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Introducing TimPix

The TimPix project is a way for schools to get involved with Tim Peake’s mission to the International Space Station. Thanks to Professor Larry Pinsky and colleagues at the University of Houston and NASA, the Institute for Research in Schools has been given access to data from Timepix detectors on board the International Space Station.

These detectors are capable of measuring the type, direction and energy of radiation passing through. The data from the detectors is being used by Professor Pinsky and colleagues to monitor the radiation environment of the ISS as it orbits the Earth. Radiation in space comes from various sources, including a large contribution from the Sun. The Sun’s behaviour is constantly measured by spacecraft such as SoHo to help our understanding of how it works, but also to warn us in case of a large solar event. The Sun’s behaviour has many implications for Earth, not just the appearance of the beautiful Aurora.

Over the past few months I have run events for teachers around the country, most recently I was hosted by the Science and Technology Facilities Council at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Didcot. We discussed the sources and make-up of the radiation that strikes the Earth and how our magnetic field protects us from the majority of what we are bombarded with. The teachers were then able to work on a sample of the ISS data to identify the peak in the radiation measured.

Schools are invited to carry out the own investigations using the data. You can sign up to the project, download resources and an initial data set here: http://www.researchinschools.org/TIMPIX/home.html

Once signed up schools can access data from Tim’s mission and request other periods of interest, perhaps from when there has been increased solar activity. In future blog posts we will be sharing the areas schools have been researching.

Laura Thomas

Educational Consultant

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