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Development and Characterization of Large La-Halide Gamma-Ray Scintillators for Future Planetary Missions

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14 Author(s)

Future planetary missions such as BepiColombo are resource limited in both mass and power. Due to the proximity of the spacecraft to the Sun, the instrumentation will encounter harsh environments as far as radiation levels and thermal loads are concerned. Only radiation hard detectors that need little or no cooling will be able to successfully operate after long cruise times and over the expected mission lifetimes. The next generation of lanthanum halide scintillators promises to provide sufficient resolution in the spectral range between 1 and 10 MeV where most of the elemental gamma-ray emission lines can be detected. In order to be suitable for planetary gamma-ray spectrometers with sufficient sensitivity it had to be proven that larger crystals of size 3 can be produced and that they maintain their resolution of 3% at 662 keV. For that purpose we have produced and characterized several larger crystals and assessed their radiation hardness by exposing the crystals to radiation doses that are representative of the expected conditions in the space environment. Systematic measurements on several crystals allowed the determination of the activation potential and the performance verification from which the consequences for instrument flight performance can be derived. From these investigations we conclude that these scintillators are well suited for planetary missions, with excellent and stable performance.

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Nuclear Science, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:54 ,  Issue: 4 )