Do you remember seeing the TED talk by Jill Tarter as she accepted the 2009 TED Prize? Jill is one of my hero's and I follower her work closely. If you missed it you can watch it here.
Its an inspiring talk and should provoke thought and if possible action. As she spoke to those at the TED conference she said:
"I wish that you would empower Earthlings everywhere to become active participants in the ultimate search for cosmic company"
It provoked action by at least one person in the audience. Tom Bales of Euclid laboratories accepted Jill's challenge by starting:
Looking through the ERGO site I came to a form to fill out if your interested in participating. Of course I was - how could I not be interested in being a part of a project building the worlds largest telescope. Tom came back to me and proposed, on the bases of what I was doing with SETI Net and that I use a GPS based system to lock the clocks of my observatory, that I be a part of the ERGO team to build the next generation of pixels. That was the start. You can link to the ERGO Telescope home page here...
Other Cosmic Ray Telescopes
There are several ongoing projects with observatories around the world. Wikipedia lists several:
One that Wiki doesn't list is the H.E.S.S II system that came to First Light just recently (0:43 a.m. on 26 July 2012). H.E.S.S II is a massive machine that is built to study very high energy particles from space using the Cherenkov process.
The Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina is also built to observe these particles but has a much different physical organization (an array of water tanks). Its interesting to use Google Earth to see the location of Pierre Auger. Fly to:-34.928516, -68.994057 to see one of the tanks in the most God forsaken part of the earth possible.
As you can see cosmic ray telescopes do not conform to a pre-conceived notion of either and optical or radio telescopes. The ERGO telescope is like that as well. It consists of a number of small boxes (called Pixels), connected to power, a GPS antenna, the internet and nothing else. They can live in a closet or on a teachers desk and they require no attention or maintenance but provide a window into the cosmic unknown.
Detecting and tracking cosmic rays is a huge subject and well worth investigating. Start, as usual, with Wikipedia.
"We, all of us, are what happens when a primordial mixture of hydrogen and helium evolves for so long that it begins to ask where it came from.” (Jill Tarter)