Blogs in January 2014

Antarctica 2013--2014 Part 8: Ice Tunneling

Photo of Ice Tunnels

A few weeks ago I went on a tour of the South Pole ice tunnels. These run underneath the station, connecting it to the power plant, food storage, water treatment plant, and water supply. Probably the most interesting part was understanding how the water supply works. Fresh water comes from a Rodrigues well ("rodwell"), a hole in the ice we slowly expand by melting and pumping water out of it. To do so, we have to pump in hot water. Part of the heat is excess from the power plant, but the water needs to be heated again to 120 F immediately before being pumped into the rodwell.

Blog Categories: 

Antarctica 2013--2014 Part 7: Science with Keck Array at the South Pole

Photo of Keck Array

The main science goal of our experiment is to measure faint microwave signals to help us better understand the Big Bang. Because the signals are so faint (equivalent to temperature fluctuations of less than 0.000001 degrees), we need incredibly sensitive detectors to find them. Furthermore, there are lots of stronger signals (e.g. from our own Galaxy) we have to reject in order to see the tiny ones from the beginning of the Universe. Therefore, most of our work here comes in two parts: upgrading our telescopes and characterizing how they respond to different types of signals.

Blog Categories: