Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Focus on Building Telescope at South Pole

11.12.2008
It's 40 degrees F below zero (with the wind chill) at the South Pole today. Yet a research team from the University of Delaware is taking it all in stride.

The physicists, engineers and technicians from the University of Delaware's Bartol Research Institute are part of an international team working to build the world's largest neutrino telescope in the Antarctic ice, far beneath the continent's snow-covered surface.

Dubbed “IceCube,” the telescope will occupy a cubic kilometer of Antarctica when it is completed in 2011, opening super-sensitive new eyes into the heavens.

“IceCube will provide new information about some of the most violent and far-away astrophysical events in the cosmos,” says Thomas Gaisser, the Martin A. Pomerantz Chaired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Delaware, and one of the project's lead scientists.

The University of Delaware is among 33 institutions worldwide that are contributing to the National Science Foundation project, which is coordinated by the University of Wisconsin.

Besides taking a turn as “on-ice lead” for this year's IceCube construction effort at the South Pole (or simply “Pole,” as the locals call it), Gaisser is managing the University of Delaware's continued deployment of the telescope's surface array of detectors, known as "IceTop."

A huge telescope in the ice

Rather than a giant lens aimed at the heavens, the IceCube telescope consists of kilometer-long strings of 60 optical detectors frozen more than a mile deep in the Antarctic ice like beads on a necklace. Atop each string of deep detectors sits a pair of 600-gallon IceTop tanks, each containing two optical detectors.

Ironically, it takes about seven weeks for the water in the IceTop tanks to freeze perfectly, without bubbles or cracks, which could obstruct the tiny flash that occurs when particles pass through the ice.

Neutrinos are among the most fundamental constituents of matter. Because they have no electrical charge and interact only weakly, these particles can travel millions of miles through space.

Neutrinos can pass right through planets, and they can emerge from deep inside regions of intense radiation such as the accretion disk around a massive black hole.

The surface IceTop detectors measure cascades of particles generated by high-energy cosmic rays showered down from above, while the detectors deep in the ice monitor neutrinos passing up through the planet from below.

When a flash of light is detected, the information is relayed to the nearby IceCube Lab, where the path of the particle can be reconstructed and scientists can trace where it came from, perhaps an exploding star or a black hole.

For Gaisser, this great quest to capture neutrinos is a cosmic journey in more ways than one.

“All of my career at Bartol Research Institute at the University of Delaware has been to study high-energy particles from space,” Gaisser says. “This experiment we're building fulfills all of my dreams. Besides, it's fun to work here,” he notes.

Working in the deep freeze

A drill camp supports each season of the IceCube project in the 24-hour daylight of the Antarctic summer. Drilling is a 24/7 operation with three shifts of drillers.

In the subfreezing temperatures and howling winds, fuel tanks supply generators that make electricity, which is used to heat the water that pulses through the high-pressure hoses that melt the mile-and-a-half-long deep holes into which strings of optical detectors are submerged.

The IceTop team works six days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., retreating to the warmth of the new Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, to sleep, eat, and spend what little free time they have reading, watching movies, exercising, or chatting with fellow “Polies.”

Among the new facility's amenities are constant e-mail communication, a recreation room with enough musical instruments for a band, and a greenhouse where lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes are grown.

Gaisser and senior electronics instrument specialist James Roth, electronics engineer Leonard Shulman, and physicist Paul Evenson will all work on location at the South Pole over the next several weeks, assisted by Hermann Kolanoski, a colleague who is a professor of physics at the Humboldt University in Berlin.

Ten other scientists and graduate students from the University of Delaware Department of Physics and Astronomy also are involved in the effort, from deployment to data analysis. They include David Seckel, John Clem, Chris Elliott, Shahid Hussain, Takao Kuwabara, Bakhtiyar Ruzybayev, Todor Stanev, Serap Tilav and Chen Xu.

Log on to this Web site (http://www.expeditions.udel.edu/antarctica/) through Dec. 21 to read the research team's “Dispatches from the Frozen Frontier.”

Tracey Bryant | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.udel.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form
18.08.2017 | Cornell University

nachricht Astrophysicists explain the mysterious behavior of cosmic rays
18.08.2017 | Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>