Week 6 at the Pole

A huge reflector paneal at the South Pole, snowswept and with gray skies behind, and a winterover poking thru a small window about two-thirds the way up from the ground.
Kevin Zagorski, SPT/NSF

Last week at the Pole, IceCube winterover Connor got up close and personal with…something large. That something turns out to be a calibration target for the South Pole Telescope. It’s not located near the telescope but rather about 3 kilometers away, the minimum distance required for the telescope to focus on the source, which gets positioned in the window Connor is peeking out through. If you prefer to use your imagination for what’s behind the panel, don’t look here. A previous IceCube winterover took a nice photograph of this reflector panel a few years back, but it looked quite different from this image above.

It’s been getting colder at the South Pole as the official start of the winter season approaches. Last week, temperatures reached -70 F with windchill, making the walk out to the IceCube Lab particularly “brisk” for the winterovers. But they got to travel around in a PistenBully last week (the PB100, apparently the fastest of the bunch) while they finished up IceTop measurements before it gets too cold and dark to do so.

Two winterovers in red parkas working with flags out on the ice.
Kevin Zagorski, SPT/NSF
Two propeller planes parked on the ice at the South Pole.
Connor Duffy, IceCube/NSF