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MINOS cavern at Fermilab

MINOS cavern at Fermilab


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The groundbreaking for the cavern of the MINOS far detector was on July 20, 1999. The excavation of the cavern took about two years, followed by the two-year construction of the detector. The University of Minnesota Foundation commissioned a mural by Joe Giannett for the MINOS cavern, painted onto the rock wall, 59 feet wide by 25 feet high. The mural contains images of scientists such as Enrico Fermi and Wolfgang Pauli, Wilson Hall at Fermilab, and George Shultz, a key figure in the history of Minnesota mining. 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. Fermilab completed the construction and testing of the Neutrino at the Main Injector (NuMI) beam line in early 2005. Protons from Fermilab's Main Injector accelerator travel 1,000 feet down the beam line, smash into a graphite target and create muon neutrinos. The neutrinos traverse the MINOS near detector, located at the far end of the NuMI complex, and travel straight through the earth to a former iron mine in Soudan, Minnesota, where they cross the MINOS far detector. Some of the neutrinos arrive as electron neutrinos or tau neutrinos.

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