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I was watching the video Video camera installed on rocket that reaches 121,000 ft., and this rocket has a cosmic ray detector. Why is this needed in a rocket?

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Who says this detector is "needed"? –  Georg Oct 10 '11 at 13:22
    
Just eyeballing the kit the "cosmic ray detector" appears to be a mini-Geiger tube; if so it has minimal energy sensitivity (none if they run it in saturation) and no PID capability. Which implies that it is there because they could. –  dmckee Oct 10 '11 at 14:46
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Um, maybe it's to detect cosmic rays? 8-)} –  Keith Thompson Oct 11 '11 at 1:00
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up vote 6 down vote accepted

It isn't needed in a rocket, however if you are going to the effort of sending something up outside the atmosphere (or even just high up within the atmosphere) you might as well try and get some useful data out of it. This might even help you get sponsorship for your rocket, as data from climbs through altitude is useful to a number of academic institutions.

You will also find many rockets taking thermometers and other devices for exactly the same reason.

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