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University of Minnesota celebrates major milestone in completion of neutrino detector in northern Minnesota

14,000-ton detector is one of the largest structures of its kind in the world

July 22, 2014

What: Celebration of major milestone in NOvA Far Detector; tours of nearly completed facility
When: 1-4 p.m., Thursday, July 24, 2014; 1 p.m.-Lunch and tours; 2:30 p.m.-Program; 3:15 p.m.-Reception and Tours
Who: Dignitaries from the U.S. Department of Energy, Fermilab, and University of Minnesota; NOvA workers; members of the community
Where: NOvA Far Detector, 10709 Bright Star Road, Orr, MN 55771

Media note: This is an invitation-only event. RSVP’s are required. Media interested in attending should contact Rhonda Zurn at rzurn@umn.edu or Brooke Dillon at bldillon@umn.edu.

The University of Minnesota reaches a major milestone this week when it celebrates the completion of its role in building a 14,000-ton detector in northern Minnesota that could yield crucial information about the early moments of the universe. More than 700 University of Minnesota undergraduate students in 24 different academic majors built the detector over four years in a 125,000-square-foot warehouse in Minneapolis. The detector is one of the largest plastic structures in the world.

The celebration is 1-4 p.m., Thursday, July 24 at the NOvA Far Detector, 10709 Bright Star Road, Orr, MN 55771. Speakers include University of Minnesota Vice President for Reseach Brian Herman, Pepin Carolan from the U.S. Department of Energy, and Regina Rameka from Fermilab. The event will also include tours of the detector.

The NUMI Off-Axis electron neutrino Appearance, or NOvA, experiment consists of two huge particle detectors placed 500 miles apart, and its job is to explore the properties of an intense beam of ghostly sub-atomic particles called neutrinos. Neutrinos are abundant in nature, but they very rarely interact with other matter. Studying them could unlock clues about the beginning of the universe.

NOvA is a $278 million initiative involving 39 universities and laboratories in seven countries, with primary support by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science. The University of Minnesota operates the detector under a cooperative agreement with the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The NOvA lab is expected to complete all requirements for full operation later this year.

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