A cosmic-ray observatory is a scientific installation built to detect high-energy-particles coming from space called cosmic rays. This typically includes photons (high-energy light), electrons, protons, and some heavier nuclei, as well as antimatter particles. About 90% of cosmic rays are protons, 9% are alpha particles, and the rest are other particles
It is not yet possible to build image forming optics for cosmic rays, like a Wolter telescope for lower energy X-rays, although some cosmic-ray observatories also look for high energy gamma rays and x-rays. Ultra-high-energy cosmic rays (UHEC) pose further detection problems. One way of learning about cosmic rays is using different detectors to observe aspects of a cosmic ray air shower.
Methods of detection for Gamma-rays.
- Scintillation Detectors
- Solid State Detectors
- Compton Scattering
- Pair Telescopes
- Air Cerenkov Detectors
For example, while a visible light photon may have an energy of a few eV, a cosmic gamma ray may exceed a TeV (1,000,000,000,000 eV). Sometimes cosmic gamma rays (photons) are not grouped with nuclei cosmic rays.
The Explorer 1 satellite launched in 1958 measured cosmic rays. Anton 314 omnidirectional Geiger-Müller tube, designed by Dr. George Ludwig of Iowa's Cosmic Ray Laboratory, detected cosmic rays. It could detect protons with E > 30 MeV and electrons with E > 3 MeV. Most of the time the instrument was saturated;
Sometimes the instrumentation would report the expected cosmic ray count (approximately thirty counts per second) but sometimes it would show a peculiar zero counts per second. The University of Iowa (under Van Allen) noted that all of the zero counts per second reports were from an altitude of 2,000+ km (1,250+ miles) over South America, while passes at 500 km (310 mi) would show the expected level of cosmic rays. Later, after Explorer 3, it was concluded that the original Geiger counter had been overwhelmed ("saturated") by strong radiation coming from a belt of charged particles trapped in space by the Earth's magnetic field. This belt of charged particles is now known as the Van Allen radiation belt.
Cosmic rays were studied aboard the space station Mir in the late 20th century, such as with the SilEye experiment. This studied the relationship between flashes seen by astronauts in space and cosmic rays, the cosmic ray visual phenomena.
Observatories and experiments
There are a number of cosmic ray research initiatives. These include, but are not limited to:
- Ground based
- ALBORZ Observatory
- High Energy Stereoscopic System
- High Resolution Fly's Eye Cosmic Ray Detector
- MAGIC (telescope)
- Pierre Auger Observatory
- Telescope Array Project
- WALTA (Washington Large Area Time Coincidence Array)
- TACTIC 
- JNU SEVAN observaory Professor Saumitra Mukherjee http://asbarez.com/93356/crd%E2%80%99s-sevan-network-expands-to-india%E2%80%99s-jawaharlal-nehru-university/
- Satellite based
Ultra high energy cosmic rays
Observatories for ultra-high-energy cosmic rays:
- MARIACHI - Mixed Apparatus for Radar Investigation of Cosmic-rays of High Ionization located on Long Island, USA.
- GRAPES-3 (Gamma Ray Astronomy PeV EnergieS 3rd establishment) is a project for cosmic ray study with air shower detector array and large area muon detectors at Ooty in southern India.
- LOPES (telescope) - LOFAR PrototypE Station is located in Karlsruhe, Germany is part of the LOFAR project.
- AGASA - Akeno Giant Air Shower Array in Japan
- High Resolution Fly's Eye Cosmic Ray Detector (HiRes)
- Yakutsk Extensive Air Shower Array
- Pierre Auger Observatory
- Extreme Universe Space Observatory
- Telescope Array Project
- Antarctic Impulse Transient Antenna (ANITA) detects ultra-high-energy cosmic neutrinos believed to be caused by ultra-high-energy cosmic rays
- The COSMICi project at FAMU is developing technology for a distributed network of low-cost detectors for UHECR showers in collaboration with MARIACHI.
- Extragalactic cosmic ray
- Gamma-ray telescopes (Alphabetic list)
- Gamma-ray astronomy & X-ray astronomy
- Wolter, H. (1952). "Glancing Incidence Mirror Systems as Imaging Optics for X-rays". Ann. Physik 10: 94. Bibcode:1952AnP...445...94W. doi:10.1002/andp.19524450108.
- Wolter, H. (1952). "A Generalized Schwarschild Mirror Systems For Use at Glancing Incidence for X-ray Imaging". Ann. Physik 10: 286. Bibcode:1952AnP...445..286W. doi:10.1002/andp.19524450410.
- GSFC Gamma-Ray Telescopes & Detectors
- "Explorer-I and Jupiter-C". Data Sheet. Department of Astronautics, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
- "Cosmic-Ray Detector". NSSDC Master Catalog. NASA. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
- Explorer 1 (this version)
- Bidoli V, et al. - Study of cosmic rays and light flashes on board Space Station MIR: the SilEye experiment.(2000) - Universita di Roma
- The Pierre Auger Collaboration (2007). "Correlation of the Highest-Energy Cosmic Rays with Nearby Extragalactic Objects". Science 318 (5852): 938–943. Bibcode:2007Sci...318..938T. doi:10.1126/science.1151124. PMID 17991855.
- Clay, Roger; Dawson, Bruce (1997). Cosmic Bullets: High Energy Particles in Astrophysics. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books. ISBN 0-7382-0139-1. → A good introduction to ultra-high energy cosmic rays.
- Elbert, Jerome W.; Sommers, Paul (1995). "In search of a source for the 320 EeV Fly's Eye cosmic ray". The Astrophysical Journal 441: 151–161. arXiv:astro-ph/9410069. Bibcode:1995ApJ...441..151E. doi:10.1086/175345.
- Seife, Charles (2000). "Fly's Eye Spies Highs in Cosmic Rays' Demise". Science 288 (5469): 1147. doi:10.1126/science.288.5469.1147a.
- "Strange Instrument Built To Solve Mystery Of Cosmic Rays", April 1932, Popular Science
- The Highest Energy Particle Ever Recorded The details of the event from the official site of the Fly's Eye detector.
- John Walker's lively analysis of the 1991 event, published in 1994
- Origin of energetic space particles pinpointed, by Mark Peplow for firstname.lastname@example.org, published January 13, 2005.
- List of cosmic ray detectors