2017-2018 Science Planning Summaries
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2017-2018 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder (SuperTIGER)

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Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Vladimir Papitashvili

ASC POC/Implementer:
Samina Ouda / Scott Battaion / Chad Naughton

Principal Investigator

Dr. Walter R Binns

Washington University
Physics Department
St. Louis, Missouri

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: Williams Field


SuperTIGER builds on the heritage of the smaller Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder (TIGER) flown from Williams Field in 2001 and 2003. This next-generation version is a large-area instrument that measures the elemental abundances of cosmic rays from Zinc to Molybdenum. The instrument can detect an unprecedented combination of individual elements at an extraordinary resolution and statistical precision. The data collected will permit a sensitive test of the hypothesis that microquasars or other phenomena could superpose spectral features on the otherwise smooth energy spectra previously measured with less statistical accuracy.

Field Season Overview

Integration &Test & Flight--Super TIGER-II will be launched on a high-altitude balloon from Williams Field as a part of the CSBF LDB ballooning operations. We expect that our science team which will consist of a maximum of 9 people on the ice simultaneously will arrive at McMurdo on November 9. We would anticipate that our experiment will be launched in early December. Soon after launch, most of our team will leave for their home institutions. We estimate that would be around December 15, but that depends on when the balloon can be launched.There will be several people remaining at McMurdo to monitor data from our instrument and to participate in instrument recovery after the balloon descends. Our goal is to fly our experiment for as long as possible.

Instrument Recovery--We hope to recover the instrument the same season that we fly. Instrument recovery may require that several members of the science team camp at the recovery site for approximately 1 week to disassemble the instrument so that it can be loaded onto the recovery aircraft and flown back to McMurdo. We will obviously need air support for the recovery operations. Although we can strip the instrument down for recovery by multiple flights of a Twin Otter ( 4 expected), it is preferred to use the Basler since we can recover the complete instrument in one flight and we do not have to destroy any of the detectors during recovery, which we would have to do if a Twin Otter is used. As noted, about 4 Twin Otter flights would be required to return the instrument. If it is not possible to recover the full instrument this season, it is critical that the data disks be recovered this season since not all of the data will come down by telemetry. Two of our team members (Dana Braun & Sean Fitzsimmons) will redeploy to participate in instrument recovery. In addition, one or two of our science team who are planning to be in McMurdo through February 1 will participate in the recovery. The limited field support requirements listed in this SIP are predicated on a "commuter" recovery traveling from McM each day. This would require approximately 7 "commuter" trips with a 4-person science crew. If a camp is required, field support requirements will be different and are covered by our 2014 SIP and support agreement. We will need snow school for 4 members of the SuperTIGER team. Some have completed Snow School in the past but too long ago for a simple refresher.

SuperTIGER is made up of two "stacks" of detectors, each about 5 feet x 10 feet, supported on a space-frame “gondola” of about 11 feet x 13 feet. There are 7 detector units of three types in each stack, supported by aluminum honeycomb pallets. In addition, there are CSBF components attached to the gondola, including the Science Instrumentation Package (SIP). The detector stacks and gondola will be completely disassembled for recovery and the instrument and payload components will be removed. All components are light enough to be handled by hand with the proposed 4 person science team. The Total weight of SuperTIGER and CSBF material that we expect to recover is 5000 lbs (2267) kg. The instrument and gondola are designed for recovery by either Basler or Twin Otter, but the Basler is strongly preferred because it would minimize detector disassembly or destruction on site. The Twin Otter would require 10 of the large 5 foot x 10 foot detectors (scintillators and Cherenkov detectors) to be separated into two sections each. Four other detectors (tracking hodoscopes) and the honeycomb pallets that support each detector stack would have to be cut in half and destroyed. These operations are not required for the Basler. Thus, we strongly request that the highest priority be given to making the Basler available for retrograde transport of the instrument components.

In the event that the payload is terminated far from McMurdo, we would anticipate setting up a camp at the payload. Roughly 1 week will be required to disassemble the instrument and prepare it for recovery by the Basler or Twin Otter. If a Basler is used, it should take only 1 flight to make a full recovery of the instrument as was done in the SuperTIGER-1 recovery in 2015. We will supply all tools needed to disassemble the instrument. All other required equipment need to be obtained from USAP. We will also need a snowmobile to move material on site. We will coordinate our activities with ASC personnel.

Two of our planned participants have had snow school training, and only refresher courses will be required. However, the other one or two science team members that we send will require snow school training.

Deploying Team Members

  • Richard Bose
  • Dana Braun
  • Sean Fitzsimmons
  • Jason Link
  • Brian Rauch
  • Kenichi Sakai
  • Makoto Sasaki
  • Garry Simburger
  • Nathan Walsh