The IceCube Neutrino Observatory, operated by the University of Wisconsin - Madison with a grant from the National Science Foundation, is a research station and laboratory located at the South Pole. The $271 million project, currently under construction, uses sophisticated detectors in the massive quantities of pure water in the form of ice to detect neutrinos, which it is hoped will reveal more information about the building blocks and origins of the Universe. For more information, please visit the IceCube web site.
The Xserve RAID arrays were installed in support of the science data generated by the detector arrays, as well as support for information technology needs at the South Pole facility. The Xserve RAIDs originated in Madison, WI, and then made their way to Christchurch, New Zealand, and then via a US Air Force C-17 transport to McMurdo Station, a US facility on the Antarctic coast. From there, they made their way to the IceCube facility at the South Pole aboard a special ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules aircraft.
One Xserve RAID one is scratch space for data analysis. The IceCube array produces a lot of data, and the researchers try to only transfer the most interesting fraction over the satellite internet connection. This storage will lets researchers sift through some of that data. The less interesting majority is written to tape to ship to Madison, WI, once a year.
The second Xserve RAID provides storage for a backup server, storing snapshots of home directories, web, mysql, postgres, ldap, mail, and a few other critical pieces of data. It is currently configured very conservatively for just over a week of history, but there is expected to be plenty of room for several weeks worth.
View outside the workroom of the new 10m radio telescope
A view of the server room from the workroom, with the Xserve RAIDs visible
Closer view of the Xserve RAIDs