Jun 28, 2009

370 miles of underground science lab

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Far below the Black Hills of South Dakota, crews are building the world's deepest underground science lab at a depth equivalent to more than six Empire State buildings — a place uniquely suited to scientists' quest for mysterious particles known as dark matter.
The site is ideal for experiments because its location is largely shielded from cosmic rays that could interfere with efforts to prove the existence of dark matter, which is thought to make up nearly a quarter of the mass of the universe.
The deepest reaches of the mine plunge to 8,000 feet below the surface. Some early geology and hydrology experiments are already under way at 4,850 feet. Researchers also hope to build two deeper labs that are still awaiting funding from Congress.
Scientists hope to start construction on the two deepest labs by 2012 and open them by 2016. The projects are expected to cost $550 million.
    * Sanford Underground Lab: http://sanfordlaboratoryathomestake.org/
    * Homestake DUSEL: http://www.lbl.gov/nsd/homestake/