Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Physics and Astronomy

Committee Chair

Massimillano Bonamente

Committee Member

Stephen Walker

Committee Member

Phillip Bitzer

Committee Member

James Miller


Gamma ray bursts, Gamma ray detectors, Microspacecraft--Instruments--Design and construction


The application of small satellites, commonly called CubeSats, has ushered in a new area of research focused on enabling small form factors for scientific exploration. In this dissertation, two contributions to the design of instrumentation and mission approaches are discussed, aimed at the study of gamma-ray emission from Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes (TGFs) and Gamma-ray Bursts (GRBs). The work supports two projects: the Terrestrial Rays Analysis and Detection (TRYAD) and the Alabama Burst Energetics Explore (ABEX). TRYAD is a 6U CubeSat designed to study TGFs using multipoint measurements of their gamma-ray emission from orbit. ABEX is a 12U CubeSat to study GRBs using both X-ray and gamma-ray instruments. The research effort on TRYAD supported the design of a signal processing system for a plastic scintillator and the modeling of its detection rate using simple TGF population models, including how well it can resolve between the wide and narrow beams discussed in TGF theory. The research work on ABEX supported the development of a new mission concept for joint X-ray and gamma-ray measurements of GRB prompt emission to better understand the theory of GRB jets. ABEX proposes a novel detector concept of modular wide-field collimated X-ray detectors paired with overlapping crystal scintillators to observe lower energy ranges in the prompt phase. The ABEX detector response models are evaluated to show performance capability in the resolution of synthetic spectra for different GRB jet models. Expected GRB detection rates are also modeled with the instrument response paired to a GRB population model to predict the number of detections. The results of this work show the importance and capability of CubeSats to provide new X-ray measurements in GRB science and multipoint measurements in understanding TGFs.



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