Technology roadmap for improvement of the North–West University neutron monitor system of the Centre for Space Research
Minnie, Erick Francois
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The Centre for Space Research (formerly known as the Unit for Space Physics) at the North–West University manages the operation, maintenance and data gathering of four neutron monitors. This is done in order to indirectly study the patterns and reactivity of the Sun. Some of these neutron monitors have been operating from the late 1950’s while not receiving much attention regarding technology upgrades, but were kept alive by merely maintaining the bits and pieces that started giving problems. This is all about to change due to this thesis that will serve as a Technological Roadmap for the Improvement of the North–West University Neutron Monitor System of the Centre for Space Research. It begins by looking at the essential parts needed to count cosmic rays - the primary particles that are affected by the Sun’s intensity and reactivity - and register their collision–products, neutrons. Then it covers the Centre for Space Research’s neutron monitor systems as a whole, including the physical locations up to the logistics needed to change a part. The systems analysis of the neutron monitor operation was done in order to determine the current neutron monitor operational functions and to determine the system’s risk profile. A complete FMECA breakdown of worst–case scenarios and their impact on the system was done, and the mitigating actions were discussed in order to minimize the effect a specific failure mode will have. The project ends by giving a couple of technological and design suggestions in order to maintain and upgrade the system.
- Engineering