Influence of the Mars Science Laboratory Rover RTG on the Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) background counts

Figure 1: Computer designed model of the MSL-Rover

The Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) will characterize the radiation environment on the Martian surface from galactic cosmic radiation (GCR), solar particle events (SPEs) and secondary particles including neutrons. The MSL rover power source is a Radioisotope Thermal Generator (RTG). This RTG is the main source of background for RAD and hence this background needs to be accurately modeled and characterized.

This work will use the CERN GEANT 4 package to model the transport of radiation from the RTG to RAD, especially the neutrons and gamma-rays. This includes the transport through the rover, but also via the Martian soil.

The result should be a model which can be used for different soil conditions and a time-varying input spectrum. The thesis should explain the model in sufficient detail that it can be used by other workers to analyze MSL/RAD data.

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. R. F. Wimmer-Schweingruber
Beginning: immediately

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