First accelerator and NuMI upgrade magnet installed

Bradly Verdant, Jack Moore, Bill Markel and Jeff Duncan, the crew who installed the first magnet. Not pictured are Kyle Kendziora and Jerry Nelson. Photo: Marty Murphy

Although this month’s shutdown of the Accelerator Complex lasted only five days, it was enough time for Fermilab to get one step closer to turning on the NOvA experiment.

On Wednesday, March 9, Accelerator and NuMI Upgrade Coordinator Cons Gattuso led the safe and successful installation of the first dipole magnet in the 8 GeV tunnel for the new Booster to Recycler injection line, a necessary step to upgrade existing facilities for the NOvA running era.

Fermilab’s Accelerator Complex consists of a series of beamlines and accelerators that are used to deliver proton and antiprotons to various experiments. When the Tevatron shuts down and the collider program ends this year, the Recycler Ring, which is currently used to store antiprotons, will be recommissioned to serve as the pre-injector for the Main Injector Ring. This modification will allow roughly a factor of two increase in beam power while increasing the beam intensity in the Recycler and Main Injector. This change will bring bring the total beam power delivered to NOvA to 700 kilowatts. Currently, the Fermilab Accelerator Complex is capable of delivering 400 kilowatts of power to the NuMI beam.

NOvA will search for evidence of neutrinos changing from one type to another by comparing the composition of the NuMI beam as it leaves Fermilab and then again once it arrives in an underground laboratory in Minnesota.

The newly installed magnet is the fourth in a new string of magnets. This string will eventually make up an new injection line that will connect the existing 8 GeV beamline to the Recycler Ring.

The early installation of the magnet gave the group a chance to test their installation procedures and the stands that hold the magnets, which are different from any stand designs used before at Fermilab. The crew will meet next week to discuss what worked and what didn’t.

“We’ve tested this on the surface, but this short shutdown gave us a chance to test and measure everything in true tunnel conditions,” Gattuso said. “Doing the installation now allows us to make modifications to whatever didn’t work so that we can work on that ahead of time.”

NOvA is still in the fabrication and design stages. The bulk of the upgrades and installations necessary for the experiment to begin operating will take place during an expected year-long shutdown in 2012.

— Rhianna Wisniewski