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Inter-calibration of atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes with UAV-based airborne calibration system

Brown, Anthony M.; Muller, Jacques; de Naurois, Mathieu; Clark, Paul

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Jacques Muller

Mathieu de Naurois

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Paul Clark
Technical Manager (IPPP Systems)


The recent advances in the flight capability of remotely piloted aerial vehicles (here after referred to as UAVs) have afforded the astronomical community the possibility of a new telescope calibration technique: UAV-based calibration. Building upon a feasibility study which characterised the potential that a UAV-based calibration system has for the future Cherenkov Telescope Array, we created a first-generation UAV-calibration prototype and undertook a field-campaign of inter-calibrating the sensitivity of the H.E.S.S. telescope array with two successful calibration flights. In this paper we report the key results of our first test campaign: firstly, by comparing the intensity of the UAV-calibration events, as recorded by the individual HESS-I cameras, we find that a UAV-based inter-calibration is consistent with the standard muon inter-calibration technique at the level of \SI{5.4}{\%} and \SI{5.8}{\%} for the two individual UAV-calibration runs. Secondly, by comparing the position of the UAV-calibration signal on the camera focal plane, for a variety of telescope pointing models, we were able to constrain the pointing accuracy of the HESS-I telescopes at the tens of arc-second accuracy level. This is consistent with the pointing accuracy derived from other pointing calibration methods. Importantly both the inter-calibration and pointing accuracy results were achieved with a first-generation UAV-calibration prototype, which eludes to the potential of the technique and highlights that a UAV-based system is a viable calibration technique for current and future ground-based γ-ray telescope arrays.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 7, 2022
Online Publication Date Feb 24, 2022
Publication Date 2022-07
Deposit Date Jun 13, 2022
Publicly Available Date Feb 24, 2023
Journal Astroparticle Physics
Print ISSN 0927-6505
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 140
Article Number 102695
Public URL
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