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Last week researchers from the DIANA project set up portable Helium 3 counters on the 4100 Level of the Sanford Lab to measure neutron backgrounds.

DIANA? Dual Ion Accelerators for Nuclear Astrophysics?is a collaboration of Notre Dame University, the University of North Carolina, Western Michigan University, Colorado School of Mines, Michigan State University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. 

?Nuclear astrophysics is concerned with the origin of elements in stars and stellar explosions,? Notre Dame physicist Andreas Best told Deep Thoughts. DIANA will use two relatively small particle accelerators to mimic the nuclear reactions in stars. Those reactions, however, have low energies and low event rates. On the surface of the earth, cosmic-ray muons would drown the signals, which is why DIANA will go underground.

Neutrons from the natural radioactive decays in surrounding rock also could interfere with signals from DIANA. The collaboration already has measured neutron backgrounds at the Soudan Underground Laboratory in Minnesota and at the Kimballton Underground Research Facility near Virginia Tech. Best said the collaboration would use those measurements and data from the Sanford Lab to confirm where best to locate DIANA.