KM3NeTKM3NeT: Astroparticle & Oscillations Research with Cosmics in the Abyss

Contact details:

Prof. dr. M.J.G. de Jong
Nikhef Science Park 105 1098 XG Amsterdam

KM3NeT is a large distributed research infrastructure that is comprised of a network of deep-sea neutrino telescopes in the Mediterranean Sea with user ports for Earth and Sea sciences. The main objectives of KM3NeT are the discovery and subsequent observation of high-energy neutrino sources in the Universe and the determination of the mass hierarchy of neutrinos.

KM3NeT is a large Research Infrastructure that will consist of a network of deep-sea neutrino telescopes in the Mediterranean sea. It will combine the study of fundamental particle physics with observation of the sources of high-energy cosmic neutrinos, yielding a unique way to study the Universe.
The infrastructure consists of three so-called building blocks. A building block is comprised of 115 strings, each string has 18 optical modules module with 31 photo-multiplier tubes (PMTs). This 3-dimensional array of photo-sensors allows for the detection of the Cherenkov light produced by relativistic particles emerging from neutrino interactions. Two building blocks will be configured to fully explore cosmic neutrino sources (ARCA6). One building block will be configured to measure precisely atmospheric neutrino oscillations (ORCA7). ARCA will be realised at the Capo Passero site (Italy) and ORCA at the Toulon site (France). The technical implementation of ARCA and ORCA is almost identical. The deep-sea sites are linked to shore with a network of cables for electrical power and high-bandwidth fibre-optic communication. On site, shore stations provide power, computing and high-bandwidth connections to central data repositories. The flexible and cost-effective detector design has major Dutch intellectual and technical contributions.
The collaboration has opted for a phased implementation of KM3NET. Phase-1 is covered by the currently available budget of about 31 M€. It includes a validation programme, partial construction of the sea-floor networks and the installation of 31 strings. The first string has recently been deployed. The recent proof that that the neutrino mixing angle θ13 is large, and the evidence by IceCube (South Pole) that high-energy cosmic neutrinos exist, enhances the scientific program and strongly motivates the next phase: KM3NeT 2.0. With this upgrade, a research infrastructure will be realised ideally suited for the discovery and subsequent observation of the sources of high-energy neutrinos in the Universe and for determining the mass hierarchy of neutrinos. KM3NeT also offers interdisciplinary opportunities for continuous, real-time measurements, e.g. for marine biology, oceanography or environmental sciences.
The Collaboration will complete the construction of ARCA and ORCA by 2020 (see section 5.a). The costs for this amount to 95 M€ in addition to that spent on Phase-1. The Collaboration aspires to establish a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) in the Netherlands. To establish the ERIC headquarters and to contribute to the implementation of KM3NeT 2.0, we plan to request an investment (13 M€) from NWO.
The strong case for KM3NeT has been recognized in the Roadmap of the Astroparticle Physics European Consortium (APPEC) and the current European ESFRI Roadmap. In addition, KM3NeT 2.0 is to be included in the 2016 ESFRI Roadmap. It is part of in the 2014 strategic plan of the Committee for Astroparticle Physics in the Netherlands (CAN) and the mission of Nikhef as defined in its strategic plan for 2011-2016. Importantly, the FOM foundation is a strong proponent of KM3NeT as detailed in their Strategisch plan 2015-2019. KM3NeT will help to address multiple questions of the Nationale Wetenschapsagenda, including #128, #130 and #12.
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