We have developed a design for a hard X-ray polarimeter operating in the energy range from 50 to 500 keV. This modular design, known as GRAPE (Gamma-Ray Polarimeter Experiment), has been successfully demonstrated in the lab using partially polarized gamma-ray sources and using fully polarized photon beams at Argonne National Laboratory. In June of 2007, a GRAPE engineering model, consisting of a single detector module, was flown on a high altitude balloon flight to further demonstrate the design and to collect background data. We are currently preparing a much larger balloon payload for a flight in the fall of 2011. Using a large (16-element) array of detector modules, this payload is being designed to search for polarization from known point sources of radiation, namely the Crab and Cygnus X-1. This first flight will not only provide a scientific demonstration of the GRAPE design (by measuring polarization from the Crab nebula), it will also lay the foundation for subsequent long duration balloon flights that will be designed for studying polarization from gamma-ray bursts and solar flares. Here we shall present data from calibration of the first flight module detectors, review the latest payload design and update the predicted polarization sensitivity for both the initial continental US balloon flight and the subsequent long-duration balloon flights.


Space Science Center, Physics

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SPIE Proceedings



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Conference Proceeding


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