Small Steps Forward for Pierre Auger Project


Display Tank at Lamar Community College



The national and global recession has slowed development of the Pierre Auger Cosmic Ray Observatory for the past several years. Twenty countries are supporting the southeastern Colorado project, headquartered in Prowers County and at Lamar Community College. CSU and the Colorado School of Mines are also important technical contributors, but a lack of funding in this country and others has the project running behind schedule.

The project is moving forward on a smaller scale, though. Len Pruett, the project liaison with the regional agriculture industry for the two several years, says some of the collector tanks have been set up, mostly on Walker property in Prowers County. Two tanks from Brazil were put on display at LCC and in Bent County several years ago, and plans for ten functioning tanks are being realized. Pruett said three tanks have been set up and outfitted with solar panels, battery and computer telemetry at the Journey Tower 10 miles south of Lamar. The initial prep work is done in Golden, at the Colorado School of Mines, he said, then they’re shipped here before they’re set out on area fields. The spacing is about a mile and a half between each tank at all points of the compass. Three more tanks are expected in mid April and the remaining four will be delivered six weeks after the middle shipment. The tanks are constructed in Brazil as South America was selected as the site for the first half of the project. Southeast Colorado got the go ahead as host of the northern hemisphere portion of the observatory.

Each tank holds 3,000 gallons of ultrapure water and is filled and sealed after the tank is in position. The operation is mostly automatic and a tank needs to be checked only about every three years. Instead of the proposed 4,000 tanks spread over three counties, the cosmic ray information will be monitored from the ten tanks. A similar project from the Colorado School of Mines is in progress south of the Journey site, near Two Buttes, a study of the atmosphere using an Atmosphere Monitoring Telescope built by CSM students. The tanks will monitor information on the origins and strength of cosmic rays, which continually bombard the planet.

By Russ Baldwin

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