Gateway for:

Member Countries

Orbital Ionization-neutron Calorimeter


Ionization-neutron Calorimeter in orbit (INCAO); First Phase: Experimental Balloon Module

Tech Area / Field

  • SAT-EXP/Extraterrestrial Exploration/Space, Aircraft and Surface Transportation
  • INS-DET/Detection Devices/Instrumentation

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
FIAN Lebedev, Russia, Moscow

Supporting institutes

  • Russian Academy of Sciences / Institute of Nuclear Research, Russia, Moscow\nNIIIT (Pulse Techniques), Russia, Moscow\nNPO Lavochkin, Russia, Moscow reg., Khimki

Project summary

One of the major goals in particle astrophysics is to develop a better understanding on the sources of high energy cosmic ray (CR) particles and their propagation in interstellar (IS) space. While the propagation is generally understood, the acceleration of the CR is more of an open question. It could be due to an action of some local sources prior to propagation, and thus related to the nature’s most dramatic events like supernova explosions; or it could be a part of the propagation itself; or even a combination of both.

The main difficulty in the astrophysical study of CR is related to the fact that during their confinement time CR are mixed in the IS magnetic field, so that information about specific sources is completely lost.

However, as was recently emphasized, there may be two important exceptions, where one could have direct information from CR on a few nearby sources. It is (a) the spectrum and composition of CR in the energy interval 1-10 PeV, the so-called “knee-region”, and (b) the spectrum of CR electrons at energies greater than about 1 TeV.

Unfortunately, in both cases the available experimental data, based on direct measurements, are rather poor.

In order to solve these problems, i.e. to measure CR spectrum and composition near the “knee” region, and to measure the high energy electron spectrum in the region above few TeV, an experiment with Ionization Neutron Calorimeter INCA) aboard a satellite or a Space Station is proposed.

The INCA is a novel type calorimeter, proposed by LPI group. However, it is based on a well developed and widely used technique of the neutron supermonitor and ionization calorimeter, and was recently successfully tested at hadron and electron beams. For the purposes of the proposed experiment INCA could combine a high ability to identify particles of electromagnetic and hadronic nature, a suitable accuracy of the energy measurements, and relatively modest weight.

The unique capabilities of the INCA make it possible to solve also other important problems of cosmic-ray physics:

- to study gamma-ray cosmic radiation, both diffuse and from local sources in the presently unexplored region of 30 GeV – 1 TeV;
- to detect neutrons (and gamma-quanta) generated in solar flares, since the INCA, in essence, is a neutron monitor;
- to search for both relativistic and non-relativistic very massive exotic particles with abnormally low values of the Z/A, charge to mass number ratio, which may contribute to galactic Dark Matter.

The INCA’s reach depends upon space carrier available, and thus detector mass M permissible. For dedicated satellite M could be greater than 4t, and all referred problems could be studied. For Space Station the expected mass limitation M<2t makes the “knee” unreachable, while another problems (including another “knee-type” structure in the cosmic ray proton spectrum at about 1 TeV energy) could be solved, with electron spectrum being the main goal.

This proposal is the first stage of the complete space project, and it includes design, construction and testing of the INCA experimental module with mass of 0.5 t. During its balloon flight both engineer testing and electron spectrum measurement will be carried out.

The main anticipated results of the project are construction of the INCA prototype, testing of its principals in balloon flight, and measurement of primary cosmic ray electron spectrum at energies up to 1 TeV.

Potential role of foreign collaborators

Realization of this project will be carried out in close collaboration with foreign colleagues from the following institutes:

— Institute for Cosmic Ray Research, Tokyo University, Japan; Kochi University, Japan;
— University of Durham, Great Britain; and Napoli INFN, Napoli, Italy.

All foreign collaborating groups have great long-term experience in studying both theoretically and experimentally the origin, composition and spectra of cosmic rays. Collaboration with these groups could be important in INCA designing, construction the detector subsystems (scintillator counters, electronics, telemetry, etc.), in balloon flight testing, in interpretation of the results and elaborating the recommendation for construction of the full-scale INCA detector. The collaboration has a great potential to be continued in future for construction of the full-scale INCA detector for International Space Station (in particular, for its Russian or Japanese sector) or for dedicated satellite.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

Promotional Material

Значимы проект

See ISTC's new Promotional video view