Saturday, 8 December 2007

IceCube: Dual Use Neutrino Telescope

Being built in the Antarctic Ice plains to help map the heavens could also one day be used as a planetary scanner to help build up a picture of the earth's core;

Currently under construction, Icecube is designed to detect subatomic particles called neutrinos, which are so evasive that they can slip quite easily through the body of the planet. A few neutrinos are not so lucky, however, and deep under the South Pole IceCube is designed to spot them. The machine consists of thousands of detectors and will eventually fill a cubic kilometre of ice. The detectors look downwards, watching for the distinctive flash of blue light that means a neutrino has come through most of the planet only to get snagged in the Antarctic ice. The main aim is to look for neutrinos from exotic objects in deep space, such as the giant black holes in galactic cores, using the bulk of the Earth as a shield to screen out unwanted noise from other cosmic particles.

Apparently building the IceCube is less an act of construction than a kind of archaeology in reverse; the process will consist of entombing glass-globed sensors the size of basketballs on 1-mile-long strings, 70 sensors per string, in 70 deep holes beneath the polar surface. This will then allow scientists to develop, a "library of the universe"

Sources: One Two Three
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