SNOLAB Virtual Tour
SNOLAB (Sudbury Neutrino Observatory) is a world-class research facility for particle physics. It’s unique in that it is situated over 2km underground in an active mine site.
Why is it important for the lab to be situated so deeply underground?
Much of the research done at SNOLAB is about detecting different particles: neutrinos and dark matter particle candidates are two of the top priorities currently. On the surface of the Earth, detectors would be in constant bombardment with all sorts of different particles – alpha particles, beta particles, photons, muons, molecules, just to name a few! You can check out the cloud chamber exhibit to see just how common it is to be experiencing these particle interactions. All of these particle interferences are not desired when attempting to study the rare interactions of dark matter particle or neutrino contacts, so scientists need a lab that can eliminate as much background noise as possible.
The solution to this is to cover the lab with a large insulating layer to ensure that most particles get stopped along the way to the detector, and thus only allowing the neutrino or desired particle to get through. SNOLAB was built 2km underground so that all the earth above the lab acted as a shielding agent against those extra particles, stopping many cosmic rays and background particles. It was built in an active mine site, and to get there you need to put on your mining gear, travel down the mine shaft, and then walk for 1.5km before getting cleaned off and entering the lab site!
In this exhibit, you can take a virtual tour of the lab, exploring different experiments and seeing what the lab looks like. There are many experiments currently at SNOLAB, with others still in development. You can see a list of all the neutrino experiments working and planned here and the experiments working on dark matter here.
The video playing in the corner of the Visitor Centre is taking a tour around SNOLAB while discussing some of the ongoing experiments and what researchers are working to detect. You can also continue with the virtual tour of SNOLAB here on your device and follow along with some of the different experiments on the From Deep Space to Deep Mines boards. You can click on any of the numbered red locations and be shown a 3D photo to explore around. You can also look in the bottom right-hand corner to learn a little bit more about each stop of the virtual tour, or click on any information symbols to learn a fact about some of the technology and engineering behind building this lab.