TIGER in Antarctica
Credit: E. Christian

Snow TIGER trap

Cosmic 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. Corcoran
Last modified January 28, 2002