KM3NeT - Research

Blog for highlights during day-to-day KM3NeT research activities such as pitches for new papers, talks and posters during international conferences and (internal) workshops, comments on events in astroparticle physics and particle physics etc.

New paper: Deep-sea deployment of the KM3NeT neutrino telescope detection units by self-unrolling

20 November 2020 – The KM3NeT Collaboration has published a new paper, in which we describe in detail the innovative deployment method for KM3NeT detection units.

No standard moorings

A custom design was necessary, because the KM3NeT mooring – the detection unit -is different from moorings typically used for oceanography.

For instance, in KM3NeT moorings the instrumentation is contained in transparent and thus unprotected glass spheres. That makes them vulnerable during deployment. Moreover, we use a long, thin and soft tube with optical fibres and thin copper wires for data transmission and electrical power for the instruments. That makes the units even more vulnerable.

On top of that, because we use thin Dyneema ropes as strength members in stead of a standard steel cable the mooring is not strong enough to carry the weight of the anchor during deployment.

All this makes it more difficult to deploy the unit without breaking it and we needed a customised deployment method.

Different from other telescopes

Compared to other neutrino telescopes such as ANTARES in the Mediterranean Sea and GVD in Lake Baikal, we designed the KM3NeT detection unit even more slender to minimise the amount of material used for support of the sensor modules. An other – economical – difference is that we have to deploy hundreds of units more for KM3NeT in a period of a few years while keeping the costs for sea operations at a minimum. These are even more reasons for innovation of the deployment method.


We developed a custom-made, fast deployment method. Despite the length of the detection unit of several hundreds of metres, we managed to compact it into a small, re-usable spherical launching vehicle instead of deploying it weight down from a surface vessel – the standard method in oceanography. We dubbed the vehicle LOM for Launcher of Optical Modules.

The tric

Once the LOM has reached the seafloor, the innovative tric begins. The buoyant LOM rolls upwards along the Dyneema ropes. While doing so, it spits out the glass spheres with instrumentation attached to the ropes. As a result, while floating to the surface, the LOM leaves the detection unit behind at the seabed, unfurled to its full vertical length. Ready for data taking during many years to come.

Cost effective

The LOM has two economical advantages. First, it does not take a lot in space. Therefore, during a sea operation many LOMs can be stored on deck of a ship. Secondly, we can lower the LOM to the seabed at high speed. As a result, we need less expensive ship time for the installation of the KM3NeT telescope.


As far as we know, the method of compact deployment of moorings with a LOM is unique. The method is the result of close cooperation between engineers and scientists in the KM3NeT Collaboration from both oceanographic and astrophysics institutes. We hope it will inspire oceanographic scientists for the design and deployment of their future moorings.


In the paper, we describe the details of the design of the LOM, the loading with a detection unit, and its underwater self-unrolling. You find the reference below.

LOM in pictures

Pictures below reflect the  process from idea to realisation. First an impression of the initial ideas for deployment by @Marijn van der Meer/Quest. Followed by the technical design of the KM3NeT detection units that must be installed and the design of the LOM launcher vehicle. Finally, photos of the first prototype of the LOM and the final version that is now regularly used for the installation of the detection units of the ARCA and ORCA detectors of the KM3NeT telescope.




Deep-sea deployment of the KM3NeT neutrino telescope detection units by self-unrolling

The KM3NeT Collaboration: S. Aiello et al 

2020 JINST 15 P11027

New paper: Using convolutional neural networks for event reconstruction for ORCA

12 October 2020 – The KM3NeT Collaboration has published a new paper that aims at demonstrating the general applicability of deep convolutional neural networks to neutrino telescopes, using simulated datasets for the KM3NeT/ORCA detector as an example. To this end, the networks are employed to achieve reconstruction and classification tasks that constitute an alternative to the analysis pipeline presented for KM3NeT/ORCA in the KM3NeT Letter of Intent. They are used to infer event reconstruction estimates for the energy, the direction, and the interaction point of incident neutrinos. The spatial distribution of Cherenkov light generated by charged particles induced in neutrino interactions is classified as shower- or track-like, and the main background processes associated with the detection of atmospheric neutrinos are recognized. Performance comparisons to machine-learning classification and maximum-likelihood reconstruction algorithms previously developed for KM3NeT/ORCA are provided.

The conclusion is that this application of deep convolutional neural networks to simulated datasets for a large-volume neutrino telescope yields competitive reconstruction results and performance improvements with respect to classical approaches.


Event reconstruction for KM3NeT/ORCA using convolutional neural networks


New paper: gSeaGen software tool

13 July 2020 – The KM3NeT Collaboration has published the details of gSeaGen, a simulation software package for efficient generation of neutrino events for the analysis of  measured light signals in the KM3NeT telescopes.  Monte Carlo simulations play an important role in the data analysis of neutrino telescopes. They are used to design reconstruction algorithms for neutrino events and to estimate cosmic and atmospheric signals in various physics analyses.

The new gSeaGen  software  tool is based on code of the GENIE Collaboration which aims at developing a global software platform for the Monte Carlo simulation of neutrino interactions with energies up to PeV scales. Currently, the GENIE simulation code focuses mainly on events in the low-energy range (5 GeV) and  is valid up to 5 TeV.

As described in the paper,  the gSeaGen tool allows for the generation of electron, muon and tau neutrino.  Its application for the KM3NeT telescopes is described in detail.

KM3NeT Collaboration, S. Aiello, et al.,  Computer Physics Communications 256 (2020) 107477

New paper: The Control Unit of the KM3NeT Data Acquisition System

17 June 2020 – The KM3NeT Collaboration has published a new paper about the control unit of the data acquisition system. The data acquisition control software  of KM3NeT is operating both the off-shore detectors in the deep sea and in the lab the testing and qualification stations for detector components. The software, named Control Unit, is highly modular. It can undergo upgrades and reconfiguration with the acquisition running. Interplay with the central database of the Collaboration is obtained in a way that allows for data taking even if Internet links fail. In order to simplify the management of computing resources in the long term, and to cope with possible hardware failures of one or more computers, the KM3NeT Control Unit software features a custom dynamic resource provisioning and failover technology, which is especially important for ensuring continuity in case of rare transient events in multi-messenger astronomy. The software architecture relies on ubiquitous tools and broadly adopted technologies and has been successfully tested on several operating systems.

KM3NeT Collaboration, S. Aiello, et al., Computer Physics Communications 256 (2020) 107433,, arXiv:1910.00112v1


KM3NeT Town Hall meeting

17-19 December 2019, KM3NeT Town Hall meeting in Marseille to promote our amazing multi-messenger programmes.

Website with programme.





Stay tuned!

First keynote speakers

After the general introduction by the KM3NeT Spokesperson Mauro Taiuti, the Deputy Spokesperson Aart Heijboer will present the expected performances of KM3NeT detectors and Dorothea Samtleben will show the first data from KM3NeT.



Workshop on simulation and data analysis

23 January 2019 – An internal KM3NeT workshop on ‘Simulation and Data Analysis’ was organised at INFN – Istitutio Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare in Genova, Italy. In the last two years the ARCA and ORCA sites were equipped with the first detection units which allowed for obtaining the first calibration data. The data comprises many measurements of muons created in the atmosphere. These measurements, although background to the neutrino signal, are extremely useful for the understanding of the detector performance and improving detector calibration and simulations of the detector response. The aim of the workshop was to review the currently existing simulation software tools and tuning them to reach agreement with the collected data on a new precision level.

Simulation of background events comprises very computationally intensive tasks, which must be run on the GRID and cloud infrastructures. For this, automatic workflows for the software deployment and running on different computer infrastructures were discussed and tests have been started. The simulation workflows also should keep provenance of the data to allow for repetition  and tracing of each simulated event. Automisation of the quality control of the data and simulation is yet another key task addressed at the workshop.