Colloquium: "Asteroid Muography" by Alessandra Menicucci (Delft University of Technology)

H331 (Nikhef)



In this talk Dr. Menicucci will present the design of a hodoscopic muon detector which can be flown on-board of a small satellite mission to a Near Earth Object in order to characterize its interior. This technique called muography (or muon radiography) is based on the measurement of the absorption of the secondary muons, created by the interaction of cosmic rays with any planetary body. The interest for asteroids, or more formally, Small Solar System Bodies, has increased significantly in the last years. Not only the study of near Earth asteroids is key for understanding the origin of our solar system and the origin of life, but also a new economical opportunity is emerging which plans to exploit these objects in the future for mining. Due to their small size and the large distances from Earth, ground based observations yield limited data, mostly confined to surface characteristics. Also the currently planned space missions targeting asteroids or other SSSBs, are mainly focused upon collecting data from the surface. Information about the interior can be obtained with penetrative techniques like seismology and core drilling which however would require specific equipment and direct landing on the asteroid. Muography can provide an alternative method to investigate deeper structures. We present the design of the Mu-ASTIR (Muon Asteroid Interior) instrument, a muon detector based on 3 sensitive planes, consisting of two semi-conductor based PSD arrays per sensitive plane sandwiching a dual-layer ”grid” of borosilicate glass paddles to measure the Cherenkov effect. The instrument has been fully simulated with Geant4 and different design options compared.