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Journal Article

The upgrade of the HESS cameras


Hinton,  J.
Division Prof. Dr. James A. Hinton, MPI for Nuclear Physics, Max Planck Society;


Marandon,  Vincent
Division Prof. Dr. James A. Hinton, MPI for Nuclear Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Giavitto, G., Ashton, T., Balzer, A., Berge, D., Brun, F., Chaminade, T., et al. (2017). The upgrade of the HESS cameras. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment, 876, 35-38. doi:10.1016/j.nima.2016.12.057.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0000-BAF2-D
The High Energy Stereoscopic System (HESS) is an array of imaging atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes (IACTs) located in the Khomas highland in Namibia. It was built to detect Very High Energy (VHE > 100 GeV) cosmic gamma rays. Since 2003, HESS has discovered the majority of the known astrophysical VHE gamma-ray sources, opening a new observational window on the extreme non-thermal processes at work in our universe. HESS consists of four 12-m diameter Cherenkov telescopes (CT1-4), which started data taking in 2002, and a larger 28-m telescope (CT5), built in 2012, which lowers the energy threshold of the array to 30 GeV. The cameras of CT1-4 are currently undergoing an extensive upgrade, with the goals of reducing their failure rate, reducing their readout dead time and improving the overall performance of the array. The entire camera electronics has been renewed from ground-up, as well as the power, ventilation and pneumatics systems, and the control and data acquisition software. Only the PMTs and their HV supplies have been kept from the original cameras. Novel technical solutions have been introduced, which will find their way into some of the Cherenkov cameras foreseen for the next-generation Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) observatory. In particular, the camera readout system is the first large-scale system based on the analog memory chip NECTAr, which was designed for CTA cameras. The camera control subsystems and the control software framework also pursue an innovative design, exploiting cutting-edge hardware and software solutions which excel in performance, robustness and flexibility. The CT1 camera has been upgraded in July 2015 and is currently taking data; CT2-4 have been upgraded in fall 2016. Together they will assure continuous operation of HESS at its full sensitivity until and possibly beyond the advent of CTA. This contribution describes the design, the testing and the in-lab and on-site performance of all components of the newly upgraded HESS camera.