The KM3NeT Project for a Very Large Submarine Neutrino Telescope
The groups presently pursuing neutrino telescope projects in the Mediterranean Sea, ANTARES, NEMO, and NESTOR, have formed the new KM3NeT consortium to study the construction of a cubic kilometre-scale neutrino telescope for the Northern hemisphere. This challenging project will require the installation of thousands of photon detectors with their related electronics and calibration systems several kilometres below the sea level. The realization of this project will provide the scientific community with a very powerful instrument to study many astrophysical objects, including supernova explosions, active galactic nuclei, gamma-ray bursts and possibly also dark matter. Numerous instruments of different types (photon detectors, hydrophones, compasses, tilt-meters, etc.) will be connected through electro-optical cables to form a very large network of sensors operating in a difficult environment. The construction of this detector will require the solution of technological problems common to many deep submarine installations, and will help pave the way for other deep-sea research facilities. In April 2008 the KM3NeT consortium has reached the important milestone of the publication of the Conceptual Design Report (CDR) for the KM3NeT telescope. The European Union – funded 3 year Design Study phase has now passed its mid-way point and will culminate in 2009 with the writing of the KM3NeT Technical Design Report (TDR), detailing the most promising technologies and the expected physics performance of the future detector. Concurrent with the publication of the CDR an EU funded Preparatory Phase began which will lead to the telescope construction. Aspects of the KM3NeT project related to deep-sea infrastructure, deployment and operation are reviewed in this report.
Keywords: Neutrino telescope, Deep sea infrastructure, Photon detectors, Underwater acoustic triangulation, Calibration systems, Readout electronics, Data transmission, Monitoring of deep sea environment.