Space qualifying RAAD CubeSat for the study of terrestrial gamma-ray flashes and other short timescale phenomenon

Lolowa Al Kindi, Mallory S.E. Roberts, Adriano di Giovanni, Francesco Arneodo, Ahlam Al Qasim, Aisha Al Mannaei, Noora Al Marri, Fatema Al Khouri, Sohmyung Ha, Philip Panicker, Laura Manenti, Gianmarco Bruno, Rodrigo Torres, Sebastian Kalos, Valerio Conicella, Prashanth Marpu, Thu Vu, Heyam Al Blooshi

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The RAAD (Rapid Acquisition Atmospheric Detector) instrument is a soft Gamma-Ray detector optimized for studying Terrestrial GammaRay Flashes (TGFs). We are testing two configurations which use two different types of scintillating crystals (Cerium Bromide and Lanthanum BromoChloride) coupled to S13361-6050AE-04 Hamamatsu Silicon Photomultipliers (SiPMs) and R11265-200 Photomultiplier Tubes (PMTs). Each detector consists of a 2 x 2 array of crystals and photosensors, each fitting into < 1U of a CubeSat, and provides ~20 cm2 of effective area to photons with energy less than 200 keV and ~10 cm2 at 600 keV. The detector's unique combination of scintillating crystals and photosensors, along with a custom-designed readout electronics, overcomes the deadtime and timing precision limitations as well as the low resolution at lower energies (< 50 keV) typical of previous missions that had tried to detect TGFs. The custom-designed payload electronics provide the required spectroscopic and timing capabilities within the low power budget constraints (< 4 W on average) of the mission. It is sensitive in the 20 keV - 3000 keV energy range, has a 200 ns time resolution, and good energy resolution (~ 5% @ 511 keV). We present the results of thermal and mechanical space qualification tests on the payload, energy and timing calibrations, and pre-flight particle and signal simulations characterizing the expected response. We also show how such detectors could be deployed in a network of CubeSats to study TGFs and for multi-messenger astronomy. RAAD is the chosen payload for the Light-1 3U CubeSat, the first joint mission between the UAE Space Agency and the Bahraini Space Agency, which is expected to be launched in May 2021 and deployed from the International Space Station.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalProceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC
StatePublished - 2020
Event71st International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2020 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Oct 12 2020Oct 14 2020


  • CubeSat
  • Lightning storms
  • Particle Detectors
  • Scintillation Crystals
  • Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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