LHC: Collisions on course for 2007
In the LHC tunnel and caverns, a particle accelerator and detectors are rapidly taking shape. At last week's Council meeting, delegates took stock of the year's progress towards first collisions in 2007. After passing the mark of 1000 magnets installed in the LHC in September (photo), the 1000th dipole magnet was installed on 10 December, making a total of 1388Â magnets in place.
An air of calm reigns over the magnet assembly and test facility at SM18 and SMA18. At the end of this week, its work will be largely complete with just a few LHC magnets remaining to be assembled, tested and made ready for operation. The familiar fields of blue dipoles around the CERN sites are steadily emptying as magnets are moved into place in the tunnel. In the latest of a series of notable milestones, the 1000th dipole was installed on 10 December, bringing the total number of installed magnets to 1388, almost 80% of the total. At the beginning of 2006, the big issue was pushing the magnet installation rate above 20 per week. As the year draws to a close, a peak rate of 30 per week has been achieved, and the last main magnet is scheduled to be in place by March. The Council meeting of December 2006.
With installation proceeding apace, thoughts can turn to commissioning the machine. In October, the final sector of the cryogenic distribution line was formally accepted, having successfully passed the acceptance tests. This paves the way for the first cool-down of a complete sector of the machine. Although just one eighth of the LHC, the fully-equipped sector from points 7 to 8 will be the world's largest operating cryogenic installation when it is cooled down to operating temperature early next year.
This fact alone gives a feeling for the unprecedented scale of the LHC project, and as with any ground-breaking project, there have been hurdles to overcome. Earlier in the year, it was the electrical distribution feed boxes (DFBs) that were giving cause for concern. DFB production is now firmly established, and all components will be delivered by early 2007. More recently, part of the cryogenic system of one inner triplet magnet failed a pressure test, but a solution is under study. High on the critical path is the interconnection of magnets and subsequent testing to ensure that every cable is correctly connected. This is painstaking work, but so far it is proceeding to plan.
In the experimental caverns, the critical date is 31 August 2007. This is the latest date when the LHC beam pipe ring is scheduled to be closed and the experiments will no longer be able to install large components. All are confident of reaching this milestone. At point 1, some 90% of the ATLAS barrel muon chambers are installed, and the first spectacular muon endcap wheel is in place. At point 5, the first four large pieces of CMS are now underground. Both detectors have recorded data with cosmic rays, demon-strating that their systems will be ready for physics. At points 2 and 8, installation is also progressing well for ALICE and LHCb. And the final part of the puzzle, the LHC computing grid, is already offering a baseline service, right on schedule for a full service next year.
The year 2006 has been a busy, but exciting, one for CERN. As it draws to a close, the LHC project is in good shape. Hurdles have been overcome, and the project is proceeding smoothly towards collisions in the LHC by this time next year.
Professor T. Åkesson was elected President of Council from 1 January 2007.
Professors G. Herten and B. Sitar were elected as Vice-Presidents of Council.
Dr M. Steinacher was elected as Chairman of Finance Committee.
Mr C. Van Riel was elected as Chairman of TREF.
Mr B. Dormy was elected as Vice-Chairman of TREF.
Professor K. Peach was re-elected Chairman of the Scientific Policy Committee.
Professors P. Braun-Munzinger and F. Zwirner were appointed as new members of the Scientific Policy Committee.
Professors A. Blondel, P. Dornan, R.-D. Heuer and A. Zalewska were re-elected as members of the Scientific Policy Committee.
Mrs D. Duret and Mr S. Lettow were appointed as Vice-Chairmen of the Governing Board of the pension fund.
Senior staff nominations:
Mr S. Lettow assumes the function of Chief Financial Officer on 1 January 2007.