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ARCA enlarged with 3 new detection units!

14 September 2021 – the ARCA telescope is now enlarged with 3 new detection units.

The procedure for installing a detection unit in ARCA is as follows: firstly the detection unit is lowered from the deck of the ship. When it reaches a low level above the sea floor, the ROV (the submarine vehicle operated from the ship) comes in play: it takes a bridle and helps to guide the detection unit to its target position on the sea bottom; it also rotates it so that the panel for connection of the submarine cable faces the direction of the submarine junction box. Only at that point, the detection unit is lowered on the sea floor. After a quick visual check, the ROV detaches the deployment line. The ROV then picks up the cable which had been previously routed on the sea bottom and which is connected to the junction box on the opposite end, and plugs it to the detection unit. Then the onshore team is asked to perform a first round of test to ensure that the detection unit meets its functional requirements. After that, the ROV opens a release mechanism that lets the deployment vehicle on which the detection unit is furled free to go. The vehicle is buoyant and starts coming up; while doing so, it rotates, leaving the detection unit, which is tied to the anchor on the sea floor, upright – a sort of giant, and reversed yo-yo!

After unfurling, the deployment vehicle is recovered from the ship, to be reused for next deployments.

A final test of the newly installed and unfurled detection unit is then performed to confirm that the detection unit works as expected.

This happened three times today!

An optical spectrum analyzer is used in the shore station for a check of the quality of the communications with the detection unit (almost 100 km away, 3,500 m deep). Each signal (in the form of a peak) in the plot corresponds to one of the optical modules of the detection unit. Believe it: when this plot appears on the screen of the instrument, it is a fantastic reward for all the hard work done in the sea campaign and before!











A very busy day, offshore and onshore

13 September 2021 – Still a day packed of activities today!

The status at the moment is that all interlink cables have been layed down on the sea floor and two detection units have been deployed and connected to the junction box. The detection units are still furled on their launcher vehicles; they will be allowed to unfurl tomorrow – since the launcher vehicle has to be recovered from the ship after it reaches the surface, it is better to perform this operation in the daylight.

Pre-unfurling functional tests performed from the onshore control station show that those first two detection units are in good order.

Deployments of the next detection units will continue during the night.

The onshore team in the control station at Portopalo di Capo Passero, Sicily, Italy.









Good progress, despite adverse sea condition

12 September 2021 – there has been good progress in the operation so far!

The two cable reels are also deployed. The cables for connecting four detection units are already layed on the sea bottom and connected to the junction box. There is only one cable left to install.

While proceeding with these activities, however, the weather conditions worsened. The sky was still sunny, but waves mounted high: “We have a lot of sun here, but we are dancing a lot” commented Daniele Vivolo, who is among the KM3NeT team onboard the ship.

In such situation the risks when putting the equipment in water increase significantly. It was therefore decided to put the operation on hold, waiting for an improvement of the sea state.

In late afternoon, the sea had calmed down significantly, and the operations were resumed.

As we write this post, the first detection unit of the set of five included in this campaign is already in water, travelling into the deep, dark sea, down to 3,500 meters depth. There it will meet the ROV (the submarine vehicle operated from the ship), which will take care of the next steps: to assist in carefully positioning the detection unit on the sea bottom and to connect it to the cable already in place. Have a safe trip!

In the movie: the first detection unit is prepared for deployment.

First day of deployments at the ARCA site

11 September 2021 – operations are proceeding smoothly on Handin Tide.

The two new optical beacons of the positioning system are already placed on the sea bottom – these are autonomous devices not requiring a connection to the sea-floor network.

The deployment of the two reels carrying the long interlink cables for the detection units is proceeding. Installation of these cables requires time, because once a reel has reached the sea bottom, each cable has to be spooled off and layed down on the sea floor. These cables will be later used for connecting each detection unit to the submarine junction box which is already at the site (and connected to the 6 detection units already installed).

Once installation of the cables is completed, the deployment of the detection units can start – tomorrow!

The deck of the Handin Tide at the start of the operations (note that the yellow vehicle on the left is the Remotely Operated Vehicle – ROV – to be used for underwater operations).











Liveblog about the ongoing sea operation for ARCA

10 September 2021 – In the evening of September 10, five new detection units of KM3NeT, onboard the Handin Tide, will sail from Malta headed to the KM3NeT/ARCA detection site. This site is located 80 km off the coast of Capo Passero, Sicily (Italy). During a 1-week operation, the detection units will be deployed and connected to the ARCA neutrino telescope at 3,500 m depth, adding up to the six already in operation.

The expectation is high for this new, important step in the construction of KM3NeT. Despite the pandemic, the Collaboration has worked hard to keep the high integration speed needed for such an ambitious project. The detection units include components prepared in various European laboratories, and also the integration, testing and installation of the units on their deployment vehicles was a joint effort of many different KM3NeT teams.

As we write this note, the detection units are safely restrained on the deck of Handin Tide, the ship crew and the KM3NeT offshore team are onboard and ready, and the ship is about to set sail. Onshore, everything is ready in the control station in Portopalo di Capo Passero. The motivation, everywhere, is very high.

We look forward to several days packed with hard work and documented with extraordinary images from the sea surface and the deep sea.

Follow the action while it takes place through our social media channels and our ARCA-blog!



The detection units awaiting deployment on the deck of Handin Tide. Note that the equipment has been already prepared in the order in which it will be moved off the ship: first, two tripods carrying an acoustic beacon each (partially visible in the picture) for the acoustic positioning system, then the reels carrying long cables for connection to the existing submarine network on the sea floor, then the detection units.

Handin Tide left the harbour of Malta

10 September 2021 – the Handin Tide left the port of Malta around 5 p.m. CEST.

The navigation to the KM3NeT site is estimated to take about 10 hours.

The weather forecast is good. The activity on site will start early morning tomorrow.

Keep following the  ARCA-blog.

Liveblog about the sea ARCA campaign of September 2021

09 September 2021 – KM3NeT is getting ready for a new sea operation at the ARCA site near Sicily, Italy.

Five new detection units for ARCA are ready to board the ship in the harbour of Malta.
The ship is scheduled to set sail in the evening of 10 September 2021.

We will report on this operation with posts in the social media and in this liveblog.


KM3NeT at ICRC2021

29 July 2021 – The International Cosmic Ray Conference (ICRC) has come to an end after two intense weeks.

The biannual conference organised under auspices of IUPAP, the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics. This year, the 37th edition of the conference was organised as an online version by DESY Zeuthen in Germany. The KM3NeT Collaboration participated in the conference with many contributions accepted by the International Science Committee of the conference.

Paschal Coyle, Spokesperson of the KM3NeT Collaboration, was invited to present a review talk on underwater neutrino telescopes, including obviously KM3NeT, but also its older sister ANTARES, the GVD telescope in Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia and the new initiative P-ONE offshore the coast of Canada in the Pacific Ocean:


Five more talks covered the very first results obtained with ORCA and ARCA, as well as the prospects for neutrino oscillation measurements and mass ordering determination. With only 6 detection units ARCA6 sees candidates for atmospheric neutrinos; with only 6 detection units ORCA6 sees the effect of oscillation:

In addition, more than 20 poster contributions were presented by the members of our Collaboration. Among them, Thijs van Eden and Jordan Seneca, two PhD students at Nikhef, Amsterdam, who were awarded the best poster prize for their contribution discussing reconstruction of single and double cascade in KM3NeT. Congratulations Thijs and Jordan!



In memoriam

Giorgos Androulakis

(1978 – 2021)


With shock and great sadness the KM3NeT Collaboration learned that our colleague and dear friend Giorgos Androulakis passed away suddenly on the 9th of July 2021, aged 43.


Giorgos joined KM3NeT in 2014 as a member of the NCSR “Demokritos” in Athens, Greece and from the start he became deeply involved with the construction of the detectors. In 2017, he took over as the QA/QC Manager of the Collaboration, coordinating the activities for quality control during detector construction and operation and managing a team of local quality supervisors at the institutes involved in the detector construction. He was a key long-term member of the KM3NeT Management Team and the Steering Committee.

Giorgos was unfailing in his help to the institutes when setting up their facilities for the detector construction, to help understand the origin of problems when they arose, and to support people with the intricacies of the database. On the management side his careful following of non-conformities and probing questions would often lead us to an understanding and a solution for the issue of the day. His logical approach, insight and sage advice was invaluable for many important decisions.

The recent successes of the collaboration in the construction of the seafloor infrastructures and detection units owes so much to his skills, dedication and hard work.

Giorgos was greatly appreciated by all the members of the collaboration; he was the oil that kept us all moving smoothly in the right direction. Many of us mourn a good friend. Personally, I will certainly miss our discussions over a few beers after a hard day at the Collaboration meeting and especially his unique and ironic sense of humour.


On behalf of the KM3NeT Collaboration I would like to express our sincere condolences to his family and friends at this difficult time.


We will miss him dearly.


Paschal Coyle, Spokesperson KM3NeT Collaboration


Yet another virtual spring meeting

A few weeks ago, KM3NeT held its two-week long spring meeting, once again virtually, like almost all meetings nowadays.

With twelve detection units operating in the ARCA and ORCA detectors, it was a joy to discuss the progress of the data analysis groups and prepare for the reports at the summer conferences. With our smooth network of almost twenty production sites new detection units are being prepared at the maximum speed that the COVID-19 restrictions allow. New deployment campaigns are in preparation.

Although at a distance, we felt close to each other thanks to the virtual coffee breaks in the gather town set up by our colleagues of Laboratoire de Physique Corpusculaire de Caen (many thanks!). We concluded the meeting with an exciting quest to fix the unexpected problems found in a virtual shift room: this was a run against the clock to find out the password to get free from the locked room and reconvene for a final party at the bottom of the sea – real shifts won’t ever be so hilarious!

As usual, the meeting was also the occasion to welcome the many newcomers and to remind the accomplishments of those that are leaving the collaboration for a next step in their professional career. Thanks a lot for your work for KM3NeT. We wish you all the best and success in your  new working environment!

We sincerely congratulate Diego Real whose PhD thesis was recently awarded an important prize of the Spanish Society of Astronomy!

We were pleased to welcome new teams from the University of Toulon and Institut de Ciències del Mar in Barcelona – both aim at new investigations in the deep-sea environment and have already collaborated with the ANTARES telescope and the NEMO pilot project in the Mediterranean.

Among the new activities announced at the meeting: an Open Science Committee has been established, while the representatives of our early-career-scientists put forward a plan for making the life of our youngest collaborators easier even in these difficult times.

It was a fruitful and pleasant meeting!

The call for an institute to organise the next Collaboration meeting in the fall has been opened – hopefully the next meeting will be in person?