Statistical reconstruction for cosmic ray muon tomography

IEEE Trans Image Process. 2007 Aug;16(8):1985-93. doi: 10.1109/tip.2007.901239.


Highly penetrating cosmic ray muons constantly shower the earth at a rate of about 1 muon per cm2 per minute. We have developed a technique which exploits the multiple Coulomb scattering of these particles to perform nondestructive inspection without the use of artificial radiation. In prior work [1]-[3], we have described heuristic methods for processing muon data to create reconstructed images. In this paper, we present a maximum likelihood/expectation maximization tomographic reconstruction algorithm designed for the technique. This algorithm borrows much from techniques used in medical imaging, particularly emission tomography, but the statistics of muon scattering dictates differences. We describe the statistical model for multiple scattering, derive the reconstruction algorithm, and present simulated examples. We also propose methods to improve the robustness of the algorithm to experimental errors and events departing from the statistical model.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Cosmic Radiation*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography / methods*