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Moving the Large Underground Xenon dark-matter detector from the surface laboratory, where it was assembled, to its underground home on the 4,850-foot level will be an exacting task. The one-of-a-kind LUX instrument must be kept level, the ride must be smooth and the weather, for the outdoor leg of the journey, must be perfect.

On Friday, the LUX team conducted two trial runs of that first leg—a distance of about 800 feet from the surface lab to the Yates Shaft headframe. Donovan Construction of Spearfish, S.D., is providing the forklift for this leg. Sanford Lab Facilities Technician Jake Quenzer, who constructed a transport cart for the LUX detector, used steel beams to assemble a 6,000-pound stand-in for the detector for use during trial runs.

Friday's short trip took about 45 minutes. Pat Wermers and Tanner Sealey of Donovan Construction monitored two digital levels on the transport cart, which was raised by a forklift. They used hand signals to direct forklift driver Woody Burns. "My sense is, this will be the smoothest part of the journey," Burns said.

LUX Operations Manager David Taylor said the goal was to keep the detector level "within plus or minus 1 degree." Taylor also had attached a pair of accelerometers to the mock detector to measure the acceleration forces (bumps) that the real detector might encounter. Friday's trials were successful on both counts—tilt and g-force.

Now the LUX team is planning the rest of the trip, Taylor said. That includes loading the detector onto the Yates Shaft conveyance, lowering the detector very slowly to the 4850 Level and moving it by rail (and on  Quenzer's custom-built cart) to the Davis Cavern. The LUX team will test the entire route with accelerometers before the detector itself is moved, sometime early this summer. "We need to learn how hard the jolts will be," Taylor said.