Investigating the feasibility of acoustic neutrino detection with the South Pole Acoustic Test Setup

Freija Descamps


The sensitive volume needed for the detection of the predicted small cosmogenic neutrino flux, and the study of its angular distribution, is orders of magnitude larger than the instrumented volumes of the current Cherenkov neutrino telescopes. New detection methods that are sensitive to the radio or acoustic signatures of a UHE neutrino interaction would allow a more sparse instrumentation and therefore a larger sensitive volume at reasonable cost.

The feasibility and specific design of an acoustic neutrino detection array at the South Pole, depends upon the acoustic properties of the ice in the concerned frequency region from 10 kHz to 100 kHz. The South Pole Acoustic Test Setup (SPATS) was built to evaluate the attenuation length, speed of sound, background noise level and transient noise rate of the South Pole ice and was deployed in the 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 polar seasons. In addition to the permanently installed instrumentation, a retrievable transmitter, called pinger, was used at the South Pole in the 2007/2008, 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 seasons. An overview of SPATS, its performance and latest results will be presented.