In Februray 2006, the Design Study for the infrastructure, funded by the EU FP6 framework, started.
The combination of the relatively low flux of high energy cosmic neutrinos and their weak interaction with matter implies the need for a very massive detector. The solution pursued is to instrument a large volue of deep-sea water with a three-dimensional array of photo-sensors detecting the weak Cherenkov light produced by charged particles emerging from neutrino interactions in the water or the seabed. In order to suppress daylight and background from muons produced in cosmic ray interactions in the Earth's atmosphere, the telescope must be operated at depths of several kilometres.
In designing a detector to be placed at the bottom of an ocean there are several difficulties that must be addressed: (1) The ambient hydrostatic pressure; (2) The corrosive environment of the seawater; (3) The distance from shore for the communication; (4) The force on the structure due to the sea currents; (5) The backgrounds due to downward going muons; (6) The backgrounds due to 40K decay. For the physical process of detecting neutrinos from sources near the Galactic centre there are additional requirements (a) optimal angular resolution of the reconstructed muon; combined with (b) a large sensitive area facing the Galactic centre.
During the Design Study these issues were addressed and technical innovations led to a design that will allow for networked neutrino telescope with an instrumented volume of more than 5 cubic kilometres for the targeted budget of 200 MEuro. A volume, more than a factor 5 larger than foreseen at the start of the design study for the same budget.
The Design Study was concluded in December 2009 with the internal approval of the Technical Design Report, which has been made public in March 2010. Click here for a pdf version.
The work in the design study was organised in nine different work packages. Each work package had its own coordinator and executive committee, responsible for the progress of the work in the package.