INO prototype magnet (Photo Credit: INO)
India is gunning to become a science powerhouse. Last year the country launched a successful Mars orbiter, Mangalyaan, established itself as an interplanetary nation. Now India is taking on the world of particle physics, building the world's largest magnet to hunt for one of the universe's most elusive particles, the neutrino.
Neutrinos are byproducts of radioactive decay and cosmic rays; they carry no charge, have only a sliver of mass, and can pass right through matter. As a result, detecting neutrinos is tricky. So the India-Based Neutrino Observatory will go where it's easiest to spot neutrinos: 4265 feet underground, where interactions from other particles will be relatively low and won't cloud the data.
Four times the size of the , the INO's weighs in at 55,116 standard tons (50,000 metric.) At that depth, strength, and proximity to the equator, it will be able to spot neutrinos created by solar winds that pass through the Earth entirely, and may provide clues to other cosmic mysteries, like .