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What Do Researchers Hunt for in Antarctic Neutrinos?

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To unlock cosmic mysteries, physicists have turned Antarctic ice into a huge detector. They use it to locate neutrinos with extra-high energy (traces of the most powerful explosions and cataclysms in the universe).

Each year, scientists launch balloons with high-tech equipment from the McMurdo Station for this purpose. Physicists from the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI are conducting the Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA) experiment to search for ultra-high-energy (UHE) cosmic neutrinos together with the NASA Astrobiology Institute at the University of Hawaii.

This photo story was prepared with the support of the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI, a participant in the 5-100 Russian Academic Excellence Project.

© Sputnik / Alina PolyaninaThere are no radio-emission sources in the Antarctic, and this allows scientists to find traces of neutrinos penetrating the thick ice layers. For this purpose, physicists use powerful radio antennas that resemble ordinary radio telescopes in terms of their operation.

Above: Diagram showing the ANITA detector’s principle of operation
'Ice Key' to the Universe's Mysteries: Why are Researchers Hunting for Neutrinos in Antarctic? - Sputnik International
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There are no radio-emission sources in the Antarctic, and this allows scientists to find traces of neutrinos penetrating the thick ice layers. For this purpose, physicists use powerful radio antennas that resemble ordinary radio telescopes in terms of their operation.

Above: Diagram showing the ANITA detector’s principle of operation
© Photo : Alexander Novikov’s private archiveThe entire Antarctic surface acts as a natural neutrino detector that can function without a break.

Above: A view of the Erebus volcano
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The entire Antarctic surface acts as a natural neutrino detector that can function without a break.

Above: A view of the Erebus volcano
© Photo : Alexander Novikov’s private archivePhysicists study natural and cosmic phenomena using high-precision ANITA antennas.

Above: ANITA antenna assembled inside a hangar.
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Physicists study natural and cosmic phenomena using high-precision ANITA antennas.

Above: ANITA antenna assembled inside a hangar.
© Photo : Alexander Novikov’s private archiveAn ANITA antenna is a formidable array of radio transceivers about seven meters high and weighing about one metric ton. The balloon hoists the antenna to an altitude of 37 kilometers where it registers ultra-high-energy neutrinos.

Above: Assembled ANITA antenna.
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An ANITA antenna is a formidable array of radio transceivers about seven meters high and weighing about one metric ton. The balloon hoists the antenna to an altitude of 37 kilometers where it registers ultra-high-energy neutrinos.

Above: Assembled ANITA antenna.
© Photo : Alexander Novikov’s private archiveUnlike space satellites, modern balloons can be launched many times, making it possible to cut the research costs.

Above: A balloon launches the ANITA antenna.
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Unlike space satellites, modern balloons can be launched many times, making it possible to cut the research costs.

Above: A balloon launches the ANITA antenna.
© Photo : Alexander Novikov’s private archiveThe balloon makes it possible to see virtually the entire continent and to record events taking place hundreds of kilometers away from it.

Above: Launching an ANITA-IV antenna on a “summer” night in the Antarctic.
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The balloon makes it possible to see virtually the entire continent and to record events taking place hundreds of kilometers away from it.

Above: Launching an ANITA-IV antenna on a “summer” night in the Antarctic.
© Photo : Alexander Novikov’s private archiveScientists conduct the entire research cycle in the polar region boasting the severest weather conditions.

Above: View of the research camp.
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Scientists conduct the entire research cycle in the polar region boasting the severest weather conditions.

Above: View of the research camp.
© Photo : Alexander Novikov’s private archiveScientists return to the McMurdo Station, the largest community and research center in the Antarctic, after work.

Above: The McMurdo Station as seen from Observation Hill.
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Scientists return to the McMurdo Station, the largest community and research center in the Antarctic, after work.

Above: The McMurdo Station as seen from Observation Hill.
© Photo : Alexander Novikov’s private archiveThe Antarctic research program was launched 100 years ago. Next to the McMurdo Station stands the shack of Robert Scott, who co-discovered the southernmost and coldest continent on Earth. Built in 1902, it survives to this day.

Above: A lamp-oil box inside Scott’s shack.
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The Antarctic research program was launched 100 years ago. Next to the McMurdo Station stands the shack of Robert Scott, who co-discovered the southernmost and coldest continent on Earth. Built in 1902, it survives to this day.

Above: A lamp-oil box inside Scott’s shack.
© Photo : Alexander Novikov’s private archiveScientists, researchers and geologists from 12 countries are so far the only people coming to the Antarctic in order to study the continent and to unlock the mysteries of the universe.

Above: Alexander Novikov, a research associate of the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI, stands near the flags of Russia and New Zealand, which are involved in Antarctic research projects.
'Ice Key' to the Universe's Mysteries: Why are Researchers Hunting for Neutrinos in Antarctic? - Sputnik International
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Scientists, researchers and geologists from 12 countries are so far the only people coming to the Antarctic in order to study the continent and to unlock the mysteries of the universe.

Above: Alexander Novikov, a research associate of the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI, stands near the flags of Russia and New Zealand, which are involved in Antarctic research projects.
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