New Paper "The design and flight performance of the PoGOLite Pathfinder..."
In the 50 years since the advent of X-ray astronomy there have been many scientific advances due to the development of new experimental techniques for detecting and characterising X-rays. Observations of X-ray polarisation have, however, not undergone a similar development. This is a shortcoming since a plethora of open questions related to the nature of X-ray sources could be resolved through measurements of the linear polarisation of emitted X-rays. The PoGOLite Pathfinder is a balloon-borne hard X-ray polarimeter operating in the 25 - 240 keV energy band from a stabilised observation platform. Polarisation is determined using coincident energy deposits in a segmented array of plastic scintillators surrounded by a BGO anticoincidence system and a polyethylene neutron shield. The PoGOLite Pathfinder was launched from the SSC Esrange Space Centre in July 2013. A near-circumpolar flight was achieved with a duration of approximately two weeks. The flight performance of the Pathfinder design is discussed for the three Crab observations conducted. The signal-to-background ratio for the observations is shown to be 0.25\(\pm\)0.03 and the Minimum Detectable Polarisation (99% C.L.) is (28.4\(\pm\)2.2)%. A strategy for the continuation of the PoGOLite programme is outlined based on experience gained during the 2013 maiden flight.