High Energy Astroparticle Physics: Exceeding 1020 eV, cosmic rays are the highest energy particles known to exist. What are their accelerators? What are they? How to they obtain these energies? To address these questions, I collaborate on two major experiments. The Pierre Auger Observatory, located in Argentina is the world.s largest ground based detector. JEM-EUSO is a pioneering instrument planned for the international space station.
Interdisciplinary Science: Because high energy cosmic ray detectors observe the earth in unique ways as well as the cosmos, their interdisciplinary reach extends to the atmospheric and earth sciences. For example, the Pierre Auger Observatory also measures transient luminous events that occur in the ionosphere high above certain thunderstorms.
Innovative laser test beam systems for Cosmic Ray Observatories: Test beams of 10^20 eV particles do not exist. Well calibrated laser systems can generate optical signatures in the atmosphere that have similarities to the optical signature generated by cosmic rays. Applications of these systems include detector characterization, artificial sky maps and atmospheric science. The Mines group is responsible for the central laser facilities at the Pierre Auger Observatory and systems for the JEM-EUSO Global Light System.