A path forward for LBNE

Fermilab Director
Pier Oddone

DOE Office of Science Director Bill Brinkman has written me a letter supporting the reconfiguration of LBNE and requesting us to proceed to CD-1. The CD-1 review will take place at the end of October, followed by the formal approval of CD-1 towards the end of this calendar year. We appreciate very much the strong support of the Office of Science for the directions established by the 2008 HEPAP Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel (P5). The P5’s plan along the three frontiers, including a leadership role for the United States at the Intensity Frontier, has been well received beyond the DOE. Stabilizing the LBNE situation now with a viable and affordable option will make it possible to explain our path forward to Congress and the White House’s Office of Management and Budget and to obtain their support for FY13 and beyond.

The reconfiguration effort yielded three viable options, with a preferred option to develop a new beamline at Fermilab that will send neutrinos to Homestake and to place a 10-kiloton liquid-argon detector on the surface at Homestake. The interim report of the LBNE reconfiguration steering committee was published in June, and feedback is being solicited through July 15 from the physics community. The analysis of the operation of a detector on the surface at Homestake will take place over the next few months and requires careful study and design. Surface operation would clearly be only the first phase of a long-term program that will ultimately use a larger detector underground and Project X to achieve the full goals of LBNE.

While the preferred configuration fits the budget guideline for DOE expenses, it would postpone operation of a detector underground, potentially missing some important early physics. Underground operation remains highly desirable scientifically. It is still within reach of the first phase if enough resources from non-DOE sources can be gathered. We foresee a major effort starting now and continuing through the CD-2 review and approval process in late 2014 to gather LBNE partners and support, including from India and European countries; state agencies and supporters in Illinois and South Dakota; and institutions supported by the NSF that are working on LBNE.

For all practical purposes this CD-1 review is around the corner and will require a peak effort in the next few months from everyone involved, be it on the beam and detector designs or the continuing physics studies necessary for credible operation on the surface. We have a clear path forward.