Induced X-ray fluorescence background for high-voltage space based detectors

T. Rogers, R. McEntaffer, J. McCoy, D. M. Miles, T. Schultz, J. Tutt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A sounding rocket utilizing Gaseous Electron Multiplier detectors experienced a strong source of unexpected signal during flight which prevented the acquisition of usable science data. We find that the flight data is well-matched with a simple fluorescence model corresponding to K- and L-emission lines of the materials present inside the payload. Illuminating the payload with a laboratory electron source produces a similar spectrum. The signal appears to be caused by the presence of ionospheric electrons inside the payload being accelerated by our high-voltage X-ray detectors to energies that can cause fluorescence of the payload interior. Future space based missions utilizing high-voltage detectors should consider the dangers of high-altitude electrons as a potential source of background signal. Missions utilizing Gaseous Electron Multiplier detectors may be at particular risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalExperimental Astronomy
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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