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Journal Article



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Astroparticle Physics



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The General AntiParticle Spectrometer experiment (GAPS) is foreseen to carry out a dark matter search using low-energy cosmic ray antideuterons at stratospheric altitudes with a novel detection approach. A prototype flight from Taiki, Japan was carried out in June 2012 to prove the performance of the GAPS instrument subsystems (Lithium-drifted Silicon tracker and time-of-flight) and the thermal cooling concept as well as to measure background levels. The flight was a success and the stable flight operation of the GAPS detector concept was proven. During the flight about 106 charged particle triggers were recorded, extensive X-ray calibrations of the individual tracker modules were performed by using an onboard X-ray tube, and the background level of atmospheric and cosmic X-rays was measured. The behavior of the tracker performance as a function of temperature was investigated. The tracks of charged particle events were reconstructed and used to study the tracking resolution, the detection efficiency of the tracker, and coherent X-ray backgrounds. A timing calibration of the time-of-flight subsystem was performed to measure the particle velocity. The flux as a function of flight altitude and as a function of velocity was extracted taking into account systematic instrumental effects. The developed analysis techniques will form the basis for future flights.