Neutrino Division at one: year in review and a look ahead

Regina Rameika

Regina Rameika

Regina Rameika, head of the Neutrino Division, wrote this column.

As we approach the one year anniversary of the formation of the Neutrino Division, it is exciting to look back on the developments of the past year and to appreciate how far we, as a laboratory and community, have come in shaping the future neutrino program.

The commissioning of the ROC West control room for the neutrino and future muon experiments has led to an inviting venue for our users and community visitors. It is really inspiring to watch the dozens of school students crowd into the room and look in awe at the beautiful visual displays of our experiments. The enthusiasm and willingness of the shifters to share what they are doing is sure to inspire a new generation of scientists.

During the past year we have seen the first results from the NOvA experiment, the commissioning of the MicroBooNE detector and a steady stream of new results from the MINERvA experiment. In the coming year the MINOS+ experiment heads into the home stretch with precision measurements testing the three-neutrino paradigm. The future looks bright for a steady output of results from the NuMI and Booster beam experiments.

Speaking of the Booster beam, the new Short-Baseline Neutrino program is beginning to come together. The flagship detector of the SBN program will be the ICARUS T-600, currently under refurbishment at CERN and scheduled to be delivered to Fermilab in early 2017. If you drive in on the Pine Street side of the laboratory, you will see a new excavation and construction site adjacent to the MINOS surface building. This will be the new home for the ICARUS detector. In addition to the ICARUS detector, MicroBooNE will continue to operate in the Booster Neutrino Beamline, and a new near detector, called SBND, will be constructed adjacent to the existing SciBooNE hall. It is indeed an exciting time for the short-baseline program.

Last but not least, it has been a very exciting year in the development of the long-baseline program. Following the 2014 P5 report, which endorsed the development of an international program hosted by Fermilab, an international neutrino community has come together and formed the DUNE Collaboration. DUNE will build an experiment at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in Lead, South Dakota. Fermilab will be the host laboratory, operating the facility at SURF and providing the neutrinos, which will originate here at Fermilab, using a megawatt-class beam from our accelerator complex.

When the modern-era neutrino program launched in the mid-’90s with the MiniBooNE and MINOS experiments, I think it was safe to say that we really didn’t know how far the program would go. Twenty years later, it is still going with a clear program mapped out for at least another 20 years. My how time flies!