2002-2003 Science Planning Summary

Aeronomy & Astrophysics

Dr. Vladimir Papitashvili
Program Manager


NSF/OPP 99-80474
Station: South Pole Station
RPSC POC: Paul Sullivan
Research Site(s): South Pole Station

AMANDA 2000 (Antarctic Muon And Neutrino Detector Array)
Dr. Robert M. Morse
University of Wisconsin Madison
Department of Physics
Dr. Albrecht Karle
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Department of Physics

Deploying Team Members: Steven W Barwick . Heinz Becker-Karl . Elisa Bernardini . David Besson . Thomas T Burgess . Jodi A Cooley . Douglas Cowen . Anna K Davour . Carlos P De Los Heros . Paolo Desiati . Jessica M Drees . Thomas H Feser . Olav N Franzen . Raghunath Ganugapati . Tonio Hauschildt . Philippe Herquet . Gary C Hill . Brennan J Hughey . Per Olof Hulth . Klas G Hultqvist . Stephan Hundertmark . Ilya V Kravchenko . Kyler W Kuehn . Holger Leich . James M Madsen . Jackie Meyer . Joshua E Meyers . Yulia Minaeva . Robert M Morse . Eric Muhs . Rolf Nahnhauer . Jiwoo Nam . Peter Niessen . Mathieu A Ribordy . Steffen Richter . Darryn A Schneider . Robert K Schwarz . Andrea Silvestri . Michael Solarz . Christian Spiering . Peter Steffen . Karl H Sulanke . Jennifer A Thomas . Wolfgang Wagner . Christin Wiedemann . Henrike Wissing . Kurt W Woschnagg
Research Objectives: Neutrinos are elementary particles, with no electrical charge, and very little mass. They are very penetrating, interacting rarely with other particles. Low energy neutrinos have been detected from the sun and from Supernova 1987a in the Large Magellanic Cloud -- to date the only sources of extra-terrestrial neutrinos. The primary goal of the AMANDA experiment is to detect the expected sources of high energy neutrinos from cosmic objects such as active galaxies, pulsars, neutron stars, blazars, and gamma-ray bursts. If the present understanding of the acceleration mechanisms in these objects are correct, gamma-ray bursts should be copious emitters of neutrinos.

AMANDA is the largest detector of neutrinos in the world. Over the last five seasons, the project has drilled an array of holes in the ice 1 to 2 kilometers deep and installed over 600 photomultiplier tubes with "strings" of instrument suspended inside. The ice at South Pole is so clear that the tubes can detect Cherenkov radiation from several hundred meters away. Cherenkov radiation, visible as a blue glow, is emitted by collisions of high-energy neutrinos with ice or rock.

There are currently 26 strings in the ice, each hard-wired to computers in the Martin A. Pomerantz Observatory (MAPO) facility. The computers analyze the gigabytes of collected data to determine true neutrino events.

Only in recent years has it become technically possible to build such large neutrino detectors. As one of the first of this new generation, AMANDA promises to make seminal contributions to the new field of high energy neutrino astronomy.

Field Season Overview:
No drilling will take place this season. The project team will perform routine maintenance and calibration on the existing instrument strings. Each string is hard-wired to computers in the Martin A. Pomerantz Observatory (MAPO) for data collection and analysis to identify true neutrino events.

Two members of the research team will remain at South Pole Station during the 2003 austral winter to ensure smooth detector operation and data transmission to the participating institutions.