PLANET EARTH

IceCube: The Coldest Science on Earth

After five cold years, researchers are set to finish a giant underground telescope buried beneath the South Pole. Accordingly called the IceCube Observatory, completion is expected late Friday, once the last of more than 5,000 optical sensors is buried as much as two miles below the permanent ice cap covering Antarctica. 

IceCube Lab at Sunset

A silhouette of the IceCube neutrino detector facility at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

NSF

Scott Smith at South Pole

Scott Smith, a member of the IceCube research team at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, is covered with frost on a typical spring day at Pole.

Scott Smith / National Science Foundation

Jessica Hodges with IceCube

Jessica Hodges, a physics graduate student with IceCube, University of Wisconsin-Madison, is pictured with a digital Optical Module (DOM) -- the sensors that make up the giant telescope.

Glenn Grant/National Science Foundation

The IceCube Concept

Artist's rendering of a Cerenkov light cone passing through the IceCube telescope. The Cerenkov light is created when a neutrino collides with a water molecule deep in the ice of Antarctica, producing a type of particle called a muon, which radiates the blue light.

NSF

special drill for IceCube

Burying the sensors in the ice is its own challenge; as you might expect, the team employs hot water drills shown here to penetrate the South Pole's ice. 

NSF

DOM going down hole

A digital sensor, one of the thousands that make up the IceCube Neutrino Detector, is carefully lowered to its resting place beneath Antarctica's ice.

NSF

Results of a Damaged Hose

A damaged hose spews during drilling for the IceCube project. 

NSF

DOM up close

A close up view of one of the sensors that make up the IceCube Neutrino Detector.

Wikipedia

Ice Cube from the air

A plane circles over the IceCube installation -- conveniently located at the bottom of the world. 

NSF

How do you reach remote antarctica

An Air Force Hercules sits on the "tarmac" outside the Amundsen base.

NSF

Digging a hole

How do you manage snow in Antarctica? it's easy ... with construction equipment.

NSF

a single sensor

An artist's illustration of a row of sensors. About eighty holes have been drilled in total, each one approximately 2.4 km deep. Neutrino detection instruments were lowered into each hole. 

NSF

The road to Ice Cube Lab

The cold and windy road on the way to the IceCube lab. 

NSF

IceCube: The Coldest Science on Earth

After five cold years, researchers are set to finish a giant underground telescope buried beneath the South Pole. Accordingly called the IceCube Observatory, completion is expected late Friday, once the last of more than 5,000 optical sensors is buried as much as two miles below the permanent ice cap covering Antarctica. 

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