8/31/20: This year I am planning on writing about the research done in the Cosmic Ray Array Group and then moving onto the Emotiv lab. There is also a possibility of making a video for WISRD. My goals for this week: come up with article ideas, work on researching Emotiv, and meet with Professor Moreno about writing.

1/16/20: We are looking into the possibility of using a reed switch to turn the payload on and off using a magnetic field.

1/14/20: We tested the new scintillators and got 100 counts, twice the 25 cm^2 detectors. Today I learned how to polish a scintillator. I used the heat gun to run along the sanded edge of the scintillator and slowly melted the material. We organized the parts aswell. I am in the process of coming up with an article for the WISRD magazine. I am in the process of creating a gantt chart to get everything on track.

Using a heat gun at 333 F° to melt scintillator
Overview of polishing scintillator

1/13/20: Today was our CDR. After weeks of preparation, we presented NASA. It was a good experience and they only had positive things to say about WISRD and our payload project. In preparation for the CDR I wish that I spent more time working on my memorization so I would not feel the need to use my paper at all. Axil and I received lots of good feedback from going to Mt. Wilson, and I was complimented on my clearness while I was speaking about the centrifuge. I will take what I learned from this experience and implement it into the presentation coming up in March. Here is the script I used for the CDR:

The purpose of our scientific payload is to build and test low cost, energy, and mass personal-size cosmic ray detectors that can withstand high acceleration flights. 

We believe that Project Mew-on has several applications for NASA, including a safety system for space travelers, the possibility of setting up a cosmic ray network on mars, and using the information from arrays to determine the origin of cosmic rays.

To address NASA’s first suggestion, “Could we characterize the robustness of electronics to 13 g’s in a ground test?” the payload group designed and built a centrifuge capable of testing well beyond 13g’s.

 To construct our centrifuge, we used a discarded motor from UCLA. We attached an arm to the motor and fastened the cosmic ray detector to one end and a counterweight to the other. 

To determine the revolutions per minute necessary to generate a minimum of 13 g’s, we used the following relationships for objects traveling in a circular motion:  

where r is the radius.

And that  can be written in terms of frequency as: 

With a 10 cm radius axis, we determined that 13 g’s could be achieved by 334 rpm. 

The reason we can use centripetal acceleration is because based on einstein’s theory of relativity there is no difference between an acceleration that’s due to gravity or linear acceleration.

At the end, we did a visual inspection for any damage. And we did before and after counts which indicated that the detector had gone through no physical or functional change due to the 13 g’s. we increased the voltage on the motor until we reached 334 RPMs.

We knew we were at 334 RPMs because we had an adjustable strobe light. We adjusted the strobe light to 334 and watched until the gyroscope that was attached to the cosmic ray detector stopped rotating.

To address the third question posed by NASA, “Could we measure the angles and correlate them to cosmic ray counts?”, we found that there is a mathematical relationship between the angle of the scintillator the counts collected. 

Cosmic ray intensity follows a cos2θ function, where θ  is the angle between the scintillator and Earth’s surface. 

This relationship is shown here on the left where cos2θ  = 1 when the normal of the scintillator is perpendicular to earth and zero when the normal is parallel to the earth. In other words, counts are maximized when the scintillator surface is parallel to the horizon and minimized when it is 90 degrees to the horizon.  

The effect of scintillator orientation on cosmic ray counts has been previously tested by WISRD, and these results are shown in the graph on the right.

The graph on the right of the screen indicates a linear function. Between the counts and the cos angle^2. The slope of this line is to remain constant so we should be able to take our data and fit it to that same line.

As we mentioned during our PDR presentation, we would be redesigning the scintillator shape from 5cm x 5cm to a circular shape with a surface area of approximately 11 square inches, that provides 2.8 times more surface area for muon detection. 

WISRD has just cut these new scintillators with a laser cutter, polished them, wrapped them in aluminum foil, attached the photomultiplier, and wrapped them in black electrical tape to make them light-tight. 

We are in the process of testing the new scintillators now. 

12/6/19: Write about the equation: ∆S=1/2(vf-vi)t^2. I need to find the arm length of the centrifuge. Get permission slips. Talk to team Athena about the date for the CDR. Max is almost done printing the new scintillator.

12/5/19: I went over what I need to write for the CDR. I learned about the equation: ∆S=1/2(vf-vi)t^2. I am also preparing for the trip to Mt. Wilson which is coming up on Dec. 15.

12/3/19: Today we were confronted with some problems, the first being that the USB-mini wouldn’t fit into the payload bay. Our solution for this is to re-route the power to the 5V pin on the Arduino. This enables us to use only one of the USB ports on the POM battery. Running both CR detectors only off of

  • 12/3/19–To Do:
  • Set up a time for PG to meet at lunch
  • Find out how long the arm needs to be
  • Go over feedback from PDR
  • CDR presentation
  • Trip to Mt. Wilson ASAP
  • Have Payload Assembled
  • Centrifuge

12/2/19: November recap: In November my main focus was our upcoming PDR. Lots of prep time went into writing out what I would be saying and practice presentations. We received lots of positive feedback from NASA but also questions that will help me think about parts of the payload in a new way. There was a question about how we were going to test if the CR detector can withstand the 13gs.

11/4/19: This past weekend I attend Explore Your Universe at UCLA. At this event we shared our cosmic ray detectors and shared are knowledge to the public. This was definitely a positive experience for me for a couple of reasons: first off being it was my first time presenting in a public space, next, it was a good place to network and make connections with people working on the same projects as us. A highlight of the event was talking to Dr. Whitehorn about our timing issue with our cr detectors. He let us know that he has been working on code to get the timing down to the millisecond.

10/27/19: Currently I am feeling very overwhelmed with the amount of stuff that needs to get done. To-Do for WISRD on Monday: get on the same page with Joe and people at NDA, update gantt chart, organize materials, add to the PDR milestone, add figure descriptions, find a time for WISRD members to meet outside of allotted class time.

10/22/19: I am working on writing the objective and I have received the results of the test from Ethan C. He has determined that the paddles must be horizontal to get optimize the cosmic ray count. I am working this newfound research into my objective: The objective of the payload is to measure the density of cosmic rays over the first 4,000ft and if the cosmic ray detector is robust enough to withstand the 12g during launch. During the launch, the Cosmic Watch detector will be able to measure if there is a flux in cosmic rays over the first 4,000 ft using a coincidence. Utilizing a coincidence will drastically improve accuracy in data collection. Using a coincidence will support WISRD in further experiments that include counting cosmic rays. Considering there will be two cosmic ray detectors (to make the coincidence) in the rocket’s payload, the element of design is crucial. Working within a 4in diameter to house equipment the components must be placed strategically. A question came up during the design process which was: does the orientation of the scintillator affect the count of the cosmic rays? A colleague ran this experiment and the design was based on the result that the cosmic ray count does depend on the orientation of the paddles. In the design the paddles will be horizontal to maximize the cosmic ray count. WISRD is predicting that the cosmic rays that will be counted during the rocket launch are galactic rays. Cosmic rays typically come from the sun and outside our solar system, but it is hard to distinguish the two. We will be at a low solar activity for 2019 and 2020 which concludes the point that we will be detecting a majority of galactic rays.

The component that still needs to be added is the hypothesis.

10/21/19: Today we met with the other half of our team from Notre Dame Academy. We had a very productive meeting, we shared notes, compiled a list of hazards and showed them what we have been working on. We are working hard to meet the deadline on Friday.

Meeting with team Athena

10/17/19: We are working on a strict deadline and now we are really getting into the project. Our team all have roles and different assignments to complete over the weekend. Mine is to write the objective for the payload. Today we also had a Q&A session with Zachery K. from NASA. Notes from the meeting our in google drive. On Monday we are taking group pictures for our PDR presentation. I have to get the test results from Ethan C. so we can send our sketches off to be turned into CAD drawings. Today was a busy, but productive day. Pictures from today’s meeting:


10/11/19: We are 3d printing our first piece, and today I worked on writing the payload. The task for next week: find out if we need to attach a micro sd card reader to the CR detector

10/9/19: Today there was a call with NASA about our contribution to the payload. Unfortunately, none of the members from our team were available to attend the call so we will have to get Joe to fill us in.

10/8/19: Our WISRD team is working on getting our name featured on the NASA website along with Notre Dame Academy. This is hopefully just a minor set back, but if it progresses into a bigger issue we may not be able to participate in the actual launch in Alabama. Currently, everybody is working on contributing to the Payload Criteria document. This includes the payload review, sketches, and objectives. We are also continuing to code the altimeter. We are having a colleague run an experiment to test if the direction the paddles of the CR detectors are facing and if the direction impacts the count. The outcome of this experiment will be included in our report we share with NASA. Here are pictures of the experiment that is set up to analyze the data collected by the paddles.

10/3/19: Today was a big day in WISRD! My team’s proposal was accepted which means we are moving forward with our NASA rocket launch. Today I made a Gantt chart to keep our team on task. I have been learning lots of new terms, concepts, and skills in the past month and will continue to grow my knowledge around cosmic rays and CR detectors over the course of this project. I am looking forward to all of our upcoming plans, which include having a conference call with people from NASA, test launches and going to Huntsville, AL. Below is a screenshot of our Gantt chart:

Gantt Chart

9/26/19: We are starting our white paper on the altimeter. As of right now, my job is to write about how to connect an altimeter to an Arduino. I am doing research on this and annotating the websites. Joe also showed us how to use a voltmeter (VOM) to identify common voltage on a breadboard. I also learned about Aligator clips.

9/24/19: Today was my first day soldering the CR detector. I was soldering a resistor onto the board. We have received an updated schedule for the payload project and have continued to make progress soldering our first CR detector. Bob showed us how to incorporate the use of a microscope to help us solder. Nnenna and Axil are learning how to code an altimeter.

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Nnenna B. Coding the altimeter

9/23/19: Today was a productive day in WISRD. We organized the rest of the parts and continued to soldier. Tobey and I also tried to log into the WISRD Instagram but we couldn’t because we were logged out of the WISRD email.

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Axil B. Soldering

9/19/19: Today in WISRD I went through all of the parts that we have received and organized them. Right now our team has two more parts that we need to find, the DC-DC booster and the OpAmp.

9/17/19: Over the past few weeks, I have been working on the 2019-2020 NASA student launch. I helped write a proposal, learned basic soldering techniques, ordered and cataloged parts and leaned basic number conversions.

9/13/19: I have been working on this graphic for the proposal. Here is the final copy:

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How the detector works

Here is a paragraph explaining it: When cosmic rays collide with the atmosphere, they split into secondary cosmic rays, such as pions and kaons, which are muon progenitors. These muons and electrons rain down to the surface of the earth where they can be detected by cosmic ray detectors. Once muons and electrons strike the cosmic ray detectors, the energy is absorbed and re-emitted as light by a plastic scintillator. The energy absorbed creates a small flash of light. WISRD’s Cosmic Watch silicon photomultiplier (SiPM) amplifies the light creating a pulse that can be sent to an Arduino Nano and be counted.