Celebrating NOvA

Fermilab Director
Nigel Lockyer

Last week we joined the NOvA collaboration in celebrating the culmination of nearly a decade of hard work. Five years after shovels were first put into the ground and two years after construction began in earnest on the far detector in Minnesota, both the near and far detectors of NOvA are complete. And with CD-4 approval from the Department of Energy in place, the experiment has truly begun.

Many thanks go to everyone who was involved along the way. As detailed by Project Manager John Cooper and Associate Project Manager Paul Derwent from Fermilab, as well as NOvA co-spokesperson Mark Messier of Indiana University, during last Wednesday’s all-hands presentations, a project the size of NOvA requires hundreds of people working in concert to successfully pull it off.

The NOvA collaboration includes 208 scientists from 38 institutions in seven countries, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here are some statistics that will give you an idea of the scope of this project and how many people were involved:

  • More than 365,000 plastic modules, assembled by hundreds of undergraduate students at the University of Minnesota
  • 2.7 million gallons of liquid scintillator to be blended and precisely poured into the detectors
  • More than 1,200 truckloads of PVC plastic tubes shipped between Texas, Wisconsin and Minnesota
  • 105 railcars of mineral oil that led to 414 tanker loads of scintillator
  • More than 400 Fermilab employees who worked on the NOvA accelerator and NuMI upgrades, converting the Recycler from an antiproton accumulator to a proton accumulator
  • Another 250 Fermilab employees who worked on project management and the NOvA detectors, including the near detector built at Fermilab and installed in a new underground cavern
  • The full-time equivalent of 880 years of work from people at Fermilab, Argonne, the University of Minnesota and outside contractors working on NOvA detectors

The beautiful neutrino event pictures, which can be seen online, demonstrate the exquisite high resolution of the absolutely huge 14,000-ton far detector. The team should be proud of the performance of the detector they have built.

The worldwide particle physics community is eagerly awaiting the first science results. Let’s hope NOvA will dramatically change our view of the universe.