Credit: E. Christian
Snow TIGER trap
rays are sub-atomic particles which are accelerated to incredible
speeds and high energies somewhere out in space. Explosions on the surface
of the sun are one source of cosmic rays, but other energetic events, like
supernova explosions, can also generate cosmic rays. By detecting cosmic
rays scientists are able to probe directly the conditions of matter out in
space. Since these sub-atomic particles are electrically charged, they
tend to follow magnetic field lines; so one of the best places to trap
cosmic rays is at the earth's poles, where the magnetic field bends down
towards the earth's surface. The picture above shows the launch
preparation of a balloon experiment to detect cosmic rays above Antarctica.
The instrument is called the Trans Iron Galactic Element Recorder, or TIGER, and it was launched from
McMurdo Station in December 2001 and flown around the south pole for a
flight of nearly 32 days. By collecting cosmic ray particles above the
south pole, TIGER will help determine the source of material injected into
the cosmic ray accelerators, and to determine how the material is injected
into the accelerator.
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Page Author: Dr. Michael F.
Last modified January 28, 2002