This month is an important one for the COUPP-60 detector. In the race to detect dark matter, experimentalists want to go deeper and get bigger, and with COUPP-60, the COUPP collaboration is hoping to do just that. For the past two years, the COUPP-4 detector containing about 4 kg of target has been running 6800 ft underground at SNOLAB in northern Ontario. The deepest active underground lab in the world, SNOLAB is at the bottom of a nickel mine outside of Sudbury, Ontario. The great depth of the lab helps shield sensitive experiments like the COUPP bubble chambers from cosmic rays that would otherwise mimic dark matter events in the detector – and the deeper the lab is, the better. COUPP-4 has benefited from this depth to become the most sensitive direct detection experiment for spin-dependent dark matter, but to actually detect these elusive particles, more mass is necessary. The COUPP-60 detector will be a factor of ten to twenty larger. Having been commissioned at Fermilab over the past two years, COUPP-60 is now in the process of moving underground. This month, almost all of the equipment needed to run the experiment will arrive at SNOLAB and Fermilab scientists and technicians will be heading into the mine to start hooking things up. The chamber itself should arrive later in the fall, and we hope to be taking our first science data in the new year. It’s certainly an exciting time.
– Hugh Lippincott