IceCube project sends UWRF students to Antarctica
April 2, 2010
In November, two UW-River Falls students, Kyle Jero and Drew Anderson, embarked on a trip to Antarctica in participation with an international research coalition group called the IceCube project.
Jero and UW-Rock County student Samantha Jakel departed for Sweden at the beginning of November to help prepare the Russian icebreaker Oden for its trip from Sweden to Uruguay, Jero said prior to their departure.
Anderson was then flown to Sweden and left on the Oden on Nov. 20. Anderson stayed aboard the Oden for three to four weeks as the ship made its way to Uruguay. Once the ship arrived in Uruguay, Jakel took Anderson’s place to travel to Argentina. The Oden then made the trip to Antarctica and arrived in February.
Students have been given the opportunity to travel on the Oden to help monitor the tank as well as help with operations on the ship. The trip was to be completed in three legs with Anderson traveling on the first from Sweden to Montivideo, Uruguay. Jakel took over there to accompany the tank to McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Finally, Jero would monitor the tank from McMurdo to Punta Arenas, Chile.
The Oden is an icebreaker ship retrofitted to carry out scientific expeditions. Due to its tendency to tilt and sway, meters onboard will monitor the ships, and thus the tank’s orientation. Other sensors will measure the barometric pressure, as all of these factors have an impact on the propagation of cosmic rays.
According to the UWRF IceCube Web site, the purpose of IceCube is to collect information regarding extremely high energy bursts of particles called neutrinos, or cosmic rays. These energy bursts can come from the sun or major galactic events such as supernova explosions or black holes.
Information gained from studying the cosmic rays is then applied to theories that help gain a better understanding of the makeup of the universe. This group is a coalition consisting of over 30 educational and research institutions, about half are which based in the U.S.
UWRF contributions to the project include: initial Ice- Cube detector performance analysis, designing and fabricating sunshades for IceTop tanks, deploying IceTop tanks at the South Pole, designing/ producing/implementing a muon trigger to characterize IceTop tanks and simulating high energy cosmic rays to study the IceTop detector performance.
The trip is funded primarily by the National Science Foundation, with private contributors from both Sweden and Germany, according to the program’s Web site.
“This experience was the most memorable I have ever had the fortune to participate in, and I know that I will remember and talk about it for the rest of my life.” Jero said. Jero’s blog from the entire journey can be found on the UWRF IceCube Web site. Included are many excerpts and pieces of writing from Jero throughout the entire period of traveling.
Jero has also been selected to present his abstract “The Oden Ice Breaker Calibration Cruise: Extending the IceTop Array for Solar Study” at the 2010 Posters on the Hill event April 12 in Washington, D.C. In addition to Jero, UWRF physics Professor Jim Madsen, Anderson and Jakel will be attending. Each participant’s poster contains pages of text, graphs and photographs that will help with the student’s oral presentation of their research to members of Congress. Students will participate in an orientation session as well as field trips to various locations throughout Washington, D.C.