US sets up dark matter detector inside an underground former gold mine
Researchers at Sanford underground facility have moved a step closer in conducting ’dark matter‘ detection experiments by moving the Large Underground Xenon dark-matter (LUX) detector from the surface laboratory, where it was assembled, to its underground home, a former south dakota gold mine. This facility is 4,850-foot deep. They took almost two days to move the equipment to the underground facility by taking utmost care in protecting the sensitive equipment from shocks and bumps.
The $15.2 million project began in the summer of 2009 and due to go into service later this year, Large Underground Xenon (LUX ) detector had to be brought in on air bearings to protect it against even small bumps and bounces. The scientists were conducting trials for this movement since 1st of june. Sanford Lab Facilities Technician Jake Quenzer, who constructed a transport cart for the LUX detector, used steel beams to assemble a 6,000-pound stand-in for the detector for use during trial runs.
This facility is of paramount importance as there are not many facilities in the world where a ‘dark matter‘ detection experiment can be conducted. Dark matter is a complex concept and setting up an equipment and conducting an experiment to detect it , is an extremely challenging assignment. If dark matter is ever detected, it will change our understandings of physics so far and open up a new era in physics.
Here are some facts showing the scale of this facility
- 30,000 (total square feet in the Davis Campus)
- 10,000 (square feet for LUX and Majorana)
- 29 (tons of rebar used construction)
- 525 (yards of concrete poured)
- 2,000 (cubic yards of gravel used to level floors)
- 80,000 (pounds of spiral ductwork)
- 75,000 (pounds of rectangular ductwork)
- 7 (miles of conduit)
- 30 (miles of wire)
- 4,191 (cage trips to the 4,850 Level to deliver supplies and staff)*
It is assumed that Dark energy fills up 75 % of universe and dark matter makes up 25% of the universe. The matter we see all around us is normal matter and we are able to detect only the normal matter so far. This normal matter only makes up 5% of the universe, rest is filled up by the dark energy and dark matter.
What is dark matter ? Dark matter cannot be seen directly with telescopes and it neither emits nor absorbs light or any other electromagnetic radiations .Its existence and properties are inferred from its gravitational effects on visible matter, radiation, and the large-scale structure of the universe. It is dark, it is yet to be detected and is thought to be made of particles like axions or WIMPS (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles). Existence of dark matter is widely accepted by the scientific community though strong experimental proofs doesn’t exist so far. The Sanford underground facility hosting the LUX is a significant step towards possible detection of dark matter.
courtesy : sanford underground laboratory