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FERMI NATIONAL ACCELERATOR LABORATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY FERMI NATIONAL ACCELERATOR LABORATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
The construction of the MINOS near detector, part of the $171 million NuMI project, was completed in August 2004. The 1,000-ton near detector sits 350 feet underground at Fermilab. The detector consists of 282 octagonal-shaped detector planes, each weighing more than a pickup truck. Scientists use the near detector to verify the intensity and purity of the muon neutrino beam leaving the Fermilab site. Neutrinos, ghost-like particles that rarely interact with matter, travel 450 miles straight through the earth from Fermilab to Soudan -- no tunnel needed. The Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search (MINOS) experiment studies the neutrino beam using two detectors. The MINOS near detector, located at Fermilab, records the composition of the neutrino beam as it leaves the Fermilab site. The MINOS far detector, located in Minnesota, half a mile underground, again analyzes the neutrino beam. This allows scientists to directly study the oscillation of muon neutrinos into electron neutrinos or tau neutrinos under laboratory conditions.
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