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Title: Characterization and mitigation of radiation damage on the Gaia Astrometric Field
Author: Brown, Scott William
ISNI:       0000 0004 2708 4646
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2011
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In November 2012, the European Space Agency (ESA) is planning to launch Gaia, a mission designed to measure with microarcsecond accuracy the astrometric properties of over a billion stars. Microarcsecond astrometry requires extremely accurate positional measurements of individual stellar transits on the focal plane, which can be disrupted by radiation-induced Charge Transfer Inefficiency (CTI). Gaia will suffer radiation damage, impacting on the science performance, which has led to a series of Radiation Campaigns (RCs) being carried out by industry to investigate these issues. The goal of this thesis is to rigorously assess these campaigns and facilitate how to deal with CTI in the data processing. We begin in Chapter 1 by giving an overview of astrometry and photometry, introducing the concept of stellar parallax, and establishing why observing from space is paramount for performing global, absolute astrometry. As demonstrated by Hipparcos, the concept is sound. After reviewing the Gaia payload and discussing how astrometric and photometric parameters are determined in practice, we introduce the issue of radiation-induced CTI and how it may be dealt with. The on board mitigating strategies are investigated in detail in Chapter 2. Here we analyse the effects of radiation damage as a function of magnitude with and without a diffuse optical background, charge injection and the use of gates, and also discover a number of calibration issues. Some of these issues are expected to be removed during flight testing, others will have to be dealt with as part of the data processing, e.g. CCD stitches and the charge injection tail. In Chapter 3 we turn to look at the physical properties of a Gaia CCD. Using data from RC2 we probe the density of traps (i.e. damaged sites) in each pixel and, for the first time, measure the Full Well Capacity of the Supplementary Buried Channel, a part of every Gaia pixel that constrains the passage of faint signals away from the bulk of traps throughout the rest of the pixel. The Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC) is currently adopting a 'forward modelling' approach to calibrate radiation damage in the data processing. This incorporates a Charge Distortion Model (CDM), which is investigated in Chapter 4. We find that although the CDM performs well there are a number of degeneracies in the model parameters, which may be probed further by better experimental data and a more realistic model. Another way of assessing the performance of a CDM is explored in Chapter 5. Using a Monte Carlo approach we test how well the CDM can extract accurate image parameters. It is found that the CDM must be highly robust to achieve a moderate degree of accuracyand that the fitting is limited by assigning finite window sizes to the image shapes. Finally, in Chapter 6 we summarise our findings on the campaign analyses, the on-board mitigating strategies and on how well we are currently able to handle radiation damage in the data processing.
Supervisor: van Leeuwen, Floor Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Satellites ; Astrometry ; Detectors ; Radiation damage ; Data analysis ; Statistical ; Calibration