Well, I finally had a picture made of myself at the Geographic South Pole. We have been so busy that I had not come upon a chance until today. It was a selfie picture as there was not anyone around to have a proper photograph taken. Also it was cloudy, so the scenery did not look its best. Fortunately I will be staying here for an additional week, so at the first chance I will go on and get a better picture.

Selfie picture taken at the geographic South Pole.
Selfie picture taken at the geographic South Pole.

We spent part of the morning at the Science Lab in the main station, where the IceCube team meets and works when not at the IceCube Laboratory (ICL) or in the field. The Science Lab also hosts other research projects such as the South Pole Telescope and BICEP. I also walked over to the Computer Lab and talked to the information technology people, who were very friendly and will help ensure that we have reliable Internet connectivity during tomorrow's webcasts.

The IceCube team at the Science Lab in the main station.
The IceCube team at the Science Lab in the main station.

Writing up today's post with my notebook computer.
Writing up today's post with my notebook computer.

After lunch I went with Sam to check up a couple of cosmic rays sensors that had been set up in the field the previous day. The sensors have been deployed at ground level just above the surface tanks that comprise the IceTop experiment. We took our red parkas, got into our snowmobile, drove past the ICL and arrived at the area at 2:30 pm. The IceTop sensors that we worked with had been deployed about half a kilometer from the ICL and about one and a half kilometer from the main station. One of the treats of working with IceCube is that, since IceCube comprises a number of experiments and its infrastructure is spread out throughout the area, one is able to get a diverse set of field work assignments all around the South Pole area.

Departing the main station.  Destination: IceTop array.
Departing the main station. Destination: IceTop array.

The IceCube Neutrino Observatory also hosts the IceTop experiment, which has been designed to study the interaction of cosmic rays with the Earth's atmosphere. IceTop is an array deployed on the South Pole surface, consisting of 162 cylindrical tanks of ice, each equipped with two standard IceCube sensors. IceTop intends to measure the ratio of cosmic rays detected by both the surface array (IceTop) and the deep detectors (IceCube). This ratio can in turn be used to measure the distribution of atomic nuclei in cosmic rays.

Cosmic ray sensors above an IceTop tank.
Cosmic ray sensors above an IceTop tank.

Cosmic rays are highly energetic, charged particles of galactic, and for the highest energies, of extragalactic origin that arrive on Earth. Their exact origin is unknown, as the particles do not necessarily follow straight paths and are thus very hard to trace back. Hydrogen nuclei—i.e., single protons, plus an occasional neutron—account for about 88% of cosmic rays, while helium nuclei—i.e., two protons and two neutrons—account for about 10%. Heavier nuclei and free electrons account for the other 2%. It is thought that cosmic rays originate from highly energetic processes such as supernovae and supermassive black holes.

Cosmic ray sensors with the IceCube Laboratory (ICL) in the background.
Cosmic ray sensors with the IceCube Laboratory (ICL) in the background.

When we arrived at the site we ran a few tests and found out that two of the three data acquisition modules (DAQs) that had been deployed were not working correctly. Sam suggested that we take the DAQs back to the ICL in order to do some troubleshooting and see what went wrong. We actually ended up taking all three DAQs and heading back for the ICL. The actual sensors—with their wooden stands, and steered at inclinations of 30° and 45°—remained on the site.

Sam checking up the data acquisition modules (DAQs).
Sam checking up the data acquisition modules (DAQs).

Me picking up the DAQs for its return to ICL.
Me picking up the DAQs for its return to ICL.

Finalmente he podido tomarme un retrato en el polo sur geográfico. Había estado tan ocupado que hasta ahora no había tenido la oportunidad de hacerlo. Como no tenía a nadie cerca tuve que recurrir al estilo 'selfie'. El día estaba también bastaste nublado y por eso el panorama luce un tanto apagado. Mi estadía aquí se extenderá por una semana más, afortunadamente, así que a la primera oportunidad saldré a tomar una foto mejorada.

Retrato 'selfie' tiomado en el polo sur geográfico.
Retrato 'selfie' tiomado en el polo sur geográfico.

Parte de la mañana transcurrió en el laboratorio de ciencias de la estación Amundsen-Scott, lugar donde habitualmente se reúne y trabaja el equipo científico del IceCube, aunque a veces se trabaja también desde el laboratorio IceCube o incluso afuera. Este laboratorio de ciencias aloja, además, otros proyectos científicos tales como el radiotelescopio del polo sur (South Pole Telescope) y el BICEP. Acudí también al laboratorio de cómputos donde tuve una amigable conversación con los encargados de la informática. Estas personas se asegurarán que tengamos buena conexión y velocidad para los webcasts que realizaremos mañana.

El equipo científico del IceCube en el laboratorio de ciencias.
El equipo científico del IceCube en el laboratorio de ciencias.

Con mi computadora portable realizando este post.
Con mi computadora portable realizando este post.

Después del almuerzo, salí con Sam para verificar unos sensores de rayos cósmicos que desde el día anterior se habían dejado instalados a la intemperie. Estos sensores, que están colocados justamente en la superficie, descansan sobre los tanques cilíndricos que conforman el experimento IceTop. Agarramos los abrigos, nos montamos en el motonieve, pasamos de largo el laboratorio IceCube y llegamos al lugar, a eso de las 2:30 pm. Este sitio quedaba como a medio kilómetro del laboratorio IceCube, y como a un kilómetro y medio de la estación en propiedad. Dado que la infraestructura del IceCube comprende varios instrumentos, y que éstos están dispersos por toda el área, se presentan continuamente oportunidades para salir y trabajar afuera. Precisamente esa es una de las cosas interesantes de trabajar en IceCube.

Saliendo de la estación con rumbo al IceTop.
Saliendo de la estación con rumbo al IceTop.

El telescopio de neutrinos IceCube incluye también el experimento IceTop, diseñado para estudiar las interacciones de los rayos cósmicos con la atmósfera de nuestro planeta. IceTop consiste de 162 cilindros de hielo, cada uno equipado con dos sensores iguales a los utilizados por IceCube, y desplegados sobre la superficie del polo sur. El propósito de IceTop es determinar la razón de rayos cósmicos captados en la superficie (por IceTop) y a profundidad (por IceCube). Dicha razón puede, a su vez, utilizarse para determinar la distribución de núcleos atómicos dentro los rayos cósmicos.

Sensores de rayos cósmicos desplegados sobre un cilindro de IceTop.
Sensores de rayos cósmicos desplegados sobre un cilindro de IceTop.

Los rayos cósmicos son partículas cargadas, con gran contenido energético, que llegan a la Tierra desde diversos lugares de la galaxia, y en el caso de los más energéticos de afuera de la galaxia. Debido a que estas partículas no siempre llevan una trayectoria rectilínea, y por ende no es posible rastrearlas, su origen preciso se desconoce. Un 88% de los rayos cósmicos consisten de núcleos de hidrógeno (protones solitarios, en la mayoría de los casos) y otro 10% consiste de núcleos de helio (dos protones, mas dos neutrones). El otro 10% corresponde a núcleos más pesados y a electrones sueltos. Se cree que los rayos cósmicos se originan mediante procesos energéticos en el espacio profundo tales como supernovas y agujeros negros supermasivos.

Sensores de rayos cósmicos con el laboratorio IceCube (ICL) en el fondo.
Sensores de rayos cósmicos con el laboratorio IceCube (ICL) en el fondo.

Cuando llegamos al lugar realizamos pruebas en los sensores, encontrando problemas electrónicos en dos de los módulos para adquisición de datos (DAQ) que habían sido desplegados. A sugerencia de Sam recogimos los DAQ y los llevamos al laboratorio IceCube, donde más adelante él trataría de identificar la razón para el fallo. A fin de cuentas terminamos llevándonos los tres DAQ. Los sensores los dejamos en el lugar, tal como estaban, montados en sus bases de madera con inclinaciones de 30° and 45°.

Sam mientras verificaba los módulos para adquisición de datos (DAQ).
Sam mientras verificaba los módulos para adquisición de datos (DAQ).

Aquí aparezco mientras recogía losDAQ para devolución al ICL.
Aquí aparezco mientras recogía los módulos electrónicos para devolución al ICL.

Date
Weather Summary
Cold and cloudy.
Temperature
–27 °C (–16 °F)
Wind Speed
24 km/hr (15 miles per hour)
Wind Chill
–40 °C (–40 °F)
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Comments

Peggy McNeal

Armando, This is all fascinating. I sense your delight in everything that you write and look forward to the webcast. Stay warm!

Ruben Miranda (not verified)

Great job Armando. My appreciation to the team as well. You sense a lot of sacrifice and dedication out there. All the best!

Charu Srinivasan (not verified)

We are a small group of enthusiasts from Hyderabad, India who had the pleasure of participating in the 13th January webcast - thank you for a great discussion.

Lymari Hernandez (not verified)

Hola Armando. ..pude verte un ratito en la video conferencia. .ya que tenía grupo pero los estudiantes estaban super emocionados. ..y te veías muy bien. ..orgulloso de tu labor. ..espero poder hablar el jueves en la video conferencia. ..la emoción que se experimenta es inexplicable porque te das cuenta que a pesar de la gran distancia. ..estás ahí. ..no hay límites con la tecnología. ..y no te vayas a quedar porque ya veo que te gusta mucho y la estas pasando fenomenal y pareciera que no quieres regresar a tu isla que te espera con mucho orgullo. ..cuídate mucho...hasta el jueves. ...

Gretchen (not verified)

Armando, it is amazing how technology builds bridges and shortens distances. Today, as a big family with representation from just around the world, we were able to attest your passion and enthusiasm for science, allowing your students and we travel to faraway places through your eyes. Thanks!! See you on Thursday!

Armando Caussade

Good to have you here, Peggy! It has been an amazing experience so far and my goal, in addition to communicating the facts, also includes sharing the excitement of polar exploration. Thank you for your support!

Armando Caussade

I absolutely appreciate it, Rubén! Your support has been pivotal, and the same goes for Greg, Víctor and all the good people at the Puerto Rico Astronomy Society (PRAS). There is a news item about my arrival at the South Pole that was sent by PRAS and just came out. You will find it in NotiCel and a few other digital news outlets. Will see you at Greg's birthday dinner in February!

Armando Caussade

Hello Charu! Thanks to you for your interest and your support of IceCube. I absolutely enjoyed having people all over the world, and particularly from India, participate in the webcast. You may wish to follow these posts in the next few days as the adventure is not yet over. Thanks again!

Armando Caussade

No te preocupes, que regresaré a la isla a finales de enero. Ese es mi hogar y allí volveré. No te lo niego, se pasa muy bien por acá, se aprende mucho y se trabaja con cosas nuevas. Gracias por tu participación y aprecio que me comuniques el entusiasmo que sienten los estudiantes. Ya tendré la oprtunidad de compatir con todos ellos --y también ustedes, los maestros-- todo lo que he hecho aquí en la Antártida. Como siempre, gracias por tu apoyo incondicional a este proyecto. ¡Hasta pronto!

Armando Caussade

You were my number one supporter from the beginning and I am grateful for that. Yes, as I said in a previous comment, my goal is not only to convey the facts about science, but also to share the passion and excitement for science. And indeed, you also brought energy and excitement to the webcast, and it would not have been the same without you. Tell the kids that I will soon be back to share my experience with them. See you on Thursday!

Juan C. Santia… (not verified)

Juan C. Santia… (not verified)

Juan C. Santia… (not verified)

Juan C. Santia… (not verified)

William (Willi… (not verified)

Armando, its certainly a wonderful moment in your life, as well as for us your friends. Although a little bit "chilling", but exciting at the same time and there is no doubt for me, that you are having the "time of your life" !! Please receive "Warm Saludos" from the caribbean. Looking forward to see you later, Pal.

Armando Caussade

Yes, indeed, this is the time of my life! You have been consistently supportive since the early stages of my involvement with PolarTREC and this is something I value greatly. I appreciate your 'warm greetings' from the Caribbean, and yes, absolutely, let's plan to meet after my return. Thanks, and take care!

Amarilis Diaz Torres (not verified)

Los estudiantes de la Escuela ermedia IntColeen Vazquez Urrtia de Naranjito, PR, y sus maestros y bibliotecaria estamos muy orgullosos de su trabajo y le seguimos los pasos. Dios lo bendiga.

Ruben Miranda (not verified)

Hi Armando. I just keep getting amazed at what all of you are doing out there. I read yesterday's Journal (2014-Jan-14) on the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, along with it's diagram and pics. The Lab, the Array and the DeepCore with it's strings (sets) of sensors, etc. And at 2,820 meters in depth, just about reaching the bedrock, it's amazing how far the team has gone! Again, great job. My warmest regards to all that are with you and the whole installation as well. In our Puerto Rico Astronomical Society board meeting yesterday, I read your note with your appreciation to Greg and Victor (and the rest of the Board members). They were glad to hear from you, and eager to have you back. Victor and Greg also commented on your wonderful work. BTW, I sent you some questions in LINKEDIN. Check it out when you can. Be safe, and all the best!

Armando Caussade

Agredezco sus buenos deseos, bendiciones e interés en este proyecto. Espero pronto regresar a Puerto Rico para compartir mi experiencia en el polo sur con estudiantes, maestros y la comunidad en general. ¡Hasta la próxima!

Armando Caussade

As you say, it is amazing, and the things that I have seen, experienced and learned are invaluable. After my return I will be sharing all of that with you at the Puerto Rico Astronomy Society and with the community. I appreciate you keeping me updated, and it is also good to know that the people there are following my work here. At this moment my access to LinkedIn is basically nil, as Internet connectivity is extremely limited here. But will check it out later. Thanks again, Rubén, and I will see you soon after my arrival on the island.