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IceCube In Ice Antarctic Telescope 2012

Upcoming events with the team at South Pole!
Join the IceCube team at South Pole Station, Antarctica for webinars on the science and life in the field. These webinars are not hosted through the PolarConnect system but you can sign up and learn more here: Cold Continent Hot Science Webcasts.

Event Dates:

  • Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 10am AKST [11am PST, 12pm MST, 1pm CST, 2pm EST]
  • Thursday, Dec. 13 at 10am AKST [11am PST, 12pm MST, 1pm CST, 2pm EST]
  • Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 10am AKST [11am PST, 12pm MST, 1pm CST, 2pm EST]
  • Tuesday, Jan. 8 at 7:30am AKST [8:30am PST, 9:30am MST, 10:30am CST, 11:30 EST]
  • Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 7:30am AKST [8:30am PST, 9:30am MST, 10:30am CST, 11:30 EST]

Meet the Team

Teacher - Liz Ratliff

Liz Ratliff's picture
Gaston Day School
Gastonia , North Carolina
United States

Liz Ratliff started her career as an electrical engineer. After working in the computer industry, she went back to school to become a math teacher. Mrs Ratliff has taught at the middle school and high school level and is currently working at Gaston Day School in Gastonia, North Carolina. Since 2008, Mrs Ratliff has also been a Knowles Science Teaching Foundation fellow. Through this fellowship, she has worked with teachers across the country to develop engaging and effective lessons. In addition, it was at KSTF meeting that she first met the IceCube team. Outside of the academic world, Mrs. Ratliff enjoys learning new things and has spent her life trying out various hobbies including flying, playing bagpipes, learning languages, knitting, fencing, wood carving, etc. She's now working on the difficult and time-consuming (but very rewarding) hobby of raising her two-year old daughter.

Researcher - Jim Madsen

Jim Madsen's picture
University of Wisconsin River Falls
River Falls , Wisconsin
United States

Dr. Madsen is the chair of the Physics Department at UW-River Falls, and the Director of Education and Outreach for the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center (WIPAC). His research interests include heliophysics and astrophysics, which he has studied at his various projects in Antarctica. In addition to research, Dr. Madsen is committed to reaching a broad audience beyond the research community. He is involved in education and outreach for the IceCube project including professional development courses for teachers and science and math instruction for the UWRF Upward Bound Program. He collaborates with a number of programs and institutions in addition to PolarTREC, including the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation, UW-River Falls Upward Bound and McNair Programs, and service groups (Rotary International, Boy and Girl Scouts, university alumni associations, etc.). You can read more about Dr. Madsen's work here and here.

Journals

January 20, 2013 Deployment

ARA37 layout
ARA is going to have 37 stations laid out like this:

January 16, 2013 It's not over till it's over

I got really wrapped up in working and living at the South Pole and I didn't have time to get all of my blogs finished/uploaded. I'm home now though and back into the routine of things, so for the next couple of weeks, I'll be uploading those blogs. Here are some of the topics to look forward to...

December 31, 2012 ARA3!

A3D6 finished!
When I woke up this morning (in my own house back in South Carolina), I had this waiting in my email for me:

December 29, 2012 Giving Thanks

Flying home is a sobering thing. I'm really sad to be leaving. I will miss the work - I love drilling - and I will miss the people terribly. To the drillers (Darrell, Terry, Thomas, Dave, Rob, Jim, and James): Thank you for taking me uder your wings and teaching me to drill. I know you don't...

December 27, 2012 Leaving the Station

Penguins at the South Pole
To leave the South Pole, there are a few things you have to do. First, bag drag (i.e. pack up your checked luggage and move it to Destination Zulu aka DZ) by 3pm the day before your flight. Then, go take all the pictures you can stand at the geographic and ceremonial South Poles.

Project Information

Amundson-Scott South Pole station
Amundson-Scott South Pole Station
1 December 2012
28 December 2012

Where are They?

View over the South Pole Station
View over the South Pole Station
The team will be working at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica—the southernmost continually inhabited place on the planet. The IceCube site is about one kilometer from the new South Pole station, which supplies the necessary logistics of food, power, and shelter. The South Pole is reached by plane from McMurdo Station on the coast of Antarctica from October through February after which time temperatures are too cold for planes to safely operate. Approximately 50 people stay there the rest of the year, which is known as wintering over. IceCube has two to three people dedicated to overseeing the operation of the telescope during this period at the South Pole.

What are they Doing?

The building that houses the IceCube project
The building that houses the IceCube project
A large international team of scientists and drilling technicians will be working throughout the austral summer to continue testing with the world's largest scientific instrument, the in-ice IceCube Neutrino Detector. Neutrinos are incredibly common (about 10 million pass through your body as you read this) subatomic particles that have no electric charge and almost no mass. They are created by radioactive decay and nuclear reactions, such as those on the Sun and other stars. Neutrinos rarely react with other particles or forces; in fact, most of them pass through objects (like the earth) without any interaction. This makes them ideal for carrying information from distant parts of the universe, but it also makes them very hard to detect. All neutrino detectors rely on observing the extremely rare instances when a neutrino does collide with a proton. This collision transforms the neutrino into a muon, a charged particle that can travel for 5-10 miles and generate detectable light.

IceCube is located in Antarctica because the huge amount of dense ice under the South Pole contains many protons that can be hit by passing neutrinos, and the ice is transparent, so the resulting light can be detected by sensors. IceCube is made up of 4200 sensitive light detectors embedded in the ice at depths between 1450 and 2450 meters (4700-8000 feet). The sensors are deployed on "strings" of 60 modules each, into holes 60 cm in diameter in the ice melted using a hot water drill. Encompassing a cubic kilometer of ice, IceCube expands on an existing experiment that started detecting neutrinos at the South Pole in 1997. When IceCube is complete, it may detect up to 300,000 neutrinos a year for up to 20 years.

The data collected will be used to make a "neutrino map" of the universe and to learn more about astronomical phenomena, like gamma ray bursts, black holes, exploding stars, and other aspects of nuclear and particle physics. However, the true potential of IceCube is discovery; the opening of each new astronomical window has led to unexpected discoveries.

Resources

Title Date About Type
Teacher Describes South Pole Work 7 January 2013 An article describing the work done by PolarTREC teacher, Liz Ratliff, during her trip to the South... Article
Teacher Bringing South Pole to Classroom 3 November 2012 The Gaston Gazette article outlining PolarTREC teacher Liz Ratliff's upcoming expedition to South... Article
Liz Ratliff heads to the South Pole 21 November 2012 This local TV interview is about PolarTREC teacher Liz Ratliff heading to South Pole Station,... Video
Chena Hot Springs A trip to the Chena Hot Springs in Fairbanks, Alaska. There are images from the ice museum,... Video

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