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The University of Delaware is helping to build a huge "IceCube" at the South Pole, and it has nothing to do with cooling beverages. "IceCube" is a gigantic scientific instrument--a telescope for detecting illusive particles called neutrinos that can travel millions of miles through space, passing right through planets. When the novel telescope is completed in the next several years, a cubic kilometer of ice at the "bottom of the world" will provide a new eye into the heavens and some of the most distant and violent events in the cosmos.
"IceCube is already the world's largest neutrino telescope although it is less than half-finished," Gaisser said. "Its purpose is to use neutrinos as a novel probe of high-energy astrophysical processes to reveal their inner workings, which are obscured for ordinary telescopes using light and other wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum."
Working in the harsh polar environment is no easy feat. On average, it takes a specially designed, 5-million-watt hot-water drill 48 hours--two full days--and 4,800 gallons of jet fuel to melt one of the holes for deploying a string of the telescope's sophisticated sensors. And approximately 200,000 gallons of melted ice is generated in the process.