The world’s largest neutrino detector, IceCube, celebrates five years of operational success. bb7, a product development firm who supported its development and construction, commemorates this milestone.
Madison, WI – February 26, 2016
bb7, a comprehensive product development firm, recognizes a major milestone for project IceCube– five years of continued operational success. IceCube is a particle detector at the South Pole that records the interactions of a nearly massless subatomic particle, the neutrino. IceCube is the world’s largest neutrino detector; it encompasses a cubic kilometer of ice. Developing the first neutrino telescope of its kind required the help of 12 countries, 45 institutions – and bb7.
The University of Wisconsin led the global project and relied on bb7 for major development contributions. bb7 Partner, Randy Iliff, served as Chief Systems Engineer for the program. Iliff and the IceCube development team were at the helm of the detector’s reliability and performance.
Further, bb7 provided significant design and fabrication support for the enhanced hot water drill used to deploy the instrument. Not just any drill; this drill was essential for the strategic placement of thousands of photodetectors used to record the neutrinos. The drill was developed to handle 200 gallons per minute of near-boiling water to melt 80+ holes in the ice, each 1.6 miles deep. Each hole took about a day and a half to create.
bb7’s manned spaceflight alum, Steve Cantley, wrote and validated the drilling and deployment procedures to keep operations injury free. Additionally, bb7’s staffing department provided highly specialized technical talent including Systems Engineers and Electrical Engineers.
“Survival at the South Pole isn’t just about the cold – the altitude is so high, it’s just like living on a mountaintop. The hot-water drill’s ‘near-boiling’ water couldn’t be allowed much above 190°F or we would risk boiling!” said Steve Cantley, bb7’s Director of Project Management and Systems Engineering.
IceCube was built by an international collaboration of scientists and engineers; bb7’s participation spanned from 2004 through 2011. The construction of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory took seven years and was completed in December, 2010. Construction activities could only take place during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer, November through February.
February 26, 2016 marks the fifth anniversary of the detector’s transition to full operational status. On this date in 2011, the neutrino detector and its optical detection hardware was fully functioning and ready to contribute to global scientific research. The success of IceCube is not only in its continued operation but also in its ability to collect neutrino research data. Between 2010 and 2013, IceCube had detected millions of neutrinos, 28 of which originated outside of the Solar System.
Randy Iliff will attend the anniversary celebration event to mark the occasion. “It’s always a bitter-sweet moment to finish a major program like IceCube. On one hand you love the feeling of accomplishment; on the other, you know a team of great people will now go on to other things. This five year celebration is a great chance to meet old friends as well as acknowledge the results!” said Iliff.
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