What Are They Doing?

Group photo of all neutrino hunters currently at the ceremonial South Pole. Photo by Rishabh Khandelwal.
Group photo of all neutrino hunters currently at the ceremonial South Pole. Photo by Rishabh Khandelwal.
IceCube is located at the South Pole and records the interactions of a nearly massless sub-atomic messenger particle called the neutrino. IceCube searches for neutrinos from the most violent astrophysical sources: events like exploding stars, gamma ray bursts, and cataclysmic phenomena involving black holes and neutron stars. The IceCube Neutrino Observatory is a powerful tool to search for dark matter, and could reveal the new physical processes associated with the enigmatic origin of the highest energy particles in nature. In addition, IceCube studies the neutrinos themselves using the 100,000 neutrinos detected per year produced by cosmic rays in the atmosphere. Their energies far exceed those from accelerator beams. IceCube encompasses a cubic kilometer of instrumented ice, and is the largest detector by volume ever built.

The fully built ARA project, also located at the South Pole, will have an effective volume 100 times bigger than IceCube. The trade off is that it is only capable of observing radio waves from extremely high energy neutrinos, a million times more energetic than the neutrinos produced by cosmic rays in the atmosphere. This neutrinos are extremely rare, which is why such a large detector is needed to increase the chance of seeing one.

Where Are They?

The IceCube Neutrino Observatory. Photo by Kate Miller.
The IceCube Neutrino Observatory. Photo by Kate Miller.
The team works at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica. The IceCube site is about one kilometer from the South Pole station, which supplies the necessary logistics of food, power, and shelter. Despite the cold outside, life inside the station is relatively luxurious with comfortable beds, cooked meals, and showers twice a week. The South Pole is reached by plane from McMurdo Station on the coast of Antarctica, accessible from the end of October through mid-February, after which time temperatures become too low for planes to operate safely. About 40 people remain at the South Pole station the rest of the year, which is known as wintering over. IceCube has two people dedicated to overseeing the operation of the telescope during this period at the South Pole.

Expedition Map

Dates
-
Location
South Pole Station, Antarctica
Project Funded Title
IceCube and The Askaryan Radio Array
Eric Muhs - Teacher
Teacher

Eric Muhs taught physics & astronomy in public schools for 32 years, most recently at Ballard High School in Seattle. He was AAPT’s “Washington State Physics Teacher of the Year” in 2013. With students, he built a robot that flew aboard NASA’s “vomit comet” zero-gravity airplane, a cosmic-ray detector that flew to the edge of space on a NASA high-altitude balloon, and an experiment that left the Earth on one of the last Space Shuttle flights. Mr. Muhs left Ballard High School in June to pursue other interests in education, including informal education opportunities, and spent the summer teaching Upward Bound, and building a solar-powered trailer that can be rented for off-grid events and sustainability education. He is thrilled to be working with the IceCube team.

Jim Madsen - Researcher
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."

Michael DuVernois - Researcher
Researcher
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Michael DuVernois is a Senior Scientist with the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center and a Research Professor with the Department of Physics at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He is an experimental physicist working on the IceCube and ARA neutrino observatories at the South Pole. His other research interests include high-energy gamma-ray astronomy, humanitarian demining, and detector development for particle and astro-particle physics. Less technically, he has bowled on all seven continents, and is found most Austral Summers at the South Pole supervising students and technicians. He has previously flown satellite experiments in orbit and through the solar system, balloon instruments to the top of the Earth’s atmosphere, and built instrumentation for mountain-top and extended ground-based observatories.

Latest Journals

Well, it was always going to be a challenge to get "PQ'd" (Physically Qualified) to go, starting as I did in late August, and trying to work in the middle between my new health care provider, and the group which oversees all the PQ polar travel stuff. Many, many. many appointments were made…
I came back east to visit family, and managed to schedule just a few school visits: West Chester Friends (West Chester, PA), Washington-Lee High School (Arlington, VA), St. Andrews School (Middletown, DE), and Harriton High School (Bryn Mawr, PA). Just a few. :) . So a day off down in Chestertown…
I set up a presentation at West Chester Friends Community School, where I attended 1st through 6th grade IN THE 1960's! They were actually very nice when I went to the Pole in 2002, and did a cover story about me in the alumni magazine, and I thought it would fun to return the favor, as long as I…
I'm flying out this morning to the East Coast. I've got lots of presentations planned over the next two weeks. This coming Thursday, I'll be presenting at West Chester Friends Community School, where I went to 1st through 6th grade (class of '70 in West Chester, Pa!). My mom is coming up from…
I presented last night about my upcoming expedition at Ada's Technical Books in Seattle. I thought of Ada's as soon as I got the nod to do this, because they draw a particular kind of techo-science clientele. I thought that IceCube & neutrinos would be appealing, and I had hoped to reach out to…
As soon as I got the nod to head south this December, I bought myself a new camera – a Canon 80D. It's really quite marvelous. Here's a slideshow of our day touring last week outside Oaxaca, Mexico. We went to a wool rug manufacturer, a giant tree, a Mixtec ceremonial site, a mineral spring, and…

IceCube and The Askaryan Radio Array 2018 Resources