India’s largest underground laboratory, to study the evolution of universe, India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO), to be set up in tamilnadu. The central government on monday granted the big project to build India’s largest underground laboratory, at Pottipuram village in Bodi West Hills of Theni district, Tamil Nadu, according to an official statement. The world class laboratory to be built 1,300 meters below ground, is pegged as a ‘mega project’ under the 11th Five Year Plan with an allocation of Rs. 1,500 crore.
INO, the largest of its kind, is aimed to study atmospheric neutrinos produced by cosmic rays in the earth’s atmosphere. The neutrinos, tiny electrically neutral particles, which cannot be broken into further smaller pieces, are important to understand the evolution of the universe, energy production mechanisms in the Sun and other stars.
Neutrinos are the second most abundant particle in the universe after photon. They are charge-less and are almost massless.
According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison website, a majority of neutrinos were born around 15 billion years ago, soon after the birth of the universe. While the universe has continuously expanded and cooled, the original neutrinos have just kept going.
Other neutrinos are constantly being produced from nuclear power stations, particle accelerators, nuclear bombs, general atmospheric phenomena, and during the births, collisions and deaths of stars, particularly explosions of supernovae.
Coordinated by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), the INO is a collaborative project with 21 research institutes, universities and the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).
A giant 50, 000 tonne magnetized iron calorimeter detector will be kept under the laboratory to study the properties of neutrinos. The underground facility will be developed into a full-fledged science laboratory for other studies as well in physics, biology and geology which need special conditions existing deep underground.
Slated to be functional by 2022, the Neutrino Factory is similar to the Large Hadron Collider set up by the Geneva-based European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which is also an international collaboration, recreating the Big Bang that created the universe.
The project will train students pursuing science and engineering to engage in large-scale particle physics and astrophysics experiments across the globe.
The project will have international collaborations where physicists will participate in the observatory operations as well as study the data produced. Understanding the particle will help scientists pick the correct theory beyond the standard model of particle physics and address the problem of matter-antimatter asymmetry of the universe.
In addition, an Inter-Institutional Centre for High Energy Physics (IICHEP) will be established in Madurai, 110 km from the proposed INO site.
Meanwhile, the MDMK leader Vaiko on tuesday demanded that the proposed underground Neutrino project in Tamil Nadu’s Theni district be scrapped, claiming it would affect the environment in that area.
In his statement, he pointed out that the agricultural lands would be acquired to lay roads into the project venue and to dump waste material. The area would be deeply affected as they had to dig two huge tunnels by breaking the hill. This would not only affect the environment but also the mountain farming in that area, he concluded.