Synthesis and evaluation of an autonomous neutron monitor system for use in a very low temperature environment
The long standing study field of cosmic rays has been around since 1932 and as such, so has neutron monitors used to observe these high energy particles. One of the determining factors influencing the measurement of particles is that of physical location. The higher altitude and latitude monitors were found to observe more particles necessitating a growing scientific need to deploy smaller robust neutron monitors at higher altitude locations closer to both Arctic and Antarctic circles. Placing an instrument at these types of locations presents a logistical problem for the current mini-neutron monitor design. Lacking the infrastructure to supply power and shelter, such locations were mostly exposed to the elements -exhibiting extremely cold temperature conditions. This required the revaluation of the current monitor designs. Consequently, from this research a low-power/low-temperature neutron monitor was developed specifically for use in such isolated, harsh low-temperature conditions. Using Design Science Research (DSR) as the primary research methodology, the process of synthesis was combined with research to deliver both a real-world solution along with a knowledge base contribution in the form of meta-artefacts. The research problem of extreme environment operation was addressed by the study of low-temperature components. Failure mechanisms were limited by appropriate selection of specialized low-temperature components. To provide extra protection, an insulated heated enclosure was modelled to provide the system with additional safeguards against the extreme operating conditions. The problem of remote data acquisition was addressed by an autonomous design. A unit was built capable of storing data locally and responding to environmental influences without the need for human intervention. The unit was also made to regulate the use of energy, thereby controlling its enclosed temperature. Although this research focused on the development of a complete neutron monitor system, the physical solution was limited to the electronic capturing unit and a theoretical mechanical enclosure. The enclosure design was focused on an environmentally-sealed easily-transportable unit. As validation of model and construct, all the supporting mathematical models and experimental testing are presented in this research.
- Engineering