The Gamma-RAy Polarimeter Experiment (GRAPE) is a concept for an astronomical hard X-ray Compton polarimeter operating in the 50 - 500 keV energy band. The instrument has been optimized for wide-field polarization measurements of transient outbursts from energetic astrophysical objects such as gamma-ray bursts and solar flares. The GRAPE instrument is composed of identical modules, each of which consists of an array of scintillator elements read out by a multi-anode photomultiplier tube (MAPMT). Incident photons Compton scatter in plastic scintillator elements and are subsequently absorbed in inorganic scintillator elements; a net polarization signal is revealed by a characteristic asymmetry in the azimuthal scattering angles. We have constructed a prototype GRAPE module that has been calibrated at a polarized hard X-ray beam and flown on an engineering balloon test flight. A full-scale scientific balloon payload, consisting of up to 36 modules, is currently under development. The first flight, a one-day flight scheduled for 2011, will verify the expected scientific performance with a pointed observation of the Crab Nebula. We will then propose long-duration balloon flights to observe gamma-ray bursts and solar flares.


Space Science Center, Physics

Publication Date


Journal Title

SPIE Proceedings



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type

Conference Proceeding


© (2009) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering.