Mumbai: With the Union Cabinet clearing the Neutrino Observatory, INO, and India hopes to join the global high-end scientific club through it. Professor Naba K. Mondal, Project Director of the India-based Neutrino Observatory and Inter Institutional Centre for High Energy Physics told Indian Science Journal, it would open up avenues for experiments in high energy physics.
The Cabinet Committee on Security had cleared the project on December 26 last year, at an investment of Rs. 1,500 crores. It will be funded jointly by Department of Science and Technology and Atomic Energy, while Tamil Nadu government is helping with the infrastructure, said Prof. Mondal, on the sidelines of the ongoing Indian Science Congress in Mumbai.
Prof. Mondal said, India will also seek international participation in the project, so that it turns out to be an international hub for high-end research like the CERN in Geneva. He however, said, Indian participation will continue in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) project. “We have not done this kind of high-end physics projects in the past after the Kolar Gold Field project was closed down. So first we have to convince the global community that we are serious,” he said.
He further stated, “Now the formal approval for the project has come. We will really want to open the space for the international community, to come and participate in the experiments or even propose new experiments. The experiment that we are doing is only the first experiment. There can be other experiments like on the dark matters. So we would like to invite the international community to come here and join us and participate so that this centre becomes a global hub for such things.”
The underground project, which will come up near Pottipuram village in Theni district on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border will comprise a complex of caverns – the main cavern, which will house the current detector will be 130 meters long, 26 meters wide and 30 meter high. There will be two smaller caverns to be used for setting up experiments for neutrino double detector and dark matters, said Professor Mondal. The complex will be approached by a 2-kms long tunnel. Inter Institutional Centre for High Energy Physics will come up in Madurai, about 110 kilometres from the Observatory.
In 2012, senior CPI-M leader VS Achuthandan had flayed the then UPA Government for facilitating a “US agenda” through the Neutrino observatory. He, however, was misled and the project authorities were able to convince him about it, said Professor Mondal. He said, any apprehensions about the projects impact on habitation in and around the village was unfounded.
“The Neutrino that we are going to detect is there anyway. We will only detect and study its properties. Light from the Sun, stars and galaxies are there always. When you put a telescope, you detect it. Here also the Neutrinos are coming, we are only putting the detector underground,” he said.
He added, “We have to put it underground, because in the surface, there are other interactions, which will completely submerge the Neutrino event. That’s why we have to go deep underground, where other particles get absorbed and we can measure the Neutrino.”