All machines need maintenance, even the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. CERN's Large Hadron Collider received its first major upgrade last week when engineers installed a new pixel detector, which is designed to capture and read the paths of sub-atomic particles. The team, working 300 feet underground, had to perform delicate maintenance, which has been likened to "open heart surgery," on a machine that is 66 feet long and 50 feet in diameter. And you thought your job was difficult.
According to Darren Orf for Popular Mechanics: "Earlier this morning, CERN engineers swapped out the Pixel Tracker in the Compact Muon Solenoid, a general-purpose particle physics detector built on a part of the 17-mile-long machine. Located more than 300 feet below the ground, this new pixel detector 'will improve CMS's ability to measure precise properties of the Standard Model,' according to CERN. Because this piece of equipment is so central to the CMS, technicians have described the process of replacing the detector as a 'heart transplant.'
The Pixel Tracker, which CERN has been working on for nearly five years, comes with 124 million sensors that can take pictures at 40 million times per second. Scientists then measure the position of the proton collisions to analyze what's happening and find more undiscovered particles. Needless to say, the stakes were high for a flawless installment operation."