Cutting-edge control center: Foundation stone laid for high-performance FAIR control center


The construction for the FAIR Control Center (FCC) has begun. The start of work is an important step in the construction of the international accelerator center FAIR (Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research) and marks a decisive moment for one of the largest construction projects for research worldwide. On March 29, 2022, the symbolic laying of the foundation stone for the new building took place on the construction site directly at the western entrance to the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt. It was an honour for GSI/FAIR to receive the Federal Minister of Education and Research, Bettina Stark-Watzinger, the Hessian Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and the Arts, Angela Dorn, the Hessian Minister of Finance, Michael Boddenberg, and Jochen Partsch, Lord Mayor of the Science City of Darmstadt, on this occasion. When completed, the FAIR Control Center will be a crucial hub of the entire infrastructure on the GSI/FAIR campus.

The FAIR accelerator facilities will provide particle beams of unprecedented intensity and precision, enabling scientist to perform unique experiments to gain new insights into the structure of matter and the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang to the present. Therefore, an integrated state-of-the art control center is needed to control and monitor the extremely complex accelerator facility. The control tasks will be performed by a specialized accelerator operation team exploiting sophisticated software tools including AI based processes. The future Main Control Room (MCR) is significantly larger than the existing main control room at the GSI facility, which is suitable to serve the GSI facilities but could no longer meet additional space and technical requirements for FAIR. The FAIR facility is about four times as large as the existing GSI facility and will enable the realization of a significantly higher number of experiments. In addition, with FAIR the parallel operation of experiments increases.

In addition to the main control room, more than 200 new scientific office workplaces will be established in the building, as well as meeting rooms for experiment collaborations and a visitors' gallery. The five-story FAIR Control Center, partial with basement, has a total gross floor area of approximately 6000 square feet.

At the same time as the foundation stone is being laid, FAIR's scientific program is already in its first stage of implementation, the so-called "FAIR Phase 0". Here, the researchers are using the GSI accelerator facilities, which have been significantly improved for their later use as pre-accelerators for FAIR and will be further technically upgraded. Thanks to the detectors and instrumentation already developed by the large international FAIR collaborations and the improved particle accelerators, it is already possible to enter new physics territory.

During the foundation stone ceremony, high representatives from politics, both the federal government and the state, as well as from science and the building industry gave greetings and symbolically laid the foundation stone for the FCC. The Scientific Managing Director of GSI and FAIR, Professor Paolo Giubellino, emphasized the great potential FAIR offers for research worldwide: “FAIR will open up outstanding research for decades involving a world-wide scientific community. With the FAIR facility, researchers from all over the world will be able to investigate key questions about the structure of the universe by producing the fundamental processes in the laboratory, but also to advance applications in medicine, materials research, and IT, for example. FAIR is also an ideal education site for the next generations of scientists and engineers. The current research program FAIR-Phase-0 already offers excellent research programs; in the coming years, FAIR will progressively enter into operation opening unique opportunities for science and technology.” (BP)

Statements on the foundation stone ceremony

Bettina Stark-Watzinger, Federal Minister of Education and Research, says: “The establishment of FAIR emphasizes Germany’s outstanding position in basic physical research. The construction of facilities like FAIR is an investment in the future of our country. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research supports FAIR in becoming a magnet for the world’s best scientists. Today’s laying of the foundation stone together with the federal state of Hesse is another important step in this direction.”

Angela Dorn, Hessian Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and the Arts, says: “FAIR is a worldwide unique facility, which is also of outstanding importance for the Hessian research landscape. The particle accelerator will allow to study the structure of matter and the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang to the present. It is about fundamental knowledge, about whatever holds the world together in its inmost folds, as well as about developing new applications for technology and medicine. The international collaboration of the global research community on this project is an important foundation for its success, but it also holds challenges in light of the current world situation. We welcome the FAIR Council's constructive engagement with them to realize this outstanding scientific facility."

Michael Boddenberg, Hessian Minister of Finance, says: “The laying of the foundation stone for the FAIR Control Center creates the basis for groundbreaking scientific findings. It forms the interface to the international FAIR project and will sustainably strengthen our science and business hub through cutting-edge research. Together with the Federal Government and in cooperation with its international partners, the Hessian State Government has always supported GSI's research operations and the construction of FAIR. I would like to thank all those involved in the project who have contributed to the fact that we can celebrate this important construction progress together today.

Jochen Partsch, Lord Mayor of the Science City of Darmstadt, says: “The pioneering FAIR Control Centre project confirms our location's qualities as an important reference point for top international research and will boost research and science to a new dimension. I am proud to witness that the City of Science Darmstadt is further opening the door to the universe and offering the unique opportunity to conduct cutting-edge research.”

Volker Pohlschmidt, Managing Director of Bauunternehmung Karl Gemünden GmbH & Co. KG, says: “As the executing shell construction company for the construction of the FAIR Control Center FCC, we would like to thank you for the opportunity to participate in this seminal building. We consider ourselves very fortunate that the public sector trusts in our range of services. It represents an important contractor for us, especially in times of crisis."

About FAIR

The international accelerator center FAIR, which is currently being built at GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung, will be one of the largest and most complex accelerator facilities in the world. The centerpiece is the ring accelerator SIS100 with a circumference of 1100 meters, which has already been completed in its structural shell. Connected to this is a complex system of storage rings and experimental stations. The existing GSI accelerators serve as pre-accelerators. Engineers and scientists work together in international collaborations to drive forward new technological developments in many areas, for example in information technology or superconductivity technology. In the future, about 3000 researchers from all over the world will be able to conduct cutting-edge research at FAIR. In outstanding experiments, they will gain fundamental new insights into the structure of matter and the development of the universe.

Further information

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