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Inspired by SETI Chief, Jill Tarter’s 2009 TED ‘Prize Wish’ to “Empower Earthlings everywhere to become active participants in the ultimate search for cosmic company” the Energetic Ray Global Observatory or ERGO is an exciting new to project that aims to enlist students around the world to turn our whole planet into one massive cosmic-ray telescope to detect the energetic charged particles that arrive at Earth from space. Find out how it works and how your school can get involved
The idea is to set up sensitive detectors in classrooms spread all over the planet that are interlinked over the internet, creating an observatory on a global scale. Schools all over the world can sign up to receive an ERGO unit, each one represents a single pixel in the total telescope. The units, known affectionately as “the box with the flashing lights” comprise a Muon Detector consisting of a Geiger counter to detect cosmic ray particles that reach Earth’s surface.
Basically whenever a charged particle, passes through the detectors tube, a small spark occurs, generating an electrical signal that goes to the Timestamp Generator that send a data packet containing the location and precise time of each detection and uploaded it to the central database. A GPS Receiver provides high resolution in position and time and logic circuits and microprocessors manipulate the signals and data to produce each data packet and an embedded Ethernet server provides the internet connection. The signals from all the interconnected ERGO units are then combined to give a global image.
The units are designed to be simple to operate and come with pre-made classroom lessons and information guides allowing students to study cosmic-ray events in time and space, and observe daily, annual, and solar-activity- related patterns. Participating classes are also encouraged to develop their own experiments, perhaps taking the portable units deep underground, or up tall buildings, or try various shielding methods. Studies can be as simple or as complex as you wish. The possibilities are endless, your school may even be the first to detect and recognise the first signal from ET. ERGO allows students of all ages and abilities, the opportunity to get hands on experience of operating an experiment and analysing real data and sharing their findings with the rest of the world.
So whether you are a parent, student or teacher, get your school involved and join this exciting global experiment. The ERGO team have made it easy to apply for a grant application by filling in a simple online form.
Go to the ERGO website to get more information and sign up today!