News: Auger Press Release
Tuesday, January 19, 1999
Media Contact: Dr. José Fco. Valdés Galicia
Task Leader for Education and Public Relations
Pierre Auger International Collaboration
Instituto de Geofisica, UNAM
04510 Mexico, D.F.
Auger Collaboration Finalizes Design Plans for Observatory
A meeting of the Pierre Auger International Collaboration took place in Morelia, Mexico during the week from 11 to 15 of January. The Collaboration is made up of scientists from 19 countries around the world that set itself the task of constructing the largest observatory of the world, with the aim of detecting ultraenergetic cosmic rays. Under the name of ultraenergetic cosmic rays we know the most energetic particles that reach the earth from places in the universe still unknown to mankind. The origin and properties of these particles are one of the great mysteries of contemporary astrophysics. To unravel these mysteries the International Collaboration was formed 4 years ago, whose membership today amounts to 250 scientists and engineers from 5 continents. The Observatory that they will construct will be located in two sites: one in the Northern Hemisphere (Utah, USA) and another in the Southern Hemisphere (Mendoza, Argentina), each of them covering 3,000 square kilometers.
Under the leadership of Prof. James Cronin, Nobel Prize in physics (1980), and Prof. Alan Watson, ProVice Chancellor of the University of Leeds, UK, and with the participation of 100 of the Collaboration members, coming from 13 countries, the last details of the design and technical requirements were agreed upon. Construction on the southern observatory site will begin later this year, with the ground breaking ceremony taking place on March 15 in Malargüe, Mendoza province, Argentina. President Menem will be there to preside over the ceremony. The southern observatory will begin operations by the end of 1999, although it will not be fully finished until the year 2004. The participation of 30 Mexican research workers has been crucial to reach this stage of the project.
Participants were satisfied by the progress made in the meeting and by the quality of the organization of the event. The support of the Government of the State of Michoacán and of the local University were crucial.
Participants returned home in high spirits and keen to keep up their work to unravel one of nature's great mysteries.