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KM3NeT blog posts

Welcome, ORCA-10!

22 November 2021 – Four new detection units have been added to ORCA with a 5-day intense and successful sea operation.

The operation has been performed with two ships: the Castor, equipped for deployment and precise installation of the detection units on the sea floor, and Janus, equipped with a remotely operated vehicle used for inspecting and for connecting the new units to the submarine infrastructure.

You can read all details of the operation in the daily reports published in our ORCA-blog.

Data taking with 10 detection units has been started!

One of the new detection units of ORCA outboard of Castor, preparing to its journey to the seafloor, 2,500 m below.

Sea campaign completed: 10 detection units in operation at ORCA!

November 22 – Excellent progress today, with the work finalized on the two detection units lately deployed: after a confirmation from the tests that both were ok, the unfurling was started of the two units. The launcher vehicles were safely recovered from the Castor; the ROV inspected both units after unfurling, confirming that both are in nominal configuration. A new functionality test was then performed from the shore station to ensure that both detection units work nominally.

As the sea condition rapidly degraded during the day, it was decided to quit the campaign. The remaining detection units on deck will be saved for next time.

The final outcome of the campaign is: ORCA enlarged from 6 to 10 detection units!

The KM3NeT Collaboration is grateful to the heroic teams who have made such great effort onboard the two ships and in the shore station, as well as to all institutes which contributed to the construction of the detection units. We look forward to the next deployment campaign. Having said that: it’s time to resume data taking with an enlarged ORCA-10 now!

Approaching the ORCA submarine junction box at 2,500 m depth – in the foreground is the connector that the ROV is preparing to plug on it.
The team onboard the Janus – on one of the screens is the sonar image of the ORCA telescope, showing the nodes and the detection units on the sea floor. Note that the operation was performed respecting all applicable rules for protection against COVID-19 – the team got so close together only for the purpose of the picture.
The team onboard the Castor showing the ’10’ sign in front of a recovered launcher vehicle.
The onshore team. The featured instrument is an Optical Spectrum Analyser, showing the signals of the 10 detection units of ORCA. Note that the operation was performed respecting all applicable rules for protection against COVID-19 – the team got so close together only for the purpose of the picture.

News from the ORCA campaign – hard work ongoing, bad weather approaching

November 21 – The weather forecast does not look promising for next days. The main effort today was spent on some tuning of the equipment and preparation to next steps.

The situation at the sea bottom is: two new detection units have been already added to the ORCA detector; a third one, after installation, connection and test, is awaiting unfurling, and a fourth one is also on the sea floor awaiting to be connected – next step will be to connnect this one.

The video shows the overboarding of the ROV from the Janus – this takes place by means of a so-called A-frame (the structure at the stern of the ship which, rotating, reaches outboard).

Two new detection units added to ORCA… and counting

November 20 – It was night and day again. The work continues around the clock when you are at sea. The second detection unit was also deployed, connected and tested last night. After that, unfurling was performed for the two detection units. A final test was then made from the shore to check that the two units are ok even after unfurling, et… voilà:  ORCA is enlarged to 8 detection units.

The campaign is now continuing with deployment of the next detection units; a third one is already on the sea bottom, connected and tested. A fourth one has been deployed in the evening: we will keep going until the deck is empty or the weather changes (the forecast is not ideal for next week): which of the two will happen first?

After unfurling of a detection unit, the launcher vehicle on which the unit is installed for deployment reaches the surface and is recovered for next campaigns.
Inspection of a detection unit, after touchdown on the sea floor (~2,500 m depth). The unit featured here is the fourth one which has been deployed in this campaign.

First day of activity at the ORCA site

November 19 – The first day of activity has gone at the ORCA site. Most efforts today were aimed at getting everything well prepared for the action. The first detection unit was then deployed to the sea bottom, precisely placed on the sea floor and connected to the submarine infrastructure. The tests performed from shore confirm that the dection unit is nicely working, and it now awaits to be “unfurled” to its work configuration. Deployment of the second detection unit has been started in the evening.

Today was also the last day of our joint ANTARES-KM3NeT online Collaboration meeting, which ended with a cheerful activity to enjoy each other’s company even from a distance – you can read more about the meeting here.

The tho ships in action at the ORCA site: Castor (in the foreground) is equipped for deploying and accurately placing the detection units on the sea floor, while the Janus (in the background) is equipped with a ROV for submarine connections.

The movie shows the overboarding of one of the new detection units of ORCA.



Online but happy collaboration meeting

19 November 2021 – Our collaboration met this week for its traditional Fall meeting – the 5th to be organised online. Despite the physical distance, we had lively and interesting exchange over the week. Many new data analyses were presented, and more than 120 participants connected to the sessions. The week ended by fun social events, and the wish to chat face to face, in-person at the next meeting.



We also welcomed new institutes in the Collaboration:
University of Sharjah, Abu Dhabi UAE; 
Lebedev Physical Institute, Russia;
UCLouvain, Belgium.

The new institutes will work on various topics ranging from neutrino astronomy to neutrino physics while contributing to the detector construction. Welcome in the collaboration!

Finally, we celebrated 6 months of ARCA data taking with 6 detection units! For the occasion, some of the artists in our collaboration prepared a 6hand piano piece. Enjoy!

New sea installation started for ORCA! Follow it from our blog

18 November 2021 – Right in the middle of the joint ANTARES and KM3NeT Collaboration meeting, which is taking place  – once again – online, a new sea campaign has been started for ORCA. Isn’t it the right way to show that a virus can’t stop science?

Today, November 18th, seven new detection units of KM3NeT, onboard the Castor ship of Foselev Marine, sailed from La Seyne sur Mer in Southern France to the KM3NeT/ORCA deep-sea site, about 40 km from the shore. The aim of the campaign is to deploy as many of them as the weather, which is not ideal in this season, will allow.

As in the past campaigns, two vessels will be used for the operation: the detection units will be deployed and precisely installed on the sea floor from the Castor, while a remotely operated vehicle will be maneuvered from the Janus of Comex.

We will document the activites of next days through our liveblog and over our social media channels.

Remain connected with us for this new, extraordinary challenge from the deep sea!

The deck of the Castor packed with detection units, while preparing to sail.

New sea campaign started for ORCA

November 18 – What a day! After a stand-by of 24 hours, due to uncertain weather conditions, the Castor and the Janus left the French coast headed to the KM3NeT/ORCA site. Ahead is one week of hard work to enlarge the deep-sea neutrino telescope.

Onboard the Castor are seven new detection units, carrying in total 126 optical modules, and one autonomous acoustic beacon. The Janus is instead equipped with a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), which will be maneuvered from the ship to perform the deep-sea action: inspection of the submarine structures and connections of the new detection units to the already installed submarine network.

As we write this post, the two ships are at the site and the operation is being started.

The Castor seen from the Janus – the acoustic beacon has been already deployed, preparation to deployment of the first detection unit is starting


Last pre-dive checks of the deep-sea ROV on the Janus




Welcome to the liveblog about the ORCA sea operation of November 2021

November 17, 2021 – KM3NeT is getting ready for a new sea operation at the ORCA site near the French coast of Toulon.

Seven new detection units for ORCA are already onboard the Castor ship which will be used for the deployment.
The ship is waiting for an improvement of the weather conditions to sail from the port of La Seyne Sur Mer.

We will report on this operation with posts in the social media and in the ORCA-blog.



Yahya Tayalati awarded the Mustafa Prize

13 October 2021 – The KM3NeT Collaboration is proud to announce that Yahya Tayalati, professor at University Mohammed V in Rabat, Morocco and member of the ANTARES and KM3NeT collaborations, has been awarded the prestigious Mustafa Prize.

The Mustafa Prize is a top science and technology award, granted biennially to the researchers and scientists of the Islamic world. Some of the criteria considered by the selection committee are the innovative and outstanding aspect of the research and the high scientific profile and international appreciation of the researcher. Professor Tayalati is receiving this prestigious award for his contribution in beyond standard model physics, especially the “Observation of the Light by Light Scattering and the Search for Magnetic Monopoles”. He was selected together with 4 other recipients among more than 500 candidates.

Yahya is the principal investigator of ANTARES and KM3NeT in Morocco. In addition to being one of the leaders of the dark matter group in the two collaborations, Yahya is leading integration activities for KM3NeT DOMs at two different sites in Morocco.

Video of the Rabat integration site aired on Al Araby TV, an international television network broadcasting in Arabic:

Heartiest congratulations, Yahya!