Skip to main content

Preparatory Phase for a Deep Sea Facility in the Mediterranean for Neutrino Astronomy and Associated Sciences

Periodic Report Summary - KM3NET-PP (Preparatory phase for a deep sea facility in the Mediterranean for neutrino astronomy and associated sciences)

Project context and objectives:

In the framework of KM3NET-PP, the strategic, legal and financial issues are addressed related to the construction of a European deep-sea infrastructure housing a cubic kilometre size Cherenkov neutrino telescope and providing access for deep-sea research.

The project follows a design study (KM3NeT) where the main technical issues were addressed, arriving at the definition of the technical solutions that can be adopted for the construction of the research infrastructure. The KM3NET-PP project will provide the grounds to bring the project to its construction stage.

The consortium performing the preparatory phase includes the participants involved in the KM3NeT design study. The major stakeholders are present. The work to be performed in KM3NET-PP is structured in work packages (WPs) aimed at addressing the following issues:
- political convergence towards a pan European facility;
- legal, governance and financial engineering;
- strategic issues and international networking;
- integration with regional and global marine and environmental systems (i.e. EMSO);
- preparing the production of the telescope components and the assembly and test of the system;
- definition of the data handling and dissemination scheme, and the operation of KM3NeT research infrastructure (RI).

The primary objectives of the KM3NET-PP project are:
- to facilitate the political convergence process in matters of site selection, legal and governance issues and financial arrangements;
- to choose the appropriate legal form and governance model;
- to compare the physics performance, technological implications and time-scale issues related to different options for the construction phase;
-to prepare the plans for mass production of the core telescope components and of the deep-sea infrastructure;
- to create a framework for the handling and distribution of the data produced by the neutrino telescope;
- to assess the impact of the KM3NeT research infrastructure.

Project results:

The first period of the project (from 1 March 2008 to 31 August 2009) has been mainly devoted to setting up the project organisation. Although the project started on 1 March 2008, the definition of the grant agreement and its finalisation took several months, causing a delay in the effective start of the activities, in particular for what concerned the possibility of hiring dedicated personnel. Beginning 2009, the plan of work has been revised and the grant agreement amended accordingly.

Most of the milestones planned for the first period were met in due time. It should be reminded that an essential input, in particular for what concerns the technical work to be pursued in the preparatory phase, is represented by the technical design report produced by the KM3NeT design study project. Some delays in the preparation of this document have had a direct consequence also on the preparatory phase activities. Consequently, some milestone scheduled in the first period will be completed with a few months delay.

To facilitate the convergence process towards the realisation of the KM3NeT RI, an administrative standing committee, in which all the main agencies participating in KM3NeT are represented, has been established. The work of this committee has proceeded efficiently. Up to now, problems concerning the convergence on technical issues have been discussed and an agenda of actions to be taken has been outlined. Site issues will be discussed and assessed in the near future.

Potential impact:

Critical issues addressed in the project are:
- to resolve the absence of adequate decision making mechanisms through which the national and regional political and financial priorities will be reconciled with scientific and technological considerations. Once these mechanisms have been set up (in WPB), and start to operate with input from WPC1, WPC2, WPC3 and WPD, work towards multilateral agreement on the joint implementation of the infrastructure will be pursued in a structured environment;
- to structure the technological and financial interplay of the KM3NET RI with the EMSO infrastructure, also on the ESFRI roadmap. WPE is dedicated to this issue:
- to prepare the industrial planning for the KM3NeT RI that has to proceed in the absence of a host organisation (such as CERN) providing expertise and advice. This task is dealt within work packages WPF, WPG, WPH, WPL and WPM;
- to provide data and the required computational resources to the user community (inside and beyond the KM3NeT consortium) and to prepare the control mechanisms for the operation of the KM3NeT RI, again in absence of a centre such as CERN providing the corresponding services. This issue is addressed in WPI and WPN;
- the impact of the KM3NET-PP project and, beyond that, of the KM3NeT RI on the European Research Area (ERA) will be assessed in the framework of WPN.

Beyond the importance of the KM3NET-PP project for the KM3NeT RI itself, it will play an important role in consolidating the Europe-wide coordination of astroparticle physics projects, in particular by demonstrating for a prime pilot example of a large European research infrastructure Europe's success as an 'incubator', providing invaluable support up to the implementation step. The KM3NeT project is recognised by the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) on their roadmap of 2006, and it is strongly supported by the Astroparticle Physics European Coordination (APPEC) in the roadmap 'Astroparticle physics in roadmap'. This latter roadmap is currently being evolved to a priority list of astroparticle physics projects in Europe under coordination of the ERANET project ASPERA initiated by APPEC. The KM3NeT consortium is well represented in this ongoing process, and the KM3NET-PP project will provide the basis for reinforcing the KM3NeT interests in the overall Europe-wide science coordination and at the same time help to shape European science policy by providing immediate communication with the relevant political instances.

List of websites: http://www.km3net.orgas