NDQC - The Use of Cosmic Ray Detectors and the Effect of Elevation on Total Muon Counts

Cosmic Ray Detectors

Ben Mullins (Marian High School), Jeff Chorny (Lakeshore High School), K. Anderson (Bremen High School), C. Peterson (home school)

When charged particles from outside Earth’s atmosphere reach Earth, the particles collide with the atoms found in Earth’s atmosphere and separate into subatomic particles, such as muons. Despite having an average lifetime of only 2.2 microseconds, muons can reach the surface of Earth. Muons can be detected with certain counters, photomultiplier tubes, and a detector. In this study, cosmic ray detectors were used to observe the effect elevation has on total muon activity. When detectors are placed at low points of natural elevation, high points of natural elevation, and taken on airplane flights, muon activity changes. Less activity was recorded near a local riverbank than on an elevated hilltop. The greatest change in muon activity was observed when detecting rates during an airplane trip. As expected, the results showed a significance increase in muon activity at the highest elevation.