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IceCube Neutrino Observatory

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IceCube Startup and Construction Project  (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

NSF Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) Project

IceCube is the world’s first high-energy neutrino observatory, located deep within the ice cap under the South Pole in Antarctica. It represents a new window on the universe, providing unique data on the engines that power active galactic nuclei, the origin of high-energy cosmic rays, the nature of gamma ray bursters, the activities surrounding supermassive black holes, and other violent and energetic astrophysical processes. Approximately one cubic kilometer of ice contains instruments with photomultiplier tubes to detect the charged reaction products produced when a high-energy neutrino interacts with the ice within or near the detectors. An array of Digital Optical Modules (DOMs), each containing a photomultiplier and associated electronics, are distributed uniformly from 1.5 km to 2.5 km beneath the surface of the South Pole ice cap, a depth where the ice is highly transparent and bubble-free. IceCube is capable of recording the energy and arrival direction of high-energy neutrinos ranging in energy from 100 GeV (1011 electron Volts) to 10 PeV (1016 electron Volts).

Education & Outreach

IceCube provides a vehicle for helping to achieve national and NSF education and outreach goals. Specific projects include  the education and training of next-generation leaders in astrophysics, including undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral research associates; K-12 teacher scientific/professional development, including development of new inquiry-based learning materials and use of the South Pole environment to convey the excitement of astrophysics, and science generally, to K-12 students; increased opportunity for involvement of students in international collaborations; increased diversity in science through partnerships with minority institutions; and enhanced public understanding of science through broadcast media and museum exhibits (such as Adler Planetarium) based on IceCube science and the South Pole environment.  Education and outreach activities so far have been supported principally by partnering institutions, leveraged by IceCube construction and research activities.

IceCube construction was carried out by the IceCube Collaboration, led by the University of Wisconsin. 

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Images (1 of )

  • Photo of IceCube equipment and buildings
  • Detector going down an IceCube hole
Equipment and buildings support the IceCube drilling project at NSFs Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.
Peter West, National Science Foundation
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One of the detectors going down an IceCube during deployment at the South Pole.
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