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Introduction

Recently, several large projects have been proposed related to the fundamental studies of various aspects of neutrino physics and astrophysics. First, a proposal to build IceCube, a cubic-kilometer-scale, high-energy neutrino detector, was submitted to the National Science Foundation (NSF), reviewed by the National Science Board, and recommended for funding. This project would be built at the South Pole, exploiting the large volumes of clear ice to make an extremely large volume detector for observing the secondary charged particle showers caused by high-energy neutrinos interacting with Earth’s mass. Second, three proposals have been recently submitted to develop a deep underground laboratory in the United States that would host a variety of proposed or planned experiments requiring the extremely low background environment provided by the overburden at a deep subterranean location. There has been long-standing interest in the development of such a laboratory in the United States. Recently, various ad hoc committees, long-range planning committees in particle and nuclear physics in the Department of Energy (DOE) and the NSF, and a National Research Council (NRC) panel exploring science opportunities at the interface between physics and astronomy1 have all endorsed the development of such a facility. Proposed sites

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Connecting Quarks with the Cosmos: Eleven Science Questions for the New Century, National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2003.



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1 Introduction Recently, several large projects have been proposed related to the fundamental studies of various aspects of neutrino physics and astrophysics. First, a proposal to build IceCube, a cubic-kilometer-scale, high-energy neutrino detector, was submitted to the National Science Foundation (NSF), reviewed by the National Science Board, and recommended for funding. This project would be built at the South Pole, exploiting the large volumes of clear ice to make an extremely large volume detector for observing the secondary charged particle showers caused by high-energy neutrinos interacting with Earth’s mass. Second, three proposals have been recently submitted to develop a deep underground laboratory in the United States that would host a variety of proposed or planned experiments requiring the extremely low background environment provided by the overburden at a deep subterranean location. There has been long-standing interest in the development of such a laboratory in the United States. Recently, various ad hoc committees, long-range planning committees in particle and nuclear physics in the Department of Energy (DOE) and the NSF, and a National Research Council (NRC) panel exploring science opportunities at the interface between physics and astronomy1 have all endorsed the development of such a facility. Proposed sites 1   Connecting Quarks with the Cosmos: Eleven Science Questions for the New Century, National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2003.

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for a deep underground laboratory have included existing but closed mines, new excavation, and operating mines or repositories. The magnitude and scope of these proposals provide both a significant opportunity and a serious challenge: the breadth of the proposals attests to the substantial excitement for the potential science at these major facilities but demands a careful assessment of this potential in the face of the large long-term costs and responsibilities. The obvious commonality between the two scientific initiatives included in the charge to the committee, IceCube and a deep underground laboratory, is that both explicitly involve neutrinos and both operate below the surface. A more accurate statement is that both deal with research requiring the detection of extremely rare phenomena. However, although neutrinos (or other rare phenomena) play a prominent role in both initiatives, the origins of the neutrinos, their energy range, and the science IceCube and a deep underground laboratory would address are very different. Furthermore, the two initiatives differ substantially in scope. The IceCube project is a specific, dedicated experiment exploiting the clear ice at the South Pole to construct a cubic-kilometer-scale detector for very high energy neutrinos from space. It addresses a variety of astrophysical problems and potential sources of high-energy neutrinos. In contrast, a deep underground laboratory would provide a general facility with attributes essential for a wide variety of important experiments for detecting neutrinos, rare decays, and extremely weak interactions. At this time, the specific experiments that might be conducted at a particular deep underground laboratory location have not been chosen, but the scientific questions they would address are evident. Organized largely along the lines suggested by the formal charge to the committee, this report outlines some of the general science common to both initiatives and provides some of the historical and international context for subsequent discussions in this report. Second, it identifies the major science potential of the IceCube project and discusses it in the context of other large-volume neutrino observatories. The report then describes the major science potential of a deep, underground national science laboratory, considering it in the context of ongoing international activities in these research areas. Finally, it presents the committee’s conclusions regarding the scientific merit of this research, the unique opportunities and capabilities of these two facilities, and the issue of possible redundancy between the two types of facility.