LBNF/DUNE update: a really good week

Chris Mossey

Sometimes, you can work on things for a long time, and it’s hard to measure progress. But there are other times when, suddenly, everything falls into place, and things happen very quickly!

Last week was just such a week.

On Tuesday morning, an important addendum to the Neutrino Protocol between the United States and CERN was signed after many months of hard work by the DOE Office of High Energy Physics and CERN. This addendum lays out the framework and objectives for CERN’s participation in the U.S. neutrino program, including the Short-Baseline Program and LBNF. Of particular importance to LBNF, it describes CERN’s provision of the first cryostat in South Dakota, the first investment in infrastructure outside of Europe in CERN’s history. Among other items, the addendum also formalizes CERN’s critical support of the two DUNE detector prototypes for the full-size detectors that will eventually be installed underground in South Dakota.

ProtoDUNE membrane installation is to be completed this month for single-phase detector. Photo courtesy of CERN

On Wednesday morning, Fermilab Physics Advisory Committee Chair Maria Spiropulu testified before the Energy and Water Subcommittee to the House Committee on Appropriations. Maria highlighted the importance of the P5 plan, neutrino physics and LBNF/DUNE, the dark universe experiment program, and U.S. support of the LHC to the subcommittee, which plays an important role in funding the Department of Energy. She also described the contributions of high-energy physics to technical innovation and a well-trained scientific workforce.

On Friday, following House and Senate approval, the President signed the FY2017 omnibus appropriations bill, which included funding for DOE and the Office of Science. LBNF/DUNE was appropriated $50 million for FY2017, up from $26 million last year. This allows us to begin to award contracts for CD-3a construction activities at Sanford Lab for the conventional facilities that will support the DUNE experiment.

The LBNF procurement team has been working hard on multiple contracts for many months. We have multiple proposals from world-class contracting firms for the major construction work in South Dakota already in hand, and are working to award the “Construction Manager/General Contractor” contract this summer, pending DOE approval and funding allocation.

To wrap up the week, we held the first planning meeting for the groundbreaking ceremony at the LBNF/DUNE far site!

Chris Mossey is the Fermilab deputy director for the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility.