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Discovery
Cold Flashes: Astrophysics at the South Pole

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NSF South Pole research station

Working surface: The NSF South Pole research station has become a construction site for two generations of neutrino detectors, AMANDA and IceCube. Data collected more than 1.5 kilometers below the ice is helping astrophysicists learn what neutrino messengers can tell us about the universe.

Credit: Robert Morse/University of Wisconsin-Madison. Used by permission.

 

Drillmeisters at work

Drillmeisters at work: Three members of UW's Ice Core Drilling Services lower a photomultiplier tube into a hole drilled for the AMANDA telescope. The team's 50-foot drilling tower can be seen to the left.

Credit: Bruce Koci/University of Wisconsin-Madison Ice Core Drilling Services. Used by permission.

 

two views of hot water drilling

Two views of hot water drilling: A hole drilled for the AMANDA neutrino detector (top) and a water-filled hole photographed at a depth of approximately 2000 meters (bottom). It takes almost 40 hours of nonstop precision drilling to create a hole for IceCube -- 60 centimeters in diameter and 2.5 kilometers deep. "Ideally, you'd like a marble to drop down the center of the hole without ever touching the sides," says Bruce Koci, UW's lead drill engineer.

Credit: Top photo, Robert Morse/University of Wisconsin-Madison; bottom photo, Bruce Koci/University of Wisconsin-Madison Ice Core Drilling Services. Images used by permission.

 

side by side detectors

Side by side detectors: The prototype AMANDA neutrino telescope (represented as a yellow cylinder, upper right) provided the first precision map of high-energy neutrinos detected in Antarctic ice. The new IceCube instrument (consisting of more than 4,800 sensors deployed in long vertical strings) is expected to record far more neutrino events because it will be much larger and reach deeper than AMANDA.

Credit: Diagram courtesy of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Used by permission.

 

South Pole worker attaching a photomultiplier tube

Eyes in the ice: A South Pole worker attaches a photomultiplier tube to the cable that will lower it deep under the ice. The optical devices are encased in glass spheres similar to those used for ocean sensors. When frozen in position, the photomultipliers form a light-sensitive network for detecting neutrinos passing through Antarctica.

Credit: Bruce Koci/University of Wisconsin-Madison Ice Core Drilling Services. Used by permission.

 



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