Over the weekend, Russian scientists lowered a series of detectors between 2,500 and 4,300 feet below the surface of Lake Baikal (trans Phys.org). Together, these sensors form Baikal Gigaton volume detector, The largest underwater space telescope in the northern hemisphere. It will help scientists to study neutrinos. While neutrinos are one of the most abundant particles in the universe, they are also the smallest particles currently known to humans. They can also travel long distances without interacting with any other forms of the substance. These factors make it difficult to detect and study, but they can teach us a lot about The history of the universe.
A joint venture between Russia, Germany, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, construction of the Baikal-GVD began in 2015. The actual “telescope” consists of hundreds of spherical units made of glass and stainless steel attached to the surface by a set of cables. These sensors currently occupy 17,657 cubic feet of space. Over time, the plan is to add more sensors to make the telescope even larger.
As for why these modules are placed underwater, they are a useful way to detect neutrinos, and Lake Baikal contains a lot of them. Located in southern Siberia, it is one of the largest and deepest freshwater lakes in the world. It is also clear and covered in ice for at least two months a year. There aren’t many places on the planet that are perfect for this type of search like Lake Baikal. The only two other telescopes that match the scale are Ice Cube Neutrino Observatory In Antarctica and Antares A deep underwater telescope in the Mediterranean Sea.