Minimize ISS: CALET

ISS Utilization: CALET (CALorimetric Electron Telescope)

Overview   Launch   Mission Status   References

CALET is an astrophysics mission of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and Japanese Universities that will search for signatures of dark matter and provide the highest energy direct measurements of the cosmic ray electron spectrum. CALET is to be installed on the JEM-EF ( Exposed Facility) for long-term observations. The objectives are to study the following: 1) 2)

1) The origin and the mechanisms of acceleration of high-energy cosmic rays and gamma rays

2) The propagation mechanism of cosmic rays throughout the galaxy

3) The search for signatures of dark matter has become a focus of particle astrophysics since dark matter is hypothesized to be one of the major constituents of the universe.

As a cosmic ray observatory, CALET aims to clarify high energy space phenomena and dark matter. from two perspectives; one is particle creation and annihilation in the field of particle physics (or nuclear physics) and the other is particle acceleration and propagation in the field of space physics.

Investigators will measure these particles using a high-resolution telescope. The investigation addresses many unresolved high-energy astrophysics questions that have puzzled scientists for decades, such as the origin of cosmic rays, how cosmic rays accelerate and travel across the galaxy, and whether dark matter and nearby cosmic ray sources exist. The investigation also may help characterize the radiation environment and the risks it may pose to humans in space. Additionally, CALET's long exposure in space may yield evidence of rare interactions between "normal" matter and dark matter.

Cooperation agreements: 3)

JAXA and ASI (Italian Space Agency) made an arrangement in 2011 for the cooperation on CALET mission. According to the agreement, JAXA will provide, beside the main development of the mission, scientific data of CALET to ASI. In reverse, ASI will provide to JAXA the HVPS (High Voltage Power Supply) units for CGBM (CALET Gamma-Ray Burst Monitor) and CAL on board CALET along with scientific and technical supports by Italian researchers belonging to Italian Institutes led by CNR-IFAC and the University of Siena. These researchers have experience on a similar space observation mission. This collaboration will mitigate the risk of new hardware development and maximize the worldwide scientific achievement. 4)

CALET is a joint research project of JAXA and Waseda University led by Professor Shoji Torii (Faculty of Science and Engineering, Waseda University). Among the Japanese team, 22 research institutes such as Kanagawa University, Aoyama Gakuin University, and the Institute for Comic Ray Research, University of Tokyo, are also participating in this project.

In addition, NASA and American researchers provided the project with technical support for the cosmic rays observation sensor technology, while ASI and Italian researchers assisted with high-voltage power and cosmic rays observation sensor technology. Both of them will mutually cooperate in analyzing CALET observation data.



CALET instrument:

The CALET "pallet" for the mission, illustrated in Figure 1, contains a star tracker (ASC) a gamma-ray burst monitor (GBM: SGM and HXM), the mission data controller (MDC) and the main telescope (CAL). The star tracker will provide fine pointing knowledge for observed sources or for events seen by the GRB monitor. This mission equipment fills the standard pallet which has been successfully tested in an HTV launch as well as being in use for current experiments on the JEM-EF. CALET will employ the ISS cooling loop and the heat exchange piping. 5)


Figure 1: The CALET "pallet" installments for the mission; it consists of the "Main detector" (CAL and GBM) and "Support equipments" (GPSR, ASC etc.), image credit: Waseda University


Figure 2: Alternate view of the CALET instrument and its components (image credit: JAXA, ASI)

CALET is capable of making direct measurements at the highest energy levels in the cosmic ray electron spectrum for the observation of discrete sources of high energy particle acceleration in our local region within the Milky Way. The telescope payload has a mass of 650 kg and looks forward to a two to five-year stay attached to the JEM-EF (Japanese Experiment Module Exposed Facility), Port #9, looking in the zenith direction (Figure 7).

CALET consists of a detector system and data processing units, support sensors and an interface unit that attaches the payload to the Exposed Facility. The detector system is comprised of a CHD ( Charge Detector), an IMC (Imaging Calorimeter), a TASC (Total Absorption Calorimeter) and the CGBM (CALET Gamma-Ray Burst Monitor). The support sensors include a GPS receiver and an ASC (Advanced Stellar Compass) for precise position and orientation determination.

The CALET instrument interfaces with the JEM-EF via a standard FRAM (Flight Releasable Attachment Mechanism) which includes power and data interfaces with the Station's systems. CALET requires a peak power of 650 W and operates at data rates of 35 kbit/s in low data mode and 600 kbit/s in high data mode. The payload has a size of 1.85 x 0.8 x 1.0 m , complying with the envelope available for external JEM-EF payloads.

The CHD system consists of two layers each consisting of 14 organic scintillator paddles provided by ELJEN Technology. Each of the paddles measures 45 x 3.2 x 1 cm with the different layers arranged orthogonally. The organic scintillator material absorbs the energy of incident ionizing radiation and re-emits the absorbed energy in the form of light that can be measured in a detector. CALET uses PMTs (Photomultiplier Tubes) with 8 mm photocathodes to detect the emission of radiation from each scintillator paddle. Through data processing, the charge of each incident particle can be measured in a range from Z=1 to Z=40.


Figure 3: Schematic of the CALET CHD (Charge Detector) system (image credit: JAXA)

Imaging Calorimeters are characterized by a finely granulated readout with a high degree of segmentation featuring a large number of readout channels as opposed to conventional calorimeters consisting of large crystals connected to a single read-out channel. This allows for a detailed measurement of particle identity, travel direction and energy as well as the creation of particle flow algorithms. Imaging Calorimeters have a sandwiched design, alternating between active detector elements and passive absorber elements.

The CALET Imaging Calorimeter makes use of seven tungsten plates as absorbers and 16 layers of 448 scintillating fibers, one stack of eight layers in the x-plane, the other in the y-plane to enable directional measurements.


Figure 4: The CALET imaging capabilities (image credit: JAXA, ASI)

Each of the fibers measures 44.8 x 0.1 x 0.1 cm. Emissions from the fibers are read out by a suite of multi-anode (64) photomultipliers coupled to Readout Electronics based on application-specific integrated circuits that digitize the signals from each fiber with precise time-stamps for event logging. The arrangement of active elements within the system has been chosen to provide the precision necessary to separate incident particles from backscattered particles, precisely determine the starting point of the shower and determine the incident particle trajectory. The primary purpose of the CALET Imaging Calorimeter is the measurement of particle direction while the energy measurement is accomplished with the Total Absorption Calorimeter.

Located atop the Imaging Calorimeter is a silicon detector array consisting of two layers with 6,400 pixels, each square in shape with a side length of 1.125 cm and a thickness of 500 µm. The silicon detector array delivers the necessary charge resolution for the measurement of light and heavy nuclei.

The Total Absorption Calorimeter consists of 12 layers each comprised of 16 lead-tungstate logs that act as absorbing material, each measuring 32.6 x 1.9 x 2.0 cm. Subsequent layers are arranged orthogonally. Events are triggered by a PMT that is located atop the uppermost layer to send a start pulse. The remaining layers feature avalanche photodiodes for the measurement of the depth of penetration of any given particle to assess its energy. The Total Absorption Calorimeter has a field of view of 45º around the zenith. It separates electrons and gamma rays from incident hadrons.


Figure 5: Photos of the Imaging Calorimeter (left) and of the Total Absorption Calorimeter (right), image credit: JAXA)

A separate CGBM (CALET Gamma-ray Burst Monitor) can detect particle events from a few keV X-rays to gamma-rays in the TeV range with durations varying from short duration gamma ray bursts, x-ray flashes to longer burst events. It has a time resolution of 62.5 ms and an energy range of 3% at 10 GeV. Two components make up the CGBM, the SGM (Soft Gamma-ray Monitor) and the HXM (Hard X-ray Monitor). SGM uses a single Bismuth Germanate scintillator of size 102 x 76 mm, covering an energy range of 100 to 20,000 keV. The HXM features a dual detector element using Lanthanum Bromide scintillators 12.7 mm thick and 66 x 79 cm in diameter. It covers an energy range of 7 to 1,000 keV. A Beryllium entrance window is used for the measurement of soft X-rays below 10 keV.


Figure 6: The components of the CGBM (image credit: JAXA, ASI)

The non-detecting area of the entire CALET detector system is surrounded by a segmented scintillator array to serve as an Anti-Coincidence Detector, being triggered by all particles arriving from a direction that does not strike a detector from above, instructing the instrument to reject that measurement.

The thickness of the calorimeter sensors allows measurements well into the TeV (Tera Electron Volt) energy region with excellent energy resolution. The coupling of an imaging and total absorption calorimeter permits an accurate identification of the starting point of electromagnetic showers as well as the lateral and longitudinal development of showers.

CALET will deliver electron spectra in the trans-TeV region to look for nearby cosmic-ray sources, it will track dark matter annihilation electron/positron signatures in electron/gamma energy spectra at energies of 10 GeV to 10 TeV, it will provide spectral data sets starting with protons to heavier elements up to iron at 20 TeV/n plus heavier elements (Z=26-40) at a few GeV/n. CALET will also measure the electron flux at energies below 10 GeV to support solar physics and record Gamma-ray and X-ray events in the low-energy range from 3 keV to 30 MeV. Gamma-ray measurements for an indirect measurement of dark matter decay will also be supported by CALET.

CALET delivers its data flow to the ISS Data System where science data is stored or downlinked in realtime depending on TDRSS availability. Downlinked data is relayed to the MSFC (Marshall Spaceflight Center) from where raw data is transmitted to Tsukuba Space Center, going through the JAXA Operations Control System to reach the CALET Ground System. Raw data is directed to an archiving system and to the various processing locations where higher science products from Level 1 quick look data to Level 3 calibrated calorimeter and Gamma-ray Burst Monitor data is created, archived and made available via a web server.


Figure 7: Illustration of the CALET instrument mounting at Port #9 of JEM-EF (image credit: NASA, JAXA, ASI)


Launch: The CALET instrumentation was launched on the HTV-5 vehicle (nicknamed Kounotori 5) of JAXA on August 19, 2015 at 11:50:49 UTC from the Tanegashima Launch Center, Japan. The launch vehicle was H-IIB of MHI (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.) and CALET was part of the payload of HTV-5. The launch vehicle flew smoothly, and, at about 14 minutes and 54 seconds after liftoff, the separation of the Kounotori-5 was confirmed. 6)

Orbit: Near-circular orbit, altitude of ~400 km to ISS, inclination =51.6°.



Status of the CALET mission:

• September 2016: CALET was successfully launched on Aug. 19, 2015, and the detector is being very stable for observation since Oct. 13, 2015. As of Aug.19, 2016, nearly 200 million events are collected with high energy trigger. 7)

- Careful calibrations have been adopted by using MIP (Minimum Ionizing Particle) signals of the non-interacting p & He events, and the linearity in the energy measurements up to 106 MIPs is established within a few % by using observe shower events. As a result, the TASC energy measurement is confirmed to be: (1) Errors over 10 GeV are less than a few %. (2) Energy resolution is less than 2 % over 100 GeV for electromagnetic showers. (3) TASC energy deposits are successfully measured up to 500 TeV.

- Electron selection is carried out with 90% efficiency cut up to 1 TeV, and 1.14 x 106 electron candidates are selected over 10 GeV among 1.47 x 108 triggered events. Electron event candidates have been observed above 1 TeV.

- Cosmic rays from proton to Fe and Ultra Heavy ions (26 < Z < 40), as well as gamma rays have been detected. Energy spectra, relative elemental abundances and secondary-to-primary ratios are being measured.

- CALET's CGBM (CALET Gamma-ray Burst Monitor) has measured the light curves of 30 GRB's as of July, 2016.

- 5-year observations are planned.

• July 6, 2016: The CALET instrument onboard Kibo of the ISS since 2015 has succeeded in observing a tremendous shower of electrons called REP (Relativistic Electron Precipitation) for a few minutes as the ISS passed through a high geomagnetic latitude area, 8) indicating that REP had also occurred around the ISS. From the data obtained, REP is considered to be electrons precipitated from the Van Allen radiation belts that were affected by electromagnetic ion cyclotron waves. 9)

- As REP can damage satellite electronics and be a cause of ozone destruction in the middle atmosphere, further study may contribute to the prediction of space weather and atmospheric chemistry. The result of the study was published online in Geophysical Research Letters dated May 7, 2016. 10)

The CHD (Charge Detector) of CALET has a huge geometric factor for detecting MeV electrons and is sensitive to relativistic electron precipitation (REP) events. During the first 4 months, the CHD observed REP events mainly at the dusk to midnight sector near the plasmapause, where the trapped radiation belt electrons can be efficiently scattered by EMIC (Electromagnetic Ion Cyclotron) waves.

• Feb. 23, 2016: CALET observation data will be available for worldwide use in 2 years and all researchers are free to use this valuable observation data. 11)

• January 15, 2016: CALET has commenced operations on the ISS and will measure the spectrum of electron/positron cosmic rays well into the TeV range. An extra source emitting an equal amount of electrons and positrons may provide an explanation for the positron excess in cosmic rays. The prime candidates for this source are nearby PWN (Pulsar Wind Nebulae) and Dark Matter annihilation or decay. The current measurements of positron fraction and total electron/positron flux allow a wide range of scenarios of either source type or a combination. CALET data will allow for identification of the extra source or significantly constrain it's properties. 12)

In summary:

- The first time direct measurement of the TeV-region electron/positron spectrum by CALET reveals new information on Dark Matter annihilation or decay in the galactic halo.

- If data indicates that the positron excess is from a nearby PWN, the limit on Dark Matter annihilation can be improved by up to a factor 10 (e+ +e-channel).

- A Dark Matter explanation of the positron excess can be clearly identified for Dark Matter candidates including a significant fraction of direct annhilation to e++e- or decay toW±+e ±up into the TeV-mass range.

• October 22, 2015: The CALET instrument aboard Kibo started the first direct electron observation in the TeV (Tera Electron Volt) region (Ref. 13). Figure 8 shows a high-energy cosmic ray (electron candidate) incoming to the calorimeter observed by three instruments of the calorimeter (CHD: Charge Detector, IMC: Imaging Calorimeter, and TASC: Total Absorption Calorimeter). 13) 14)

- Based on the number of shower particles (that is proportional to energy) detected by each sensor, the image indicates the process that cosmic rays coming from above was generating shower particles within the calorimeter in colors from blue (low) to red (high).

- With this kind of imaging technology of cosmic rays, the project can determine the type (electrons, gamma-rays, proton/atomic nucleus), the incoming direction and the energy. The left figure is an image viewed from the X-direction, and the right one is from the Y-direction. Using them both, 3D data processing becomes possible.

- CALET will move to regular observation mode after data calibration and verification to perform high-precision observations for over two years. The project will achieve their observation goals through statistical processing with fewer errors.


Figure 8: Electron event image in the TeV region observed on Oct. 14 during the initial verification and data calibration (presented by particle number converted from pulse height), image credit: JAXA, Waseda University


Figure 9: Event image acquired at higher sensitivity (top) and lower sensitivity (bottom). It is the raw data for the event image of electrons (candidates) in the TeV region shown in Figure 8 (image credit: JAXA, Waseda University)


Figure 10: Kibo EF (Exposed Facility) configuration (as of October, 2015. Credit: JAXA/NASA) 15)

• On August 25, 2015 (2:29 UTC), the CALET instrument was transferred by the Kibo's robotic arm, namely JEMRMS (JEM Remote Manipulator System) and installed to the Kibo's Exposed Facility (EF). 16) 17)


Figure 11: Photo of CALET being transferred from the EP (Exposed Pallet) to the EF (Exposed Facility) using the JEMRMS (image credit: JAXA, NASA)

• Japan's HTV-5 cargo freighter completed a five-day flight to the International Space Station on August 24, 2015, making a glacial laser-guided approach to the complex with a 4,300 kg package of food, spare parts and experiments. 18)

- Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui took control of the space station's Canadarm2 and latched on to the free-floating HTV-5 supply ship at 10:28 GMT as the complex soared some 400 km over the coast of Brazil.

- A few hours later, the robot arm positioned the 10 m long HTV -5 cargo craft on the Earth-facing port of the space station's Harmony module, where 16 bolts drove closed to firmly attach the visiting spaceship to the massive orbiting research lab.


Figure 12: Photo of the HTV-5 supply ship arrival at the station and capture with Canadarm2 (image credit: NASA, John Kelly)


1) "CALorimetric Electron Telescope (CALET)," JAXA, April 24, 2015, URL:

2) Andrea Dunn, "Stork Set to Make Special Space Station Delivery," NASA, August 14, 2015, URL:

3) "About the cooperation of JAXA and ASI in the development of CALET," JAXA, URL:

4) Pier Simone Marrocchesi for the CALET collaboration, "CALET on the ISS: a high energy astroparticle physics experiment," XIV International Conference on Topics in Astroparticle and Underground Physics (TAUP 2015) IOP Publishing Journal of Physics: Conference Series 718 (2016) 052023, doi:10.1088/1742-6596/718/5/052023, URL:

5) "CALET CALorimetric Electron Telescope -Instrument," Waseda University, July 12, 2015, URL:

6) "Launch Success of H-II Transfer Vehicle Kounotori-5," JAXA Press Release, Aug. 19, 2015, URL:

7) Shoji Torii for the CALET collaboration, "The CALorimetric Electron Telescope(CALET) : In-flight performance and preliminary results," TeVPA2016 (TeV Particle Astrophysics) Conference @CERN, September 12-16,2016, URL:

8) Note: Geomagnetic latitude: The bearing of geomagnetic latitude is determined based on the magnetic poles of Earth, not on such axis as the geographic latitude.

9) "CALET has succeeded in observing electron precipitation," National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR), Waseda University, JAXA, July 6, 2016, URL:

10) Ryuho Kataoka, Yoichi Asaoka, Shoji Torii, Toshio Terasawa, Shunzuke Ozawa, Tadahisa Tamura, Yuki Shimizu, Yosui Akaike, Masaki Mori, "Relativistic electron precipitation at International Space Station: Space weather monitoring by Calorimetric Electron Telescope,"Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 43, Issue 9, 16 May 2016, pp: 4119–4125, DOI: 10.1002/2016GL068930

11) Koki Oikawa, "Maximizing Benefits through ISS/Kibo," The 53rd Session of Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, Vienna, Austria, Feb. 15-26, 2016, URL:

12) Holger Motz, Yoichi Asaoka, Shoji Torii, Saptashwa Bhattacharyya , Yosui Akaike, "Ability of CALET to Identify or Constrain Dark Matter Annihilation and Decay in the Galactic Halo," The 16th Space Science Symposium, URL:

13) CALorimetric Electron Telescope (CALET) aboard the ISS "Kibo" Started the First Direct Electron Observation in Tera Electron Volt Region," JAXA Press Release, October 22, 2015, URL:

14) CALET brochure, JAXA, URL:

15) "Exposed Facility (EF) Payloads," JAXA, 2016, URL:

16) "CALET installation completed," JAXA, Aug. 26, 2015, URL:

17) Shoji Torii for the CALET collaboration, "The CALorimetric Electron Telescope (CALET): High Energy Astroparticle Physics Observatory on the International Space Station," The 34th International Cosmic Ray Conference, 30 July- 6 August, 2015, The Hague, The Netherlands, URL:

18) Stephen Clark, "Japanese HTV supply carrier reaches space station," Spaceflight Now, August 24, 2015, URL:


The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: "Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors" (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (

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