After ten years of preparation, the MINOS (Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search) experiment is about to start. By the end of this month, the Main Injector particle accelerator at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Illinois) will begin producing a beam of neutrinos intended to shed light on scientists on the secrets of these particles without electric charge and mass at minus a million times lighter than the lightest charged particle.
The generated beam, called NuMI, will be directed to a 6000-ton detector located nearly 700 kilometers away, deep in the former Sudan Iron Mine, northeastern Minnesota. Each year, more than one trillion neutrinos will pass through the Sudan Underground Laboratory after a journey of barely two and a half milliseconds. Most will continue their run unchanged but some 1500 per year will collide with
atoms inside the detector, allowing researchers to better study their characteristics, their suggested connection to the mysterious dark matter, and how these particles - which exist in three flavor states called electronic, muonic and tau - pass from one variety to another.
Scheduled for a period of five years, the MINOS experiment involves 32 institutions located in Brazil, France, Greece, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The United States Department of Energy (DOE), on which Fermilab depends, funded much of the $ 181 million project.
USAT 11 / 02 / 05 (Minnesota neutrino project to get under way this month)