The Langton Ultimate Cosmic ray Intensity Detector (LUCID) experiment is a student-designed, satellite-based experiment that aims to measure properties of the space radiation environment in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) using five Timepix detectors arranged in an open-faced cube. LUCID is able to characterise the energy, type, intensity and directionality of high energy particles thanks to its five Timepix detector chips. These have been developed by the Medipix2 Collaboration, originally for medical applications in X-ray imaging.

The LUCID experiment with the aluminium cover removed, showing the Timepix detectors.

The capabilities of the Timepix detectors will allow them to measure the properties of the space radiation environment like never before. Being able to check the "space weather", as it is otherwise known, in Low Earth Orbit (for TechDemoSat-1, this is of around 635km) is crucial for understanding how satellites operate at these altitudes. Given that so much of our communications network, such as our mobile phones, relies on satellites, LUCID will provide essential data that will benefit both fundamental space science and society as a whole.

The LUCID experiment with the aluminium cover in place.


Part-funded by the Technology Strategy Board and South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), TechDemoSat-1 is a collaborative project to bolster the UK’s thriving space industry by providing a low-cost opportunity for innovative commercial and research payloads under development in the UK to gain flight heritage. It is planned to fly in a polar orbit, at an altitude of approximately 635 km, for three years after it launches. LUCID is one of ten UK payloads onboard TechDemoSat-1.

TechDemoSat-1 over the earth (artist's impression).

Built by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, it successfully launched on Tuesday 8th July 2014 at 15.58 28 seconds UTC from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, aboard TechDemoSat-1 (pictured above). After a successful separation, first contact was made with the satellite at around 20:27 UTC.

Above you can see a video from TechDemoSat-1's on-board camera taken about 30 seconds after it was injected into orbit. Further details, including a full description of the video's content, can be found on the SSTL website here.

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