Gamma Decay
Light, Sound and Waves

Bomb detecting with space telescope spare parts

Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16 IOP RESOURCES

NASA’s Compton Gamma Ray Observatory was launched in 1991 and produced much useful data on astronomical high-energy radiation. In 1999, the telescope suffered a gyroscope failure and was successfully ‘deorbited’ in 2000. However, researchers realised that the spacecraft’s sensors make good bomb detectors as they can provide information on the direction of a gamma ray source which conventional detectors do not. They recycled spare parts built for the spacecraft’s gamma ray detectors as detectors for dirty bombs that contain a mixture of conventional explosives and radioactive substances.


Limit Less Campaign

Support our manifesto for change

The IOP wants to support young people to fulfil their potential by doing physics. Please sign the manifesto today so that we can show our politicians there is widespread support for improving equity and inclusion across the education sector.

Sign today