A regular Baikal Neutrino Telescope expedition has begun. This time the participants face an ambitious task of installing two clusters during the season and repairing failed parts of three earlier installed clusters.  DLNP sent a considerable force to fulfill the task. Among the participants in the expedition is a DLNP Deputy Director Dmitry Vadimovich Naumov. Whenever possible, he will share his impressions, thoughts, photos, and videos with us. An exciting trip is in store! Join in!

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The First Day

A new UAZ off-roader drives through Irkutsk, picking up five participants in the expedition who have just arrived. Then it goes over the Baikal road, by the Listvyanka island, and to the ice. 

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The Baikal ice is beautiful. We are blessed with good weather this time. The spring has come early. There is no snow on the sides of the mountains.

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The ice lives its own life. Some places are as smooth as a mirror. Yet, usually not far from the bank, there are strips of ice lumps driven onto the surface, which glitter like diamonds in the sun. These strips are called ice ridges.

But sometimes there occur pieces of ice with a clear-cur rectangular shape, as shown in the photo. It is a surprising natural phenomenon that still needs to be puzzled out. The locals blame extraterrestrials, but we will try to find a simpler explanation.



Many people know that ringed seals live in Baikal. These nice seals breathe with lungs.  

But what has the ringed seal to do when Baikal is covered with ice? It cannot break the ice, but it needs to breathe.

The ringed seal follows the only possible way. It chooses a place and keeps it clear of ice by regularly breaking the arising ice crust with its nose.



We continue driving and arrive at the entrance to the neutrino telescope base. Here the old and the new exist side by side. There are new house trailers for the expedition participants. The interior of this "trailer" is like a mini-hotel with sleeping rooms and a kitchen. There is a trailer with shower cabins and a laundry room. Everything is well wrought and fit out with modern appliances.

At the boundary of the neutrino telescope base a legendary railway runs, along which an equally legendary steam engine Matanya drives. On the base there are many new cars: UAZs, trucks, truck cranes, a powerful URAL vehicle, and even an amphibious vehicle. 


The first group with the expedition leader Igor Anatol'evich Belolaptikov (respectfully called "Anatolich") came a week earlier and already did much on the ice! I gave up the idea of making up for lost sleep and "collecting my wits" and went on the ice immediately after the lunch to see how everything is arranged and try to help.




The camp on the ice extends over a large area. Near each hole in the ice, which is called a "maina", there is a hoist to move up and down strings with optical modules. 

These modules are drawn out of the depth of Baikal. They are wrapped up with wires, which may seem strange since wires prevent light from hitting the photomultiplier tube (PMT). 

The explanation is that these very modules have no PMTs inside. They are mounted on the central string and collect information from the rest of the modules. 

Something went wrong with these modules, and they will be brought to the shore and repaired.



This short video shows the neutrino camp as it looks like today.


The neutrino telescope is overgrown with a lot of transducers and devices used to calibrate and monitor the setup. Among them is a very powerful laser produced to our order in Russia. It helps synchronize watches at each optical module.

After a year of efficient operation, the laser began playing up. It was drawn up and had "his brains reflashed" without being taken off the hook. Now it promises to pull no tricks but makes no warranty.



Ice cubes with the rectangular shape mentioned above are thrown about…

Do you want to know how mainas, rectangular holes, appear in the ice? No, extraterrestrials are not to blame. These are specially trained Irkutsk residents. Watch the video.


And this is where cubes come from! No extraterrestrials again.


To be continued...