Project IceCube, Neutrino Observatory

Sometimes “cool” is positively cold.

Project Scope

The Tip of the Iceberg

The University of Wisconsin needed to create the world’s largest neutrino detector and embed it one mile beneath the ice at the South Pole. To do so, the team needed to precisely instrument 900 million metric tons of ice.

Physicists Unite

With 300 physicists on the project, each with different research interests, the project needed someone who could distill the various ideas into a single set of requirements. bb7’s own Randy Iliff, served as Chief Systems Engineer for the program, ensuring that IceCube met the desires of the majority. Today, it is acclaimed for its “icebreaking” neutrino research.

Hardware the Hard Way

Once the neutrino detector hardware was placed deep in the ice – 5000 basketball-sized detectors distributed throughout a cubic kilometer – it would be impossible to recover. The IceCube team enlisted bb7 to ensure the reliability of the electronics involved.

Drill, Baby, Drill

bb7 provided significant design and fabrication support for the Enhanced Hot Water Drill used to penetrate the ice. Not just any drill: this one could handle 200 gallons per minute of near-boiling water to melt 80+ holes in the ice, each 1.6 miles deep! The drill was essential to the overall project; it enabled accurate placement of the detector hardware in its sub-glacial home.

The Coolest Staffing on Earth

The IceCube project relied on bb7’s staffing department for highly specialized technical talent. Systems Engineers, Electrical Engineers and more were recruited and placed for Materials Sciences, FEA, power modeling, optical sensor development and more. Our recruits spent months working on location in the South Pole (many well-prepared by Wisconsin winters).

Developing the first neutrino telescope of its kind required the help of 12 countries, 45 institutions – and bb7.

bb7 (then “Bit 7”) outside of the mobile tower structure used for drilling holes.
The staff in the South Pole dragging cables into the lab.

Between 2010 and 2013, IceCube had detected millions of neutrinos, 28 of which originated outside of the Solar System.

Building Digital Optical Modules in the lab

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