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Project CREDO

Updated: 2020-09-26

Introduction

Our scientists and employees actively participate in the international project Cosmic-Ray Extremely Distributed Observatory (CREDO), initiated in 2016 at the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IFJ PAN) in Krakow by prof. IFJ PAN Dr. hab. Piotr Homola (NZ15).

About the project

The Cosmic-Ray Extremely Distributed Observatory uses the hunt for particle cascades from deep space as a vehicle for a unique “bottom-up” approach to scientific research. By engaging the non-specialist public of all ages as “citizen scientists” we create opportunities for lifelong learning for individuals as well as for cooperation and the sharing of common educational tools amongst institutions. The discoveries of these citizen scientists will feed directly into a pioneering new area of scientific research oriented on cosmic ray ensembles. The detection (or non-detection) of such particle groups promises to open up a new method for exploring our universe, and a new channel on the multi-messenger stage, oriented on both astro- and geo-investigations. The opportunities this would create for cross-disciplinary research are significant and beneficial for individuals, networks of institutions and the global communities of both professional scientists and science enthusiasts.

Purpose of research

The Cosmic-Ray Extremely Distributed Observatory (CREDO) aims at searching for the yet not checked multi cosmic-ray signatures that are composed of many air showers and individual particles arriving simultaneously to the Earth, so-called cosmic ray ensembles (CRE). The signals from CRE might be spread over very large surfaces which might make them hardly detectable by the existing detector systems operating individually. On the other hand, if these detector systems operate under a global network, as proposed by CREDO, the chances for detection of CRE, will naturally increase. The components of individual CRE might have energies that span practically the whole energy spectrum of cosmic rays. Thus, all the cosmic-ray detectors working in this range, beginning from smartphones and pocket scintillators, through numerous larger educational detectors and arrays to the professional infrastructure capable of registering cosmic rays as a signal or as a background, can contribute to a common effort towards a hunt for CRE.

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IFJ contribution

The IFJ PAN group plays a leading role in the CREDO Collaboration - Dr. Piotr Homola is the originator of the Collaboration and its Project Coordinator since the formal beginning in 2019, and IFJ PAN is the institutional leader, with the largest in-kind (both in the scientific and administrative sense) and financial contributions. We are active on many levels:

  • coordination of the entire project,
  • data monitoring analysis,
  • Monte Carlo simulations (CRE and extensive air showers, as well as detection performance in specific sensor network configurations),
  • creating publicly available scripts and other tools for exploring the CREDO dataset,
  • administration of servers, websites and social media activity of the project,
  • popularization of science (concerning mainly cosmic radiation), with particular emphasis on teachers of secondary and primary schools and their students, e.g. by organizing webinars and the "Particle Hunters" competition.

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Main results

  • Creation of the CREDO Detector application enabling the detection of secondary cosmic radiation particles and local radioactivity with the use of mobile devices; providing the code of the CREDO Detector application under the MIT license, enabling participation in its further development by CREDO research groups outside IFJ PAN, and even by groups or individual programmers outside CREDO.
  • Formation of the CREDO Collaboration bringing together institutions interested in joint activities for the search of CRE and the relevant investigations, as well as in interdisciplinary research and exploring the social and educational potential of the global network of radiation detectors. Updated list of institutions that have signed the CREDO Memorandum of Understanding (as of October 10, 2020, it is 40 institutions from 18 countries on 5 continents) can be found here.
  • Organization of the "Particle Hunters" team competition involving the detection of radiation using the CREDO Detector application. In the years 2018-2020, two pilot editions of the competition were carried out in Poland, with over 100 teams (schools) and 1.8 thousand participants, mainly pupils. Currently, the third edition of the competition is underway, international for the first time.
  • Building the media image of the CREDO Collaboration enabling the mass acquisition of participants from Poland and the world (the credo.sciencewebsite; social media: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram; radio, TV, and press interviews, popular science articles: updated lis).

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