Tag Archives | South Pole

Observatory 1.5 Miles Deep Under Antarctic Ice

Photo: The National Geographic

Photo: The National Geographic

Some secrets of the universe may be found by looking underground. Under the South Pole to be exact. There, under the ice, is the world’s largest neutrino observatory used to find clues to cosmic mysteries and subatomic particles that can travel through almost any matter. Via The National Geographic:

An IceCube sensor is dropped into 1 of 86 holes drilled into the Antarctic ice in a December 2010 picture.

To reach the icy depths, scientists designed and built the Enhanced Hot Water Drill, which can penetrate more than 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) of ice in less than two days. The team then fed the IceCube detector—86 cable strings that each contain 60 neutrino sensors—into the holes.

Each cable is equipped with another four sensors at the surface, which together make up one IceCube array. The detector and arrays combine to make the IceCube Neutrino Observatory.

Situated at the geographic South Pole, the U.S.

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Dark Energy: The Biggest Mystery in the Universe

Far from light and plunged into months-long darkness, Antarctica's South Pole Telescope is one of the best places on Earth for observing the universe. Photo: Keith Vanderlinde / National Science Foundation

Far from light and plunged into months-long darkness, Antarctica's South Pole Telescope is one of the best places on Earth for observing the universe. Photo: Keith Vanderlinde / National Science Foundation

At the South Pole, astronomers try to unravel a force greater than gravity that will determine the fate of the cosmos. Richard Panek reports for Smithsonian Magazine:

Twice a day, seven days a week, from February to November for the past four years, two researchers have layered themselves with thermal underwear and outerwear, with fleece, flannel, double gloves, double socks, padded overalls and puffy red parkas, mummifying themselves until they look like twin Michelin Men. Then they step outside, trading the warmth and modern conveniences of a science station (foosball, fitness center, 24-hour cafeteria) for a minus-100-degree Fahrenheit featureless landscape, flatter than Kansas and one of the coldest places on the planet. They trudge in darkness nearly a mile, across a plateau of snow and ice, until they discern, against the backdrop of more stars than any hands-in-pocket backyard observer has ever seen, the silhouette of the giant disk of the South Pole Telescope, where they join a global effort to solve possibly the greatest riddle in the universe: what most of it is made of.

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