Neutrinos are us

Joe Lykken

Last month marked the successful completion of the NOvA project. The NOvA experiment is our biggest step yet toward realizing our ambition of Fermilab leading the world in neutrino science with particle accelerators. NOvA will be the most powerful probe so far of a key question: Which is the heaviest of the three known neutrinos? The resolution of this mass hierarchy puzzle will be crucial to understanding all of the other mysteries of neutrinos.

Tomorrow’s labwide celebration reminds me that in the past few months we’ve had lots of other good news about ν‘s. At the beginning of the summer, a Physical Review Letter from the MINERνA collaboration presented the first high-statistics direct measurements of nuclear effects in neutrino scattering using different targets in the same neutrino beam. A couple of weeks later the MicroBooNE detector was successfully moved to its experimental hall and is now being commissioned for first data taking early next year.

In July the Fermilab Physics Advisory Committee recommended that the lab provide R&D resources towards LAr1-ND, a new liquid-argon neutrino detector supported by the National Science Foundation in addition to DOE. This follows the recent commitments from both CERN and Italy’s INFN to help refurbish ICARUS, the world’s largest liquid-argon detector, and transfer it to Fermilab. These developments were a big boost to the Short-Baseline Neutrino (SBN) task force, consisting of representatives from the LAr1ND, MicroBooNE and ICARUS collaborations and coordinated by Fermilab’s Peter Wilson. The SBN task force is working to realize the P5 recommendation to develop a short-baseline neutrino program, in collaboration with international partners, that synergizes with the P5 vision of LBNF, a new international long-baseline neutrino program hosted at Fermilab.

Fermilab’s neutrino future looks even brighter this week with the launch of our Neutrino Division, headed by Gina Rameika. The new division will operate the current program, including NOvA, MicroBooNE, MINERνA, MINOS+ and LArIAT, while helping to coordinate and execute the future international program of short- and long-baseline experiments. The Neutrino Division will provide support to the worldwide community to participate in all aspects of Fermilab-hosted neutrino science.

And did I mention the newly completed west remote operations center in Wilson Hall? You’ll have a chance to visit ROC West, the operations hub for our neutrino program, at tomorrow’s celebration.