Diana Kwon

Diana Kwon is a freelance science writer.

A mile underground in South Dakota, construction crews have worked diligently to carve out an extensive network of caverns and tunnels that one day will house a huge neutrino experiment. Their efforts have paid off: With almost 400,000 tons of rock extracted from the earth, the excavation has reached the halfway point.

Excavation of the large caverns for the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility is in full swing. Over a third of the whopping 800,000 tons that need to be extracted from a mile underground have been removed. When finished, the underground facility will cover an area about the size of eight soccer fields and provide space for the international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment.

Underneath the vast, frozen landscape of the South Pole lies IceCube, a gigantic observatory dedicated to finding ghostly subatomic particles called neutrinos. Neutrinos stream through Earth from all directions, but they are lightweight, abundant and hardly interact with their surroundings. A forthcoming upgrade to the IceCube detector will provide deeper insights into the elusive particles.