December, 2007....J. Dana Hrubes...updated December 31, 2007 , 0900 GMT

SPT and LC-130 take-off 
South Pole Telescope in the Dark Sector with an LC-130 taking off in the foreground (photo-Chad Carpenter)

Back at the Pole for another year
After being away from the Pole for about two years, working at my job in Rhode Island, I am back at 90o South Latitude for another year.  This time is different because I am here as a grantee working for the University of Chicago's Kavli Institute of Cosmological Physics. I will be a
winterover for the South Pole Telescope (SPT).   SPT and control room underneath, attached to the Dark Sector LAB (DSL)   With this large millimeter/submillimeter wavelength telescope, we will be scanning 40% of the universe, looking back at the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation that was scattered shortly following the big bang, over 13 billion years ago. It is anticipated that this data will reveal the nature of galaxy cluster formation and provide clues to the mystery of dark energy/dark matter helping to answer questions regarding the physics governing the expanding universe.  Also, this year is the International Polar Year (IPY), a multinational effort to study the polar regions.

For more information on SPT, visit:              

There is also a recent Chicago Tribune article about the SPT program:,0,6168513,full.story        

The installation of SPT at the Pole was just completed in February, 2007, when it saw "first light" and initial observations were performed between March and October. This austral summer, the SPT team has been busy with improvements in the telescope receiver (sensor) cryostat, characterization of new bolometer (sensor) arrays, as well as upgrades to the various mechanical systems of the telescope. Once the final bolometer wedges are installed and the telescope is reassembled in late January, observations can begin again for 2008.

   brad assembling receiver cryostat       wire bonding       bolometer wedges        joaquin, brad assemble receiver cone          attaching receiver cryostat to secondary mirror cryostat      joaquin, helmuth connect bolometer squid outputs to data acquisition rack      cryostat pumpdown, cooldown       kathryn analyzing characterization data     joaquin, martin analyzing characterization data    dana moving telescope     nils, dana installing telescope seals     nils, dana, joaquin on roof(warm, its only -20 F)     10 meter (33 ft) diameter primary mirror       SPT and DSL

SPT is sharing the Dark Sector Laboratory (DSL) with the BICEP telescope. BICEP is smaller Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) telescope examining polarization of the CMB.     yuki at work      yuki topping off BICEP with liquid helium        DSL showing SPT and BICEP (acbar, dasi, quad no longer operational)    

We had a cargo airdrop by a C-17 in December.     C-17 drop     close-up of drop (photo by dawg)    

The new elevated station is about complete and the outer gun metal grey cladding is nearing completion. The station dedication is January 12th.   new elevated station    station side toward skiway        

Meanwhile the old dome is now about empty and the front entrance arch and familiar sign were removed. I will be a bit sad to see the flag transferred from the dome to the new station at the dedication on January
12th.    removing dome sign   empty dome    

It was also nice to be back in Christchurch, New Zealand on my way down to the Pole at the beginning of December.
   christchurch square         chess in the square     entertainment    penguin bus   christchurch botanical gardens       gardens       chc museum    

Finally, a photo of the C-17 that took me from Christchurch to McMurdo Station where I  boarded a ski-equipped LC-130 for the Pole.   C-17      inside C-17 (photo by yuki 

NEXT MONTH: January... a busy month and more about South Pole Telescope

A Real-Time Photo of South Pole Station as Seen from the ARO Building (live when satellite is up)
A Comprehensive South Pole Web Site by Bill Spindler
Winterover Web Pages (Bill Spindler's List)