National Centre for Nuclear Research
Astrophysics Division
Cosmic Ray Laboratory

90-558 Łódź
ul. 28 Pułku Strzelców Kaniowskich 69
tel./fax (+48 +42) 6786431
tel./fax (+48 +42) 6783223

The KASCADE-Grande Experiment

at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology - Campus North (KIT)
former Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe / Germany



KASCADE-Grande


KASCADE-Grande is a large ground-based extensive air shower experiment array to study the cosmic ray primary composition and the hadronic interactions in the energy range E0 = 1016 - 1018 eV.

The experiment is situated on site of the Research Center Karlsruhe (KIT-Campus North - 49,1o N, 8,4o W) at 110 m a.s.l., corresponding to an average athmospheric depth of 1022 g/cm2. It measures simultaneously the electromagnetic, muonic and hadronic components of extensive air showers of cosmic rays. As an extension of the former KASCADE experiment running successfully since 1996, KASCADE-Grande was built by reassembling 37 stations of the former EAS-TOP experiment -basically the electromagnetic detectors - running between 1987 and 2000 at Campo Imperatore, Gran Sasso Laboratories, Italy.

One of the main results obtained by these two experiments is a picture of increasingly heavier composition above the 'knee' caused by a break in the spectrum of the light components. Conventional acceleration models predict a change of the composition towards heavier components. The discovery of the knee in the heavy components, represented by iron, would be a convincing verification of these theories. From the observed rigidity dependent breaks of the spectra of different lighter primaries observed between 1014 eV and 1016 eV, the iron 'knee' is expected around E0 = 1017 eV.

Experiment has been built by an international collaboration, with the participation from the very beginning, i.e. since 1989, of scientists from Lodz laboratories of cosmic ray research, from Soltan Institute of Nuclear Studies (SINS) and Lodz University, led by prof. Jerzy Wdowczyk. SINS has been the leading institution in the Polish group. Initially, in the KASCADE Collaboration there were scientists from Germany, Poland and Romania. Currently, the KASCADE-Grande Collaboration consists of 10 institutes in 8 countries.

Since 1996 prof. Janusz Zabierowski has been the leader of Polish group in the Collaboration. He is currently also the chairman of the Collaboration Board and the Steering Committee of KASCADE-Grande Collaboration. Now only scientists from SINS are the members of the collaboration (currently P. Łuczak and
J. Zabierowski). Over all years in the KASCADE Collaboration participated, in total, 10 persons from SINS and Lodz University.
Polish group has made significant hardware and software contributions into the experiment. In our laboratories in Lodz the full set of electronic modules (over 100 VME blocks containing programmable logic on the 4-layer PC-boards) were designed and manufactured, and then shipped to Karlsruhe [1].
Another large hardware project realized in Lodz was the design and manufacture of the prototype front-end electronics for the streamer tube Muon Tracking Detector in KASCADE. In Lodz the software to control the automatic PC-board assembly machines was also prepared and under our supervision in Karlsruhe 758 front-end boards were produced for nearly 25 000 detector channels [2,3].

Detailed description of the experiment, as well as the actual list of publications being the result of the analyses of the experimental data, can be found on the KASCADE-Grande web page.

On March, 30st 2009 KASCADE-Grande was officially shut down with a big symposium at Forschungszentrum Karsruhe. Some components of KASCADE-Grande are still running serving as a test facility for the Radio Antenna Array LOPES - in which SINS is also an institutional member of the collaboration - and some other test setups (HISPARC, TAUWER, Lightning Mapping Array LMA) using the advantage of a well calibrated Air Shower experiment.

[1] J. Zabierowski, H.O. Klages and H, Schiller, The trigger unit for the detector array of the KASCADE experiment, Nucl. Instrum. Meth. A 354:496-500,1995;

[2] J. Zabierowski and P. Doll, Front-end readout boards for streamer tube muon tracking detector in the KASCADE EAS Experiment, Nucl. Instrum. Meth. A 484:528-532,2002;

[3] P. Doll,....., J. Zabierowski et al., Muon tracking detector for the air shower experiment KASCADE, Nucl. Instrum. Meth. A 488:517-535,2002.