OWL—Orbital Wide-angle Light-collector for the air watch program, and multiple OWL

Ebisuzaki, Toshikazu; Takahashi, Yoshiyuki; Mohri, Mamoru; Dimmock, John O.; Hillman, Lloyd W.; Hadaway, James B.; Lamb, David J.; Handa, Toshihiro
January 2000
AIP Conference Proceedings;2000, Vol. 504 Issue 1, p279
Academic Journal
The International Space Station (ISS) will revolutionize scientific experimentation by providing a platform upon which some of the most ambitious projects yet conceived may be constructed, operated, and deployed. The Orbiting Wide-angle Light-collector (OWL-Airwatch) is a proposed space-based extensive air shower observatory which will detect a significant number of cosmic rays with energies above 10[sup 20] eV (Takahashi, 1996; Streitmatter, 1998; DeMarzo, 1998). A complete understanding of the origins and propagation of these particles may only be possible by introducing new and exotic physical mechanisms, and OWL-Airwatch may provide the first definitive evidence for the existence and decay of topological defects and other such exotic phenomena. There also exists the possibility of detecting high energy neutrinos as well as observing the effects of quantum gravity with the OWL-Airwatch instrument. Although the first OWL-Airwatch mission is planned as a free-flying observatory, its scientific abilities can be greatly enhanced by moving to a so-called multi-OWL configuration with the resources available on the ISS. The current OWL-Airwatch mission will observe nitrogen fluorescence resulting from cosmic ray induced extensive air showers in the earth’s atmosphere. Observing from space enables a large enough portion of the earth to be viewed such that a statistically significant number of the rare highest energy events can be detected within the life span of the mission. A second phase multi-OWL system fabricated and assembled on the ISS would further increase the threshold and statistics of the OWL-Airwatch mission. In this scheme, as many as seven OWL-Airwatch instruments would be assembled and deployed from the ISS. These seven units would cover the entire horizon of the earth’s atmosphere at an orbit of 1000 km and would accurately map the cosmic ray spectrum beyond 10[sup 21] eV. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.


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