10 Mega Science Projects and Facilities

10. National Ignition Facility

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The National Ignition Facility, or NIF, is a large laser-based inertial confinement fusion (ICF) research device, located at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California. NIF uses lasers to heat and compress a small amount of hydrogen fuel to the point where nuclear fusion reactions take place. NIF’s mission is to achieve fusion ignition with high energy gain, and to support nuclear weapon maintenance and design by studying the behavior of matter under the conditions found within nuclear weapons.[1] NIF is the largest and most energetic ICF device built to date, and the largest laser in the world.[2]

Construction on the NIF began in 1997 but management problems and technical delays slowed progress into the early 2000s. Progress after 2000 was smoother, but compared to initial estimates, NIF was completed five years behind schedule and was almost four times more expensive than originally budgeted. Construction was certified complete on 31 March 2009 by the U.S. Department of Energy,[3] and a dedication ceremony took place on 29 May 2009.[4] The first large-scale laser target experiments were performed in June 2009[5] and the first “integrated ignition experiments” (which tested the laser’s power) were declared completed in October 2010.[6]

Bringing the system to its full potential was a lengthy process that was carried out from 2009 to 2012. During this period a number of experiments were worked into the process under the National Ignition Campaign, with the goal of reaching ignition just after the laser reached full power, some time in the second half of 2012. The Campaign officially ended in September 2012, at about 110 the conditions needed for ignition.[7] Experiments since then have pushed this closer to 13, but considerable theoretical and practical work is required if the system is ever to reach ignition.[8]

9. Copernicus Program

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Copernicus is the worlds largest single earth observation programme and directed by the European Commission in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA).[1][2] It aims at achieving a global, continuous, autonomous, high quality, wide range Earth observation capacity. Providing accurate, timely and easily accessible information to, among other things, improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security.[3] It follows and greatly expands on the work of the previous 2.3 billion euros European Envisat program which operated from 2002 to 2012.

Its cost during 1998 to 2020 are estimated at 6.7 billion euros with around €4.3bn spend in the period 2014 to 2020 and shared between the EU (66%) and ESA (33%) with benefits of the data to the EU economy estimated at roughly 30 billion euros through 2030.[4]ESA as a main partner has performed much of the design and oversees and co-funds the development of Sentinel mission 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 with each sentinel mission consisting of at least 2 satellites and some like sentinel 1 consisting of 4 satellites.[5] They will also provide the instruments for MTG and MetOp-SG weather satellites of EUMETSAT where ESA and EUMETSAT will also coordinate the delivery of data from upwards of 30 satellites that form the contributing satellite missions to Copernicus.[6]

The objective is to use multi-source data to get timely and quality information, services and knowledge, and to provide autonomous and independent access to information in relation to the environment and security on a global level. In other words, it will pull together all the information obtained by the Copernicus environmental satellites, air and ground stations to provide a comprehensive picture of the “health” of Earth. The geo-spatial information services offered by Copernicus can be grouped into six main interacting themes: land, ocean, emergency response, atmosphere, security and climate change.

8. International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor

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ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, and is also Latin for “the way”) is an international nuclear fusion research and engineering megaproject, which will be the world’s largest magnetic confinementplasma physics experiment. It is an experimental tokamak nuclear fusion reactor that is being built next to the Cadarache facility in the south of France.[1]

The ITER project aims to make the long-awaited transition from experimental studies of plasma physics to full-scale electricity-producing fusion power stations. The ITER fusion reactor has been designed to produce 500 megawatts of output power for several seconds while needing 50 megawatts to operate.[2] Thereby the machine aims to demonstrate the principle of producing more energy from the fusion process than is used to initiate it, something that has not yet been achieved in any fusion reactor.

The project is funded and run by seven member entities—the European Union, India, Japan, China, Russia, South Korea, and the United States. The EU, as host party for the ITER complex, is contributing about 45 percent of the cost, with the other six parties contributing approximately 9 percent each.[3][4][5]

Construction of the ITER Tokamak complex started in 2013[6] and the building costs are now over US$14 billion as of June 2015, some 3 times the original figure.[7] The facility is expected to finish its construction phase in 2019 and will start commissioning the reactor that same year and initiate plasma experiments in 2020 with full deuteriumtritium fusion experiments starting in 2027.[8][9] If ITER becomes operational, it will become the largest magnetic confinement plasma physics experiment in use, surpassing the Joint European Torus. The first commercial demonstration fusion power station, named DEMO, is proposed to follow on from the ITER project.[10]

7. Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment

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The Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE), formerly the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment (LBNE) is a proposed neutrino experiment with a near detector at Fermilab and a far detector at the Sanford Underground Research Facility which will observe neutrinos produced at Fermilab. It will fire an intense beam of trillions of neutrinos from a production facility near Fermilab (in Illinois) over a distance of 1,300 kilometres (810 mi) to an instrumented multi-kiloton volume of liquid argon located at the Sanford Lab in South Dakota. The proposed detector is to be about 12 metres (39 ft) across. Its goal would be to study neutrino oscillation and perhaps determine whether neutrinos are their own anti-particle, that is whether they are Majorana particles. Part of the path of the neutrinos would take them 30 kilometres (19 mi) underground (the beam itself will start 1.5 kilometres (4,900 ft) under the surface).[1]

The US has committed $1 billion to its development. The UK has announced that they will help fund the project and nine British universities will be involved.[1] These include Lancaster, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Cambridge, Oxford, and University College London.[citation needed]

It is planned to be operational in 2022.[citation needed]

6. International Space Station

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The International Space Station (ISS) is a space station, or a habitable artificial satellite, in low Earth orbit. Its first component launched into orbit in 1998, and the ISS is now the largest artificial body in orbit and can often be seen with the naked eye from Earth.[9][10] The ISS consists of pressurised modules, external trusses, solar arrays, and other components. ISS components have been launched by Russian Proton andSoyuz rockets, and American Space Shuttles.[11]

The ISS serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory in which crew members conduct experiments in biology, human biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology, and other fields.[12][13][14]The station is suited for the testing of spacecraft systems and equipment required for missions to the Moon and Mars.[15] The ISS maintains an orbit with an altitude of between 330 and 435 km (205 and 270 mi) by means of reboost manoeuvres using the engines of the Zvezda module or visiting spacecraft. It completes 15.54 orbits per day.[16]

ISS is the ninth space station to be inhabited by crews, following the Soviet and later Russian Salyut, Almaz, and Mir stations as well as Skylab from the US. The station has been continuously occupied for 15 years and 265 days since the arrival of Expedition 1 on 2 November 2000. This is the longest continuous human presence in space, having surpassed the previous record of 9 years and 357 days held by Mir. The station is serviced by a variety of visiting spacecraft: the Russian Soyuz and Progress, the American Dragon and Cygnus, the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle,[17] and formerly the Space Shuttle and the EuropeanAutomated Transfer Vehicle. It has been visited by astronauts, cosmonauts and space tourists from 17 different nations.[18]

After the US Space Shuttle programme ended in 2011, Soyuz rockets became the only provider of transport for astronauts at the International Space Station, and Dragon became the only provider of bulk cargo return to Earth services (downmass capability of Soyuz capsules is very limited).

The ISS programme is a joint project among five participating space agencies: NASA, Roscosmos, JAXA, ESA, and CSA.[17][19] The ownership and use of the space station is established by intergovernmental treaties and agreements.[20] The station is divided into two sections, the Russian Orbital Segment (ROS) and the United States Orbital Segment (USOS), which is shared by many nations. As of January 2014, the American portion of ISS is being funded until 2024.[21][22][23] Roscosmos has endorsed the continued operation of ISS through 2024,[24] but has proposed using elements of the Russian Orbital Segment to construct a new Russian space station called OPSEK.[25]

On 28 March 2015, Russian sources announced that Roscosmos and NASA had agreed to collaborate on the development of a replacement for the current ISS.[26][27] NASA later issued a guarded statement expressing thanks for Russia’s interest in future cooperation in space exploration, but fell short of confirming the Russian announcement.[28][29]

5. James Webb Space Telescope

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The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), previously known as Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST), is a major space observatory under construction and scheduled to launch in October 2018. The JWST will offer unprecedented resolution and sensitivity from long-wavelength (orange-red) visible light, through near-infrared to the mid-infrared (0.6 to 27 micrometers), and is a successor instrument to the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope. While Hubble has a 2.4-meter (7.9 ft) mirror, the JWST features a larger and segmented 6.5-meter (21 ft) diameter primary mirror and will be located near the Earth–Sun L2 point. A large sunshield will keep its mirror and four science instruments below 50 K (−220 °C; −370 °F).

JWST’s capabilities will enable a broad range of investigations across the fields of astronomy and cosmology.[5] One particular goal involves observing some of the most distant objects in the Universe, beyond the reach of current ground and space-based instruments, such as the formation of the first galaxies. Another goal is understanding the formation of stars and planets. This will include direct imaging of exoplanets.

In gestation since 1996,[6] the project represents an international collaboration of about 17 countries[7] led by NASA, and with significant contributions from the European Space Agency and theCanadian Space Agency. It is named after James E. Webb, the second administrator of NASA, who played an integral role in the Apollo program.[8]

The JWST has a history of major cost overruns and delays. The first realistic budget estimates were that the observatory would cost $1.6 billion and launch in 2011. NASA has now scheduled the telescope for a 2018 launch. In 2011, the United States House of Representatives voted to terminate funding, after about $3 billion had been spent and 75% of its hardware was in production.[9] Funding was restored and capped at $8 billion.[10] As of winter 2015–2016, the telescope remained on schedule and within the 2011 revised budget.[11]

4. Combat Zones That See

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I’m including this one for its sheer creepiness.

Combat Zones That See, or CTS, is a project of the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)[1] whose goal is to “track everything that moves” in a city by linking up a massive network of surveillance cameras to a centralized computer system.[2] Artificial intelligence software will then identify and track all movement throughout the city.[3]

CTS is described by DARPA as intended for use in combat zones, to deter enemy attacks on United States troops and to identify and track enemy combatants who launch attacks against U.S. soldiers.[2]

Civil liberties activists and writers of dystopian fiction believe that such programs have great potential for privacy violations, and have openly opposed the project.[2][4][5]

 

3. Square Kilometer Array

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The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is a large multi radio telescope project aimed to be built in Australia and South Africa. If built, it would have a total collecting area of approximately one square kilometre.[2][3] It would operate over a wide range of frequencies and its size would make it 50 times more sensitive than any other radio instrument. It would require very high performance central computing engines and long-haul links with a capacity greater than the current global Internet traffic.[4] It should be able to survey the sky more than ten thousand times faster than ever before.

With receiving stations extending out to distance of at least 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi) from a concentrated central core, it would exploit radio astronomy‘s ability to provide the highest resolution images in all astronomy. The SKA would be built in the southern hemisphere, in sub-Saharan states with cores in South Africa and Australia, where the view of the Milky Way Galaxy is best and radio interference least.[5]

Construction of the SKA is scheduled to begin in 2018 for initial observations by 2020, but the construction budget is not secured at this stage. The SKA would be built in two phases, with Phase 1 (2018-2023) representing about 10% of the capability of the whole telescope.[6][7] Phase 1 of the SKA was cost-capped at 650 million euros in 2013, while Phase 2’s cost has not yet been established.[8] The headquarters of the project are located at the Jodrell Bank Observatory, in the UK.[9][10]

2. Human Genome Project

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The Human Genome Project (HGP) is an international scientific research project with the goal of determining the sequence of chemical base pairs which make up human DNA, and of identifying and mapping all of the genesof the human genome from both a physical and a functional standpoint.[1] It remains the world’s largest collaborative biological project.[2] After the idea was picked up in 1984 by the US government when the planning started, with the project formally launched in 1990, and finally declared complete in 2003. Funding came from the US government through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as well as numerous other groups from around the world. A parallel project was conducted outside of government by the Celera Corporation, or Celera Genomics, which was formally launched in 1998. Most of the government-sponsored sequencing was performed in twentyuniversities and research centers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Germany, and China.[3]

The Human Genome Project originally aimed to map the nucleotides contained in a human haploid reference genome (more than three billion). The “genome” of any given individual is unique; mapping the “human genome” involves sequencing multiple variations of each gene.[4] In May 2016, scientists considered extending the HGP to include creating a synthetic human genome.[5] In June 2016, scientists formally announced HGP-Write, a plan to synthesize the human genome.[6][7]

1. Large Hadron Collider

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The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest and most powerful particle collider, the largest, most complex experimental facility ever built, and the largest single machine in the world.[1] It was built by theEuropean Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) between 1998 and 2008 in collaboration with over 10,000 scientists and engineers from over 100 countries, as well as hundreds of universities and laboratories.[2] It lies in a tunnel 27 kilometres (17 mi) in circumference, as deep as 175 metres (574 ft) beneath the France–Switzerland border near Geneva, Switzerland. Its first research run took place from 30 March 2010 to 13 February 2013 at an initial energy of 3.5 teraelectronvolts (TeV) per beam (7 TeV total), almost 4 times more than the previous world record for a collider,[3] rising to 4 TeV per beam (8 TeV total) from 2012.[4][5] On 13 February 2013 the LHC’s first run officially ended, and it was shut down for planned upgrades. ‘Test’ collisions restarted in the upgraded collider on 5 April 2015,[6][7] reaching 6.5 TeV per beam on 20 May 2015 (13 TeV total, the current world record). Its second research run commenced on schedule, on 3 June 2015.[8]

The LHC’s aim is to allow physicists to test the predictions of different theories of particle physics, high-energy physics and in particular, to further test the properties of the Higgs boson[9] and the large family of new particles predicted by supersymmetric theories,[10] and other unsolved questions of physics, advancing human understanding of physical laws. It contains seven detectors, each designed for certain kinds of research. The proton-proton collision is the primary operation method, but the LHC has also collided protons with lead nuclei for two months in 2013 and used lead–lead collisions for about one month each in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2015 for other investigations.

The LHC’s computing grid was (and currently is) a world record holder. Data from collisions was produced at an unprecedented rate for the time of first collisions, tens of petabytes per year, a major challenge at the time, to be analysed by a grid-based computer network infrastructure connecting 140 computing centers in 35 countries[11][12] – by 2012 the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid was also the world’s largest distributedcomputing grid, comprising over 170 computing facilities in a worldwide network across 36 countries.[13][14][15]

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