Teacher Ric Thuma and Dr. Madsen will be hosting several PolarConnect events over the duration of their stay in McMurdo, Antarctica. For more information and to register, fill out this form.

What Are They Doing?

The circuit board of the cosmic ray detector. Photo by Juan Botella.
The circuit board of the cosmic ray detector. Photo by Juan Botella.
Neutron monitors are used to study cosmic rays, and indirectly the sun, which occasionally undergoes solar storms that produce bursts of energetic particles. We are interested in learning more about the energy range and abundance of the particles produced in these events, which is important for understanding how to protect electronics and the electrical grid from extreme space weather events. The McMurdo deployment will involve dismantling two neutron monitors and if possible, the South Pole deployment will be to perform routine maintenance.

Where Are They?

McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Photo by Tim Spuck.
McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Photo by Tim Spuck.
We will be staying at McMurdo station, and working at the CosRay building, which is a short hike from the station, just beyond Observation Hill. The neutron monitor project is the longest continuously running experiment in Antarctica. The neutron monitors will be reassembled and continue operating at the Korean Antarctic base Jang Bogo. One neutron monitor station formally at CosRay was redeployed at Jang Bogo in December 2015 so this project will maintain a continuous data record in Antarctica starting in 1961.

Latest Journals

Saying goodbye to McMurdo Well, I arrived home just in time for my little girl's birthday. I got in at 7:30 PM last night and got to sleep by midnight. I hit the ground running at 5:30 this morning. I'm not too jet lagged, so back to real life. I have forms to fill out and exams to give. I've got…
McMurdo from above. IF the weather cooperates this will be my last day in McMurdo (and that is a big if). I am scheduled to bag drag tonight and then begin the long trek home tomorrow, as long as Antartica cooperates. I've absolutely got mixed feelings. This place is beautiful but it is harsh. The…
Nations with regular operations in Antartica are bound by the Antarctic Treaty of 1959. The 12 original nations to adopt the Antarctic treaty were Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Soviet Union, Japan, South Africa, and Belgium, but…
Today I got to spend part of the day in the McMurdo Ice Sheet. This was really my first time in the field, most of my responsibilities have been on Station so far so this was a real treat.This is near the transition zone. There were better pictures showing pressure ridges but none of those showed…
McMurdo Station and Amundsen-Scott Station, Antarctica
Project Funded Title
Collaborative Research: Neutron Monitor Observations of Cosmic Rays from Jang Bogo and McMurdo and Collaborative Research: Element Composition of High Energy Solar Particles
Eric Thuma - Teacher
Stoney Creek High School

Eric Thuma has been teaching in Rochester, Michigan for 19 years. He has had the pleasure of teaching physics, astronomy, and geology during that time. Eric has also been teaching Astronomy at Macomb Community College since 2014. He graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in astrophysics and holds Master’s degrees in Education and Astronomy. Recently, he has worked as an educator researcher for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. His enthusiasm for sharing research with students is what has led him to seek out the PolarTREC experience.

Jim Madsen - Researcher
University of Wisconsin River Falls

Dr. Madsen is the chair of the Physics Department at UW-River Falls and Associate Director of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory where he directs the education and outreach program. 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.

"Working in Antarctica is a wonderful adventure, and it is great to provide opportunities for others to have this awesome experience."

Antarctic Neutron Monitors For Solar Study Resources

Presentation prepared for the Rochester Community Schools Board of Education related to the PolarTREC 2017 Neutron Monitors for Solar Study expedition.

Less than 1 period
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Eric Thuma, a physics teacher at Stoney Creek High School, recently spent three weeks in Antarctica assisting in scientific polar research.

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Students will examine sunspots and track them at different latitudes on the Sun.

This activity is adapted from the Tracking Sunspots activity on NASA’s Solar and Heliocentric Observatory (SOHO) website (2009): https://soho.nascom.nasa.gov/classroom/for_students.html.

About 1 period
Middle School and Up
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Local news source in Rochester, MI covers the deployment of Eric Thuma to McMurdo Station.

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