAMELOT mission concept for bright short gamma-ray bursts, which could be covered by future large field of view ground-based telescopes. The new approach utilizing machine-learning approach is also investigated to make the procedure automated for the future large scale constellations. The trained neural network with 106 simulated light curves generated by the artificial short burst templates successfully predicts the time-delay of the real light curve and achieves a comparable performance to the cross-correlation algorithm with full automated procedures.
GRBAlpha is a 1U CubeSat mission with an expected launch date in the first half of 2021. It carries a 75 × 75 × 5 mm CsI(Tl) scintillator, read out by a dual-channel multi-pixel photon counter (MPPC) setup, to detect gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). The GRB detector is an in-orbit demonstration for the detector system on the Cubesats Applied for MEasuring and LOcalising Transients (CAMELOT) mission. While GRBAlpha provides 1/8th of the expected effective area of CAMELOT, the comparison of the observed light curves with other existing GRB monitoring satellites will allow us to validate the core idea of CAMELOT, i.e. the feasibility of timing-based localization