A new "far detector" facility in Ash River, Minn. is set to be partially running this spring. Researchers will be using the five-story building, which sits mostly underground, to catch tiny particles called neutrinos.
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The far detector will be made up of 28 PVC blocks, each 51 feet high and wide, and seven feet deep. When it's finished, the device will be about 200 feet long. Filled with a transparent liquid and outfitted with light-sensitive sensors, the NOvA far detector will analyze a beam of neutrinos that begins its journey at Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois, and travels through about 500 miles of earth to the detector.
The NOvA experiment is looking to answer fundamental questions about neutrinos and the role they play in the universe. There are three types of neutrinos. The experiment will observe muon neutrinos oscillating into electron neutrinos, and aims to discover which types of neutrinos possess more mass than other types. It will pave the way to discovering why there is only matter in the universe, instead of equal amounts of matter and antimatter.
The facility will be fully complete in 2014.
University of Minnesota physics professor Ken Heller will join The Daily Circuit Friday, Jan. 10 to talk about what the facility hopes to accomplish.
View the live webcam.