North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Atmospheric Cosmic-Ray Measurements in the 21st Century
The cosmic-ray intensity inside the atmosphere forms a well-defined part of the space radiation environment. Neutron monitors in a world-wide network measure this intensity and its variations, augmented by muon telescopes, atmospheric Cherenkov detectors and balloon experiments. It is shown in the talk how these instruments make useful contributions to the field of Space Weather and early warnings of such events.
These atmospheric detectors are complementary to typical space experiments because they measure higher energies, which is important to study acceleration processes in solar cosmic-ray eventsthey have higher counting rates to resolve smaller eventsthey have better directional sensitivity through the extensive worldwide network,they provide a long-term stable baseline which is important to reconstruct solar activity in the distant past.
Most importantly, advances in electronics and neutron counters make it possible to miniaturize these detectors and deploy them in places that were inaccessible to the current instruments. This leads to new possibilities, examples of which will be discussed.