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  • richardmitnick 12:59 pm on May 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Decadal Survey of Astronomy and Astrophysics, , , NSF, , U.S. Extremely Large Telescope (US-ELT) Program   

    From NOAO: U S EXTREMELY LARGE TELESCOPE PROGRAM 

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    From NOAO

    U.S. EXTREMELY LARGE TELESCOPE PROGRAM
    21 May 2018
    U.S. national observatory and two extremely large telescope projects team up to enhance U.S. scientific leadership in astronomy and astrophysics
    A new research frontier in astronomy and astrophysics will open in the mid-2020s with the advent of ground-based extremely large optical-infrared telescopes (ELTs) with primary mirrors in the 20-m – 40-m range. U.S. scientific leadership in astronomy and astrophysics will be significantly enhanced if the broad U.S. community can take advantage of the power of these new ELTs.
    In that context, the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO), and the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory (TIO) have embarked on the development of a U.S. Extremely Large Telescope (US-ELT) Program.
    Our shared mission is to strengthen scientific leadership by the U.S. community-at-large through access to extremely large telescopes in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. This two-hemisphere model will provide the U.S. science community with greater and more diverse research opportunities than can be achieved with a single telescope, and hence more opportunities for leadership.
    Our immediate task is advocacy for frontier research programs led by U.S community scientists that can achieve exceptional advancements in humanity’s understanding of the cosmos.
    Our audience is the U.S. research community as represented by the upcoming Decadal Survey of Astronomy and Astrophysics (an enterprise of the U.S. National Academies).
    As an essential part of that immediate task, we will work with the U.S. research community to develop exemplar Key Science Programs (KSPs) within major research areas including the dark universe, first stars & first galaxies, exoplanet atmospheres, the surfaces of satellites and other small bodies throughout Solar System, and/or other topics to be proposed and prioritized by community-based working groups.
    Key Science Programs are envisioned to be open collaborations that gather observers, theorists, and data scientists together to exploit significant investments of Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) and Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) observing time, from tens to hundreds of nights.

    TMT-Thirty Meter Telescope, proposed and now approved for Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level

    Giant Magellan Telescope, to be at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Las Campanas Observatory, to be built some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile, over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high

    Some of these collaborations are expected to be international in nature. If well-justified by KSP plans, we envisage that at least 25% of the observing time at each international observatory will be available for the U.S. community.
    The KSPs chosen for presentation to the Decadal Survey will not be the final programs. Astronomy and astrophysics will continue to evolve rapidly during construction of GMT and TMT, thanks to previous investments in ground– and space-based observatories, such as the NASA Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), the NASA James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). Actual KSPs will be selected by peer-review before the start of GMT and TMT science operations.

    NASA/MIT TESS

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    LSST


    LSST Camera, built at SLAC



    LSST telescope, currently under construction on the El Peñón peak at Cerro Pachón Chile, a 2,682-meter-high mountain in Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing Gemini South and Southern Astrophysical Research Telescopes.

    NOAO, TIO, and GMTO are committed to enabling diversity within KSP collaborations. We seek to empower the best minds, no matter their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or institutional affiliation.
    More information about the U.S. ELT Program and how community scientists can join KSP development groups will be available after mid-June 2018.
    Issued by the National Science Foundation’s National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), with concurrence of the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory (TIO) and Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO)
    CONTACT: Dr. David Silva, Director, NOAO, dsilva@noao.edu


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    NOAO News
    NOAO is the US national research & development center for ground-based night time astronomy. In particular, NOAO is enabling the development of the US optical-infrared (O/IR) System, an alliance of public and private observatories allied for excellence in scientific research, education and public outreach.

    Our core mission is to provide public access to qualified professional researchers via peer-review to forefront scientific capabilities on telescopes operated by NOAO as well as other telescopes throughout the O/IR System. Today, these telescopes range in aperture size from 2-m to 10-m. NOAO is participating in the development of telescopes with aperture sizes of 20-m and larger as well as a unique 8-m telescope that will make a 10-year movie of the Southern sky.

    In support of this mission, NOAO is engaged in programs to develop the next generation of telescopes, instruments, and software tools necessary to enable exploration and investigation through the observable Universe, from planets orbiting other stars to the most distant galaxies in the Universe.

    To communicate the excitement of such world-class scientific research and technology development, NOAO has developed a nationally recognized Education and Public Outreach program. The main goals of the NOAO EPO program are to inspire young people to become explorers in science and research-based technology, and to reach out to groups and individuals who have been historically under-represented in the physics and astronomy science enterprise.

    The National Optical Astronomy Observatory is proud to be a US National Node in the International Year of Astronomy, 2009.

    About Our Observatories:
    Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO)

    Kitt Peak

    Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO) has its headquarters in Tucson and operates the Mayall 4-meter, the 3.5-meter WIYN , the 2.1-meter and Coudé Feed, and the 0.9-meter telescopes on Kitt Peak Mountain, about 55 miles southwest of the city.

    Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO)

    NOAO Cerro Tolo

    The Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) is located in northern Chile. CTIO operates the 4-meter, 1.5-meter, 0.9-meter, and Curtis Schmidt telescopes at this site.

    The NOAO System Science Center (NSSC)

    Gemini North
    Gemini North

    Gemini South telescope
    Gemini South

    The NOAO System Science Center (NSSC) at NOAO is the gateway for the U.S. astronomical community to the International Gemini Project: twin 8.1 meter telescopes in Hawaii and Chile that provide unprecendented coverage (northern and southern skies) and details of our universe.

    NOAO is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy under a Cooperative Agreement with the National Science Foundation.

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  • richardmitnick 9:29 am on March 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , New Zealand's Hikurangi subduction zone, NSF, Seabed earthquakes   

    From National Science Foundation: “Deep-sea observatories to offer new view of seabed earthquakes” 

    nsf
    National Science Foundation

    March 8, 2018

    Cheryl Dybas,
    NSF
    (703) 292-7734
    cdybas@nsf.gov

    John Callan,
    GNS Science New Zealand
    04-570-4732
    J.Callan@gns.cri.nz

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    On its current expedition, the drilling ship JOIDES Resolution is working off the coast of New Zealand. Credit: International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP).

    A mission to study New Zealand’s largest fault by lowering two sub-seafloor observatories into the Hikurangi subduction zone is underway this week.

    The expedition is led by scientists from The Pennsylvania State University (PennState) and GNS Science in New Zealand, and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP).

    “This expedition will yield information that’s key to understanding why destructive tsunamis happen after shallow earthquakes and after underwater landslides,” says James Allan, a program director in NSF’s Division of Ocean Sciences, which funds IODP.

    This is the second of two related expeditions aboard the scientific drilling ship JOIDES Resolution, and is aimed at studying the Hikurangi subduction zone to find out more about New Zealand’s largest earthquake and tsunami hazard.

    Studying an undersea earthquake zone

    The Hikurangi subduction zone, off the east coast of the North Island, is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, where the Pacific tectonic plate dives beneath the Australian plate.

    Scientists believe the Hikurangi subduction zone is capable of generating earthquakes greater than magnitude 8. Subduction zone earthquakes can produce major tsunamis because there are large and rapid displacements of the seafloor during these quakes.

    The voyage’s international science team will sample and analyze cores from below the seabed to understand the rock properties and conditions where these events occur.

    “We don’t yet understand the slow-slip processes that cause faults to behave in this way, and we don’t know very much about their relationship to large subduction zone earthquakes,” says expedition co-leader Demian Saffer of PennState.

    Expedition co-leader Laura Wallace of GNS Science adds, “slow-slip earthquakes are similar to other earthquakes in that they involve more rapid than normal movement along a fault. However, during a slow-slip event, it takes weeks to months for this fault movement to occur. That’s very different from an earthquake where fault movement happens in a matter of seconds, suddenly releasing energy.”

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    Instruments are lowered to the ocean floor on an IODP expedition. Credit: IODP.

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    IODP scientists and engineers ready instruments for an expedition. Credit: IODP.

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    Scientists on an IODP expedition work on instruments before lowering them to the sea floor. Credit: IODP.

    Best place for slow-slip quake research

    Slow-slip events occur at intervals of 12 to 24 months in the study area, and at a relatively shallow depths beneath the seabed — making this region one of the best places in the world for scientists to study them.

    Last year’s Kaikôura earthquake triggered a large slow-slip event off New Zealand’s east coast that covered an area of more than 15,000 square kilometers (5,792 square miles). The event started near the current planned IODP expedition; results from this research should shed new light on why it occurred.

    Investigating why and where slow-slip events happen is a key missing link in understanding how faults work. Wallace believes that “slow-slip events have great potential to improve our ability to forecast earthquakes.”

    Sub-seafloor observatories offer new view of quakes

    A major aim of the voyage is installing two borehole observatories into pre-drilled holes 500 meters (1,641 feet) below the seafloor. This will be the first time such observatories have been installed in New Zealand waters.

    They will bring new monitoring capabilities to New Zealand, which may help pave the way for offshore instrumentation needed for earthquake and tsunami early warning systems.

    The observatories contain high-tech measuring and monitoring equipment inside their steel casings, and will remain beneath the seafloor for five to 10 years. They will collect data on how rocks are strained during slow-slip events, as well as on changes in temperature and the flow of fluids through fault zones.

    The information will give scientists important new insights into the behavior of slow-slip events and their relationship to earthquakes along a subduction plate boundary.

    Understanding the links between slow-slip events and devastating earthquakes and tsunamis will allow for better risk modeling, say the researchers, and ultimately, better hazard preparation for coastal communities.

    -NSF-

    See the full article here .

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    Stem Education Coalition

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…we are the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.

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  • richardmitnick 2:55 pm on December 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Greenland Telescope achieves “first light”, NSF   

    From NSF: “Greenland Telescope achieves ‘first light'” 

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    National Science Foundation

    Greenland Telescope achieves “first light”

    1

    Using an artificial light source on South Mountain at the Thule Air Base, Greenland, the Greenland Telescope has proved its operational effectiveness and achieved a significant milestone toward being an operational telescope.

    The optical telescope, attached to the telescope’s 12-meter radio dish, with its focus set just shy of infinity, captured the lights on South Mountain. This is a significant milestone and step toward an operating telescope!

    The telescope’s science team will spend the coming weeks fine-tuning and pointing the telescope at known astronomical sources to help calibrate the instrument. They plan to participate with other telescopes in a springtime Very-Long-Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) -observation campaign. The Greenland Telescope is also set to observe as part of the Event Horizon Telescope campaign in April. Event Horizon is a project to create a large telescope array consisting of a global network of radio telescopes and combining data from several very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) stations around the Earth. The aim is to observe the immediate environment of the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole.

    Originally a North America Prototype Antenna for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, assembly of the telescope was completed in July 2017. OPP’s Arctic Research Support & Logistics program has provided guidance and planning support to the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) throughout the effort to install the telescope in Greenland. The Greenland Telescope project is a joint effort between SAO and ASIAA in Taiwan.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…we are the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:13 pm on July 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , DEll EMC Stampede 2 supercomputer, NSF, ,   

    From NSF: “Stampede2 forges new frontier in advanced computing” 

    nsf
    National Science Foundation

    July 28, 2017

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) today realized the initial phase of its $30 million investment to upgrade the nation’s computational research infrastructure through the dedication of Stampede2, one of the most powerful supercomputing systems in the world. Based at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin, this strategic national resource will serve tens of thousands of researchers and educators across the U.S.

    TACC Maverick HP NVIDIA supercomputer

    TACC Lonestar Cray XC40 supercomputer

    Dell Poweredge U Texas Austin Stampede Supercomputer. Texas Advanced Computer Center 9.6 PF

    TACC HPE Apollo 8000 Hikari supercomputer

    TACC Maverick HP NVIDIA supercomputer

    TACC DELL EMC Stampede2 supercomputer

    “Building on the success of the initial Stampede system, the Stampede team has partnered with other institutions as well as industry to bring the latest in forward-looking computing technologies combined with deep computational and data science expertise to take on some of the most challenging science and engineering frontiers,” said Irene Qualters, director of NSF’s Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure.

    Stampede2 is the newest strategic supercomputing resource for the nation’s research and education community, enabling scientists and engineers across the U.S., from multiple disciplines, to answer questions at the forefront of science and engineering. Importantly, Stampede2 leverages NSF’s existing investments in computational and data science, as well as user services, allowing academic researchers access to capabilities beyond the reach of a single institution while complementing other national high-performance computing infrastructure.

    Further, Stampede2 builds upon the initial Stampede system, also funded by NSF, which processed more than eight million successful jobs and delivered over three billion core hours of computation since it became operational in 2013.

    Stampede2 will offer more than twice the overall memory, storage capacity, bandwidth and system performance of the initial Stampede system. Yet Stampede2 will consume only half as much power and occupy just half the physical space of its predecessor. Innovations in how the supercomputer is cooled also resulted in efficiencies: Stampede2 is connected to a chilled water system that cools more cost-effectively and with less impact to the power grid than the standard air-conditioned approach.

    Once additional hardware and processors are added in the summer, Stampede2 will be able to process jobs at 18 petaflops, or 18 quadrillion mathematical operations per second, at peak performance. When Stampede2 is fully operational later this fall, the system will have roughly the processing power of 100,000 desktop computers; this increased speed and power will allow scientists and engineers to tackle larger, more complex problems that were not previously possible.

    Computational scientists and engineers pursuing a wide range of applications — from researchers who conduct large-scale simulations and data analyses on large swaths of the system, to those who interact with the system through web-based community platforms — will access Stampede2 through the NSF-supported eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE).

    Researchers have already started using the system to conduct large-scale scientific studies. Some preliminary findings from early user projects include:

    Tumor identification from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data at The University of Texas at Austin.
    Real-time weather forecasting at the University of Oklahoma that has helped direct storm-chaser trucks.
    Earthquake predictions for the Southern California region at the University of California, San Diego that achieved a fivefold performance improvement over previously reported results.
    Teams from Stephen Hawking’s cosmology research laboratory at Cambridge University, leveraging Stampede2, achieved unprecedented comparisons of previously performed simulations with gravitational wave data observed by the NSF-funded Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO).

    Several leading universities are collaborating with TACC to enable Stampede2, including Clemson University, Cornell University, Indiana University, The Ohio State University and the University of Colorado at Boulder. They are joined by industry partners Dell EMC, Intel Corporation and Seagate Technology, who are providing cyberinfrastructure expertise and services for the project.

    Stampede2 is expected to serve the scientific community through 2021, supporting tens of thousands of researchers during this period. An additional NSF award for $24 million was recently granted to cover upcoming operations and maintenance costs for the system.

    See the full article here .

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    Stem Education Coalition

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…we are the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.

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  • richardmitnick 12:55 pm on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The National Science Foundation and making..., , , NSF, NSF is committed to continued engagement with the maker community, NSF's early investments in fundamental technologies and techniques have helped to enable the maker movement   

    From NSF: “The National Science Foundation and making…” 

    nsf
    National Science Foundation

    1
    Making offers the opportunity to learn and apply science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) knowledge and processes, including collaboration, communication and iterative design. Credit: Matthew Berland, University of Wisconsin, Madison

    6.20.17
    Sarah Bates
    (703) 292-7738
    sabates@nsf.gov

    June 20, 2017

    Discoveries often begin with the initiative of a student, a young person, an educator, an entrepreneur, or anyone with the drive to make something new. The National Science Foundation (NSF) funds science and engineering research and technological innovation built on the creativity and imagination of individuals such as these.

    Now, modern-day tinkerers of do-it-yourself technology, known as makers, are driving a new era of American innovation. Makers cross all age, background and skill levels, from early childhood through adulthood. They have in common the determination to see their ideas come to life.

    Making has a wide appeal. Making allows people to follow their own interests, to create something uniquely theirs, and to apply the knowledge they have gained to produce products that meet societal needs. Making offers the opportunity to learn and apply science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) knowledge and processes, including collaboration, communication and iterative design.

    NSF’s early investments in fundamental technologies and techniques have helped to enable the maker movement.

    For example, NSF strategic investments in additive manufacturing and computer science enabled many of the innovations underlying 3-D printing, computer-aided design, geometric modeling and embedded systems.

    3-D printing alone is a keystone of making. With desktop 3-D printers, students and learners of all ages can experience firsthand the challenges and opportunities of manufacturing.

    NSF also has a history of support for education within its investments in engineering research centers and science and technology centers. Education programs include out-of-school activities and challenges that engage students and teachers in the manufacturing process.

    NSF supports a wide range of making, from community engagement to education and workforce development, to research on learning, to manufacturing and commercialization.

    NSF funds making-related activities across fields.
    NSF invests millions of dollars in making-related activities and research each year.
    NSF partners with academic institutions, other federal agencies and industry to promote access to making tools, spaces, collaborators, mentors and advisors, and to study the impact on learning.
    NSF adheres to a public access policy, fostering the democratization of knowledge and resources, a core tenet of making.

    The maker movement offers new opportunities for NSF to support STEM education, student retention, broadening participation, democratization of manufacturing, and new paths for innovations.NSF-funded projects continue to:

    spur innovation across a broad range of technologies, leading to the creation of small businesses.
    provide a better understanding of who participates in making, in what contexts, how and why.
    study the outcomes of making and participation in making, including the development of metrics and instrumentation.
    enhance the understanding and practice of how making can foster STEM learning.
    seek to understand how making can be leveraged to broaden participation in all areas and types of STEM interests and careers.

    NSF is committed to continued engagement with the maker community. NSF continues to:

    Highlight opportunities to support research and education in these and other topics across the agency, building on the significant investments that it has already made.
    Catalyze conversations between researchers and practitioners, including representatives from organizations such as community maker spaces, engineering schools, libraries and museums, and manufacturers.
    Award making-related grants, including those to:
    Leverage existing relationships with universities and industry to encourage integration of maker activities and spaces into the school curriculum and in out-of-school environments.
    Develop technologies and kits that promote student engagement in design, advanced manufacturing and STEM.
    Broaden participation in making by individuals from underrepresented groups.
    Develop an evidence-driven knowledge base about effective learning outcomes.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…we are the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.

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  • richardmitnick 1:35 pm on March 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Ellie White, , NSF, , WV Public Broadcasting   

    From GBO via WV Public Broadcasting: “W.Va. Family Fights to Save Green Bank Observatory” 

    gbo-logo

    Green Bank Radio Telescope, West Virginia, USA
    Green Bank Radio Telescope, West Virginia, USA

    gbo-sign

    Green Bank Observatory

    1

    West Virginia Public Broadcasting

    3.15.17
    Anne Li

    2
    Ellie White of Barboursville, West Virginia, and her family launched a campaign called Go Green Bank Observatory convince the National Science Foundation to not divest from Green Bank Observatory.
    Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

    Nestled in the hills in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, is the Green Bank Telescope. At 485 feet tall and about 300 feet across, it’s the largest fully-steerable telescope in the world, and it belongs to Green Bank Observatory.

    Since the observatory opened in 1957, researchers have used the facility to make several discoveries, like organic prebiotic molecules — the building blocks of life. The Green Bank Telescope is also one of only two radio telescopes in the world searching for signs of intelligent life in space.

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    Breakthrough Listen

    Breakthrough Listen is the largest ever scientific research program aimed at finding evidence of civilizations beyond Earth. The scope and power of the search are on an unprecedented scale:

    The program includes a survey of the 1,000,000 closest stars to Earth. It scans the center of our galaxy and the entire galactic plane. Beyond the Milky Way, it listens for messages from the 100 closest galaxies to ours.

    The instruments used are among the world’s most powerful. They are 50 times more sensitive than existing telescopes dedicated to the search for intelligence.

    The radio surveys cover 10 times more of the sky than previous programs. They also cover at least 5 times more of the radio spectrum – and do it 100 times faster. They are sensitive enough to hear a common aircraft radar transmitting to us from any of the 1000 nearest stars.

    The GBT plays a key role in the Breakthough Listen project, and roughly 20% of the time available on the GBT is dedicated to this research.

    Breakthrough Listen is also carrying out the deepest and broadest ever search for optical laser transmissions. These spectroscopic searches are 1000 times more effective at finding laser signals than ordinary visible light surveys. They could detect a 100 watt laser (the energy of a normal household bulb) from 25 trillion miles away.

    Listen combines these instruments with innovative software and data analysis techniques.

    The initiative will span 10 years and commit a total of $100,000,000.

    More information on Breakthrough Listen is available at https://breakthroughinitiatives.org/Initiative/1

    But today, the telescope and the facility that supports it are under federal review — with the possibility of losing funding or being dismantled.

    In the face of that threat, one West Virginia family hopes to convince the powers that be of the facility’s value to science, education and the small town in which the telescope resides.

    “It’s almost like a tiny metropolitan city in the middle of rural West Virginia,” said Ellie White, a 16-year-old from Barboursville, West Virginia. “That kind of resource is invaluable for kids across the state and across the country, who are going to be tomorrow’s innovators, engineers, scientists, politicians, artists.”

    White’s family volunteered to start a campaign called Go Green Bank Observatory to rally support from across the country and show the National Science Foundation, which used to almost completely fund the observatory, that Green Bank Observatory is worth keeping. In 2012, the NSF published a portfolio review that recommended at least partially divesting from several observatories around the country that no longer have as large of a scientific impact as they used to. Green Bank Observatory was on that list.

    Proposed operational changes for Green Bank Observatory range from continuing to partially fund its operations to shutting down its research operations and turning it into a technology park, or completely tearing it down.

    “This is one of the difficult things the NSF has to do,” said Edward Ahjar, an astronomer at the NSF. “All of our facilities do great science, and that’s why we fund them. But when we start having less and less money to spread around, then we have to prioritize them. Which are doing the most important science now? Which are lower ranked?”

    The Fight to Keep Green Bank Observatory Open

    Last fall, Go Green Bank Observatory encouraged fans to speak at two public scoping meetings where Ahjar and other representatives from the NSF would be present to hear the public’s input about the divestment process.

    About 350 people filled the seats of an auditorium at the observatory. Several in attendance were affiliated with West Virginia University, which since 2006 has received more than $14.5 million in grant dollars for research related to the Green Bank Telescope.

    “When I started applying for graduate school, WVU was one of my top choices,” said Kaustubh Rajwade, a graduate student from India in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at WVU. “The only reason I came here was so I could use the Green Bank Telescope.”

    Others, like Buster Varner, a local fire chief, were more concerned about Green Bank Observatory’s role in the community as a de facto community center, where people can hold meetings and classes.

    “Whenever we had a catastrophe, we can go to Mike,” Varner said, referring to Mike Holstine, the business manager at Green Bank Observatory. “I don’t know much about this science, and there’s a lot of people here who does and that’s great. But I do not want anything to happen to this facility, period.”

    The NSF once almost completely funded Green Bank Observatory’s operations. But Holstine said that especially in the past five years, the observatory saw a need to diversify its sources of funding — in part because outside organizations and researchers expressed a willingness to pay for time on the telescope, but also due to the clear indicators that the observatory needed to rely less on the NSF.

    Green Bank Observatory employs between 100 and 140 people — more than half of whom are from Pocahontas County — depending on the time of year. The money also helps the observatory maintain its own infrastructure in an isolated and rural area.

    “You kind of need to think of us as a town, a self-contained town,” Holstine explained. “We have our own roads. We have our own water system. We have our own wastewater system. We take care of our own buildings. We mow our own grass; we cut our own trees. We have to plow snow in the winter.”

    A Future Without Green Bank Observatory

    For White, the Observatory isn’t only worth keeping because of its accomplishments — but also because of its efforts to train the next generation of scientists. When she was younger, White was convinced she wanted to be an artist when she grew up. But since playing among the telescopes as a child, she has gone on to work on projects under the mentorship of astronomers and graduate students from all over the world.

    She’s not the only teen who’s been impacted by the observatory’s work; through the Pulsar Search Collaboratory, more than 2,000 high school students have worked with the Green Bank Observatory through a partnership with West Virginia University since 2007.

    “Just generally being here, you learn something every day. It’s like learning a new language through immersion,” White said.

    The NSF will reach its decision about the Green Bank Observatory’s fate by the end of this year or the beginning of next year. At 16 years old, White hopes to get her doctorate in astrophysics and one day find full employment at the observatory. If it shuts down, White said, she might have to look for employment out of state.

    See the full article here .

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    Mission Statement

    Green Bank Observatory enables leading edge research at radio wavelengths by offering telescope, facility and advanced instrumentation access to the astronomy community as well as to other basic and applied research communities. With radio astronomy as its foundation, the Green Bank Observatory is a world leader in advancing research, innovation, and education.

    History

    60 years ago, the trailblazers of American radio astronomy declared this facility their home, establishing the first ever National Radio Astronomy Observatory within the United States and the first ever national laboratory dedicated to open access science. Today their legacy is alive and well.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:21 am on March 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER), NSF,   

    From NSF: “NSF announces new Long-Term Ecological Research sites off Alaska, New England coasts” 

    nsf
    National Science Foundation

    March 1, 2017

    Scientists will expand research on ocean food webs in ecosystems that include recreational and commercial fisheries.

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    Scientists at the Northern Gulf of Alaska LTER site conduct research off the coast of Alaska.

    National Science Foundation (NSF) grants will support two new Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites. Scientists will conduct research along the Northeast U.S. continental shelf and in the northern Gulf of Alaska, regions known for productive fisheries and abundant marine resources.

    The new LTER sites were each awarded $5.6 million over five years, adding to 25 existing LTER sites in ecosystems including the open ocean, coral reefs, deserts and grasslands. The complex food webs in these regions are affected by human activities, short-term environmental variability and long-term ecosystem changes.

    “The new LTER sites will bring new locations, technologies and scientists to the challenge of understanding our coastal oceans,” says Rick Murray, director of NSF’s Division of Ocean Sciences. “The sites are in areas where there’s much recreational and commercial fishing, and both sites are in the midst of significant environmental changes.”

    Murray adds that “research at the new sites will matter to everyone who eats U.S. seafood, is involved in coastal industries, or depends on the coastal oceans in any way. That includes all of us, through the oceans’ importance in weather and climate and a long list of other ‘ecosystem services’ the sea provides.”

    Researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), along with scientists at the University of Massachusetts, Wellesley College and the University of Rhode Island, will lead the Northeast U.S. Shelf LTER site.

    Scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, in collaboration with researchers at Western Washington University, Oregon State University and the University of California, Santa Cruz, will manage the Northern Gulf of Alaska LTER site.

    Northeast U.S. Shelf LTER site

    Scientists have documented environmental changes in the Atlantic Ocean off the U.S. Northeast coast, but they’ve lacked an understanding of the links among the ocean environment, plankton food webs and fish stocks. That has limited their ability to predict how this ecosystem will respond to environmental change. Research at the new LTER site will fill that gap.

    The NSF Northeast U.S. Shelf LTER site spans the continental shelf across an area connecting the WHOI-operated Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory with the Pioneer Array, part of NSF’s Ocean Observatories Initiative. The Pioneer Array, a group of moorings and other instruments, is located off the coast of southern New England where coastal waters meet the open ocean.

    These instruments collect continuous data and, along with samples retrieved by scientists aboard ships, will become integral parts of ecological models of the changing Atlantic ecosystem.

    “This is an exciting opportunity to develop a much more detailed understanding of the ocean,” says WHOI biologist Heidi Sosik, principal investigator of the project. “We want to know how different pathways in the food web may shift seasonally or with environmental change. Ultimately, we hope this knowledge can help promote science-based stewardship of marine ecosystems and be applied to the ocean beyond the waters of the Northeast.”

    Northern Gulf of Alaska LTER site

    Two decades of research along Alaska’s Seward Line — a series of ocean sampling stations extending from Resurrection Bay near Seward, Alaska to the continental slope 150 miles offshore — are the foundation of the new NSF Northern Gulf of Alaska LTER site.

    “We’ve monitored Prince William Sound and the continental shelf long enough to know where many of the important features are,” says Russ Hopcroft, a scientist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the principal investigator of the new LTER site. “But until now, we haven’t been able to study the processes and mechanisms in-depth behind what we’ve been observing.”

    The new LTER site will allow researchers to make observations across a larger geographic region. It will also give scientists an opportunity to undertake studies aboard the NSF research vessel Sikuliaq, operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

    Researchers at the Northern Gulf of Alaska LTER site will study the gulf’s waters, which support the well-known fish, crabs, seabirds and marine mammals of Alaska.

    The scientists say that the addition of the Northern Gulf of Alaska site to the LTER network will lead to a better understanding of an ecosystem with many of the nation’s largest fisheries.

    See the full article here .

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    The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…we are the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.

    seal

     
  • richardmitnick 1:00 pm on January 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , NSF, NSF On the block,   

    From Nature: “Legendary radio telescope hangs in the balance” 

    Nature Mag
    Nature

    10 January 2017
    Alexandra Witze

    US National Science Foundation looks to slash funding for Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory.

    Grapevine, Texas

    NAIC/Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico, USA
    NAIC/Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico, USA

    Researchers hope that there is a way to stop the iconic Arecibo Observatory from closing down.

    It is the radio telescope that hunts killer asteroids, probes distant cosmic blasts and decades ago sent Earth’s most powerful message to the stars. Yet the storied Arecibo Observatory, an enormous aluminium dish nestled in a Puerto Rican sinkhole, might soon find itself out of the science game.

    The US National Science Foundation (NSF), which owns the observatory, wants to offload the facility to free up money for newer ones. In the coming weeks, it will ask for ideas about how Arecibo might be managed if the NSF reduces its current US$8.2-million annual contribution. By May, the agency plans to release a final environmental-impact statement, a federally mandated analysis of the effects of various scenarios — from continuing to run Arecibo to mothballing or even demolishing its iconic dish. Soon after that, the NSF will decide which path to take.

    Arecibo advocates are not going to let the telescope die without a fight. On 4 January, they pressed their case at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Grapevine, Texas — arguing that Arecibo is putting out some of the best science it has ever done, and that the NSF is moving too quickly to divest itself of an astronomical treasure.

    “Arecibo definitely has a future,” says Francisco Cordova, the observatory’s director. “Though it will be a different future.”

    Arecibo is playing a key part in illuminating the mystery of fast radio bursts, which are emerging as a completely new class of celestial phenomenon. And at the astronomy meeting, observatory scientists revealed a previously unknown contributor to the Universe’s cosmic microwave background glow — cold electrons — plus a pair of pulsars that has surprisingly erratic radio emissions.

    “It is still a state-of-the-art observatory,” says Nicholas White, senior vice-president for science at the Universities Space Research Association in Columbia, Maryland, which helps to manage Arecibo for the NSF.

    NSF officials agree. But they say they need money for new projects such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, which is under construction in Chile (see ‘On the block’). A 2012 review of the NSF’s astronomy portfolio recommended cutting support for some of its smaller and older facilities. Although Arecibo was not among them, the report recommended that the NSF evaluate the facility’s status later in the decade.

    nsf-on-the-block
    SOAR, Southern Astrophysical Research; WIYN, Wisconsin–Indiana–Yale–National Optical Astronomy Observatory.
    CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO MAKE IT READABLE

    Some of the observatories targeted in the review have found potential partners: New Mexico State University in Las Cruces is leading an effort to take over the Dunn Solar Telescope in Sunspot, New Mexico. Others remain in limbo, including the 100-metre radio telescope in Green Bank, West, where university partners have offered limited help.

    In October, the NSF released a draft environmental impact statement for Arecibo that outlines how various management options would affect everything from endangered plants to local tourism. The NSF would prefer to find collaborators to shoulder most of the cost of operating the observatory for science purposes. But the draft statement includes the possibility of shuttering the facility, and even details which explosive would be needed to dismantle the 305-metre-wide dish.

    NSF officials included this bleak option to satisfy federal rules that require them to describe the environmental impact of all possible outcomes. “We specifically leaned towards making things look a bit more drastic,” says James Ulvestad, head of the NSF’s astronomy division.

    Gravitational-wave astronomers are among those who are unhappy about the idea of Arecibo going offline. The international NANOGrav consortium uses about 850 hours of Arecibo time each year to discern how ripples in space-time affect radio pulsars. Between Arecibo and Green Bank, the team is just now reaching the sensitivity at which it should be able to detect gravitational waves. “We’re so close,” says Xavier Siemens, an astrophysicist at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. “Losing Arecibo would mean losing US leadership in the field.”

    Arecibo also has a unique role in stimulating public interest in science, says Edgard Rivera-Valentín, a planetary radar specialist at the observatory. Like many Puerto Ricans, he first visited Arecibo as a child, on a family trip. “It just blew me away,” he says. “I knew pretty much then that I wanted to do astronomy.”

    The NSF pays for roughly two-thirds of Arecibo’s $12-million annual budget. Half of that comes from its astronomy division and half from its atmospheric and geospace sciences division, which uses Arecibo to study Earth’s ionosphere. The remainder comes from NASA, which tracks near-Earth asteroids from Arecibo and would probably keep doing so if other collaborators stepped in to make up for NSF cutbacks.

    Arecibo’s current operating contract ends in March 2018. After that, new approaches to make ends meet could include charging scientists hourly rates to use the observatory, instead of having them apply for time through federal agencies. “This is where the rubber hits the road,” says White.

    See the full article here .

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    Nature is a weekly international journal publishing the finest peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology on the basis of its originality, importance, interdisciplinary interest, timeliness, accessibility, elegance and surprising conclusions. Nature also provides rapid, authoritative, insightful and arresting news and interpretation of topical and coming trends affecting science, scientists and the wider public.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:18 am on October 26, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , NSF,   

    From esnet: “National Science Foundation & Department of Energy’s ESnet Launch Innovative Program for Women Engineers” 

    1

    ESnet

    2016-10-26

    Women in Networking @SC (WINS) Kicks off this week in Salt Lake City!

    1
    (Left to Right) Julia Locke (LANL), Debbie Fligor (SC15 WINS returning participant, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Jessica Schaffer (Georgia Tech), Indira Kassymkhanova (LBNL), Denise Grayson (Sandia), Kali McLennan (Univ. of Oklahoma), Angie Asmus (CSU). Not in photo: Amber Rasche (N. Dakota State) and Julie Staats (CENIC).

    The University of Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) and The Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research (KINBER) together with the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Science Network (ESnet) today announce the official launch of an Networking at SC (WINS) program.

    Funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and directly from ESnet, the program funds eight early to mid-career women in the research and education (R&E) network community to participate in the 2016 setup, build out and live operation of SCinet, the Supercomputing Conference’s (SC) ultra high performance network. SCinet supports large-scale computing demonstrations at SC, the premier international conference on high performance computing, networking, data storage and data analysis and is attended by over 10,000 of the leading minds in these fields.

    The SC16 WINS program kicked off this week as the selected participants from across the U.S., headed to Salt Lake City, the site of the 2016 conference to begin laying the groundwork for SCinet inside the Salt Palace Convention Center. The WINS participants join over 250 volunteers that make up the SCinet engineering team and will work side by side with the team and their mentors to put the network into full production service when the conference begins on November 12. The women will return to Salt Lake City a week before the conference to complete the installation of the network.

    “We are estimating that SCinet will be outfitted with a massive 3.5 Terabits per second (Tbps) of bandwidth for the conference and will be built from the ground up with leading edge network equipment and services (even pre-commercial in some instances) and will be considered the fastest network in the world during its operation,” said Corby Schmitz, SC16 SCinet Chair.”

    The WINS participants will support a wide range of technical areas that comprise SCinet’s incredible operation, including wide area networking, network security, wireless networking, routing, network architecture and other specialties.

    2
    Several WINS participants hard at work with their mentors configuring routers & switches

    “While demand for jobs in IT continues to increase, the number of women joining the IT workforce has been on the decline for many years,” said Marla Meehl, Network Director from UCAR and co-PI of the NSF grant. “WINS aims to help close this gap and help to build and diversify the IT workforce giving women professionals a truly unique opportunity to gain hands-on expertise in a variety of networking roles while also developing mentoring relationships with recognized technical leaders.”

    Funds are being provided by the NSF through a $135,000 grant and via direct funding from ESnet supported by Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) in DOE Office of Science. Funding covers all travel expenses related to participating in the setup and operation of SCinet and will also provide travel funds for the participants to share their experiences at events like The Quilt Member Meetings, Regional Networking Member meetings, and the DOE National Lab Information Technology Annual Meeting.

    “Not only is WINS providing hands-on engineering training to the participants but also the opportunity to present their experiences with the broader networking community throughout the year. This experience helps to expand important leadership and presentations skills and grow their professional connections with peers and executives alike,” said Wendy Huntoon, president and CEO of KINBER and co-PI of the NSF grant.”

    The program also represents a unique cross-agency collaboration between the NSF and DOE. Both agencies recognize that the pursuit of knowledge and science discovery that these funding organizations support depends on bringing the best ideas from people of various backgrounds to the table.

    “Bringing together diverse voices and perspectives to any team in any field has been proven to lead to more creative solutions to achieve a common goal,” says Lauren Rotman, Science Engagement Group Lead, ESnet. “It is vital to our future that we bring every expert voice, every new idea to bear if our community is to tackle some of our society’s grandest challenges from understanding climate change to revolutionizing cancer treatment.”

    2016 WINS Participants are:

    Denise Grayson, Sandia National Labs (Network Security Team), DOE-funded
    Julia Locke, Los Alamos National Lab (Fiber and Edge Network Teams), DOE-funded
    Angie Asmus, Colorado State (Edge Network Team), NSF-funded
    Kali McLennan, University of Oklahoma (WAN Transport Team), NSF-funded
    Amber Rasche, North Dakota State University (Communications Team), NSF-funded
    Jessica Shaffer, Georgia Institute of Tech (Routing Team), NSF-funded
    Julia Staats, CENIC (DevOps Team), NSF-funded
    Indira Kassymkhanova, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (DevOps and Routing Teams), DOE-funded

    The WINS Supporting Organizations:
    The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR)
    http://www2.ucar.edu/

    The Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research (KINBER)
    http:www.kinber.org

    THe Department of Energy’s Energy Sciences Network (ESnet)
    http://www.es.net

    See the full article here .

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    Created in 1986, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) is a high-performance network built to support unclassified science research. ESnet connects more than 40 DOE research sites—including the entire National Laboratory system, supercomputing facilities and major scientific instruments—as well as hundreds of other science networks around the world and the Internet.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:29 pm on September 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , BHSU Underground Campus (BHUC) at SURF, NSF,   

    From SURF: “Program gives students unique experience” 

    SURF logo
    Sanford Underground levels

    Sanford Underground Research facility

    September 7, 2016
    Kimberly Talcott, Black Hills State University

    1
    Left to right: Dana Harvey, Joseph Barnes, Patrisse Vasek, Madeline Alisa Valentin, Pauline Dredger, Kingsley Vincent Chow. Credit: Black Hills State University

    Talk about a great summer gig. For 10 weeks, Dana Harvey learned all about modern research methods and tools through a National Science Foundation (NSF) program: Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU).

    “I got to see what it is like to really work in a lab,” said Harvey, a physics major at Davidson College in North Carolina. “It was a great experience. I learned a lot and got to do some cool research.” Harvey was one of six students who participated in this year’s program. The students each worked with a mentor throughout the program.

    In April, Black Hills State University (BHSU) received a grant of more than $250,000 from the NSF to support students participating in undergraduate science research at Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Lab). The funds will be used over three years to provide 21 college-level students a 10-week hands-on research experience.

    The program director, Brianna Mount, an assistant research professor at BHSU, said the program gives student researchers opportunities to engage in research related to some of the most important physics experiments of our time—searching for dark matter and investigating properties of the neutrino—as well as research in other scientific fields, specifically chemistry and biology.

    “Students will use this experience as a spring-board toward pursuing a career in science. This will help students prepare for graduate school or careers in astrophysics, microbiology and environmental chemistry,” said Mount.

    The program also helps students become proficient in both day-to-day lab procedures and data analysis. They develop their abilities to communicate science through speaking and writing as well, said Mount.

    Students supported by the grant funds lived on campus and worked with BHSU faculty mentors at the BHSU Underground Campus (BHUC) at Sanford Lab in Lead. The BHUC is a unique, world-class research space for scientists from institutions around the globe, enabling discovery in many disciplines. The BHUC also works with researchers from the Berkeley Low-Background Facility, which gives additional opportunities to the REU students.

    “BHSU is taking full advantage of the new infrastructure at the BHSU Underground Campus at Sanford Lab,” said Rod Custer, former BHSU provost. “Over the past eight years, BHSU students and researchers have become increasingly involved in underground projects, and we continue to share that knowledge with students across the country through this work with the National Science Foundation. This is a very prestigious grant and BHSU is excited about the unique research opportunities for students from across the nation.”

    In addition to working on their summer research projects, students worked with BHSU faculty and staff on career mentoring, including professional development sessions on selecting graduate schools and applying for jobs in scientific industries.

    Students participating in the BHSU undergraduate research experience include:

    Kingsley Vincent Chow, Diabolo Valley College, Pleasant Hill, Calif.

    Madeline Alisa Valentin, Augustana University, Sioux Falls

    Joseph Barnes, Benedictine College, Atchison, Kan.

    Patrisse Vasek, Oglala Lakota College, Kyle, S.D.

    Dana Harvey, Davidson College, Davidson, N.C.

    Pauline Dredger, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan.

    See the full article here .

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    About us.
    The Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, South Dakota, advances our understanding of the universe by providing laboratory space deep underground, where sensitive physics experiments can be shielded from cosmic radiation. Researchers at the Sanford Lab explore some of the most challenging questions facing 21st century physics, such as the origin of matter, the nature of dark matter and the properties of neutrinos. The facility also hosts experiments in other disciplines—including geology, biology and engineering.

    The Sanford Lab is located at the former Homestake gold mine, which was a physics landmark long before being converted into a dedicated science facility. Nuclear chemist Ray Davis earned a share of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2002 for a solar neutrino experiment he installed 4,850 feet underground in the mine.

    Homestake closed in 2003, but the company donated the property to South Dakota in 2006 for use as an underground laboratory. That same year, philanthropist T. Denny Sanford donated $70 million to the project. The South Dakota Legislature also created the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority to operate the lab. The state Legislature has committed more than $40 million in state funds to the project, and South Dakota also obtained a $10 million Community Development Block Grant to help rehabilitate the facility.

    In 2007, after the National Science Foundation named Homestake as the preferred site for a proposed national Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL), the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA) began reopening the former gold mine.

    In December 2010, the National Science Board decided not to fund further design of DUSEL. However, in 2011 the Department of Energy, through the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, agreed to support ongoing science operations at Sanford Lab, while investigating how to use the underground research facility for other longer-term experiments. The SDSTA, which owns Sanford Lab, continues to operate the facility under that agreement with Berkeley Lab.

    The first two major physics experiments at the Sanford Lab are 4,850 feet underground in an area called the Davis Campus, named for the late Ray Davis. The Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment is housed in the same cavern excavated for Ray Davis’s experiment in the 1960s.
    LUX/Dark matter experiment at SURFLUX/Dark matter experiment at SURF

    In October 2013, after an initial run of 80 days, LUX was determined to be the most sensitive detector yet to search for dark matter—a mysterious, yet-to-be-detected substance thought to be the most prevalent matter in the universe. The Majorana Demonstrator experiment, also on the 4850 Level, is searching for a rare phenomenon called “neutrinoless double-beta decay” that could reveal whether subatomic particles called neutrinos can be their own antiparticle. Detection of neutrinoless double-beta decay could help determine why matter prevailed over antimatter. The Majorana Demonstrator experiment is adjacent to the original Davis cavern.

    Another major experiment, the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment (LBNE)—a collaboration with Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) and Sanford Lab, is in the preliminary design stages. The project got a major boost last year when Congress approved and the president signed an Omnibus Appropriations bill that will fund LBNE operations through FY 2014. Called the “next frontier of particle physics,” LBNE will follow neutrinos as they travel 800 miles through the earth, from FermiLab in Batavia, Ill., to Sanford Lab.

    Fermilab LBNE
    LBNE

     
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