2018.B.3.3. A Neutron Spectrometer for Small Satellite Opportunities


Iker Liceaga-Indart (1)
Georgia de Nolfo (1)
Jeffrey Dumonthier (3)
James Ryan (2)
George Suarez (3)

  1. Heliophysics Division, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr, United States of America
  2. Space Science Center, University of New Hampshire, United States of America
  3. Instrument Electronics Development Branch, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr, United States of America




Neutron, Spectrometer, Photomultiplier, Scintillator, SmallSat, CubeSat


The detection of fast neutrons has important applications in a wide variety of fields including geospace, solar and planetary physics, and applications within Defense and Security programs. Scintillator-based technologies have a proven record for detecting and measuring fast neutrons. They have high stopping power, good energy resolution, and fast timing properties. Modern organic scintillators such as p-terphenyl, provide improved light output and pulse shape discrimination — the ability to distinguish gammaray from neutron-induced signals. Furthermore, modern readout devices such as silicon photomultipliers offer an ideal alternative to photomultiplier tubes given that they are compact, robust, and low power. The combination of modern scintillators and silicon photomultipliers enables new instrument designs for small satellite platforms such as CubeSats. We present the performance of a double-scatter neutron spectrometer based on p-terphenyl equipped with silicon photomultiplier readout and pulse-shape discrimination using advanced waveform capture techniques.


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