Virtual Tour - CMBR Experiments


All the instruments shown here study the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, which is the leftover glow from the Big Bang. Specifically they are looking for anisotropies, or "uneven-ness", in this glow. These anisotropies are signatures of the formation of the earliest structures in the Universe. For more information about the cosmic microwave background radiation, please visit the MAP site at Goddard Space Flight Center.

For more technical information about these experiments, please visit our page on the CMBR instruments.

When this tour was originally written in 1995, Python (a 0.75-meter telescope) was actually at the Pole. Viper, a 2-meter telescope, was not yet at the Pole. (Python was used from 1992-1997, and Viper from 1997 to date.) In 1995, Python was on the ground (well, OK, technically on the ice, not ground). Now, Viper is on a tower of its own attached to the MAPO building, and you can see it in the banner image on our main home page. We have pictures here from both the Viper and Python eras.

A new telescope called DASI was installed in early December 1999. Pictures from its arrival at McMurdo can be found on the McMurdo page. Pictures from its arrival and installation on the tower formerly known as the SPIREX tower are below.

DASI Pictures

Following photos courtesy CARA/the DASI team:
World, meet DASI; DASI, meet the World.
DASI's base (technically 'azimuth ring') being put on the tower
DASI landing at the Pole and being taken to the Dark Sector.

Partially assembled, inside.
Getting up to the tower...

... and getting onto the tower!

DASI's a big girl - approximately 20000 pounds, not including counterweights and internal elements. Total combined weight is over 35000 pounds.

Here are goodies hidden in DASI by the Chicago team to cheer up workers on the ice.

Dave Pernic and Gene Davidson stretching the insulation fabric to fit it on DASI.

Clem Pryke looking up through the holes where the detectors will fit.

Clem Pryke, again.

DASI's receivers in the MAPO lab, prior to installation.

A view of the detectors installed on the instrument, installed on the tower.

The telescope sees first light! (modern-day astronomers rely on computers to operate telescopes, so this is what data collection often looks like.)

Sundogs around DASI.

Sunset behind DASI.

The DASI team: Nils Halverson, Rodney Marks, Clem Pryke, John Carlstrom, Ethan Schartman, Joe Rotman, Gene Davidson, Dave Pernic.

And again, a little colder this time.

A view of DASI with its sun shield partially in place.

For older pictures of DASI, see the page documenting when it stopped in Chicago.

Viper Pictures

Viper Installation. Here the crane is preparing to lift and then lifting the Viper telescope into position. Most of the equipment and buildings on the ground are part of the AMANDA experiment. Photo: CARA/D.A. Harper

Here the crane is setting Viper into place on its tower. For scale, note the man leaning over the shield. Photo: CARA/D.A. Harper

Two views of Viper in its new home. As with Python below, the cone-shaped object is a shield to keep stray infrared radiation sources, sunlight, and reflection of light off the snow from contaminating the data. The "business end" of the telescope is within the cone.

Views from inside Viper. Here you can see the actual telescope.

The Viper control room.

The conduit for power from MAPO to Viper.

A view of the primary mirror. Photo: CARA/Bill Holzapfel

A view of the refrigerator door that keeps the cold out of the control room for the Viper telescope. Photo: CARA/Bill Holzapfel

Another view of Viper, from late 1998. Photo: CARA/Bill Holzapfel


Python Pictures

Even as cold as it gets at night here, the telescope still needs coolant to keep its detectors cold enough to work. The winterover for Python carries coolant up to it in this view. You can see the Moon in the sky.

Python in silhouette against the setting Sun.

Python This is a view of the Python platform and shielding for the telescope -- the cone-shaped object is a shield to keep stray infrared radiation sources, sunlight, and reflection of light off the snow from contaminating the data. (Remember that the highest the Sun gets at the Pole is 23.5 degrees above the horizon, so this shield will block the Sun.) The person in front of it is Mike Masterman, the winterover for the 1995 season. The telescope is entirely inside the shield, so you can't see any of it in this view.

Masterman Here Mike Masterman is working on the instrument itself, inside the cone you can see above.

Ruhl John Ruhl is working on the heart of the instrument... ..and here is an enlargement of it.

shield This is what the cone-shaped shield looks like from inside.

shield The shield has a "door" in it that allows the scientists to see planets (the planets are good calibration sources). There's another smaller, people-sized door for scientists going in to maintain the instrument.

Dragovan Mark Dragovan, one of the Principal Investigators for this project, poses near the chopper for this instrument. A "chopper" allows the telescope to quickly compare data from on-source and off-source without moving the whole telescope, just one mirror.

Peterson Like the other telescopes at the South Pole, the CMBR telescopes are controlled from inside, where it's warm. Here, Jeff Peterson, the other Principal Investigator for this project, sits at the controls.

DP/MM Here Dave Pernic (l) and Mike Masterman (r) consult in the control room.

Python This view of Python shows the blue MAPO building behind it -- most of the telescopes are controlled from this building.

The construction of Python.


Go back to the map of the Dark Sector.