The ATLAS collaboration, consisting of 174 institutions from 38 countries, completed construction of the large multi-purpose ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN and began data collection with colliding beams in 2010. The 44 institutions of U.S. ATLAS, with the support of NSF, made major and unique contributions to the construction and initial operation of the detector, and to the software and computing program development. This is enabling U.S. physicists to contribute significantly to physics analysis and associated publications. The U.S. ATLAS Operations Program aims to provide the necessary technical support for (1) the maintenance and operation of the U.S.-built detector subsystems;(2) the maintenance and ongoing development of software and computing, and (3), an R&D program for detector upgrades to accommodate accelerator performance improvements . Another component of the program is to provide a strong education and outreach effort.
Intellectual Merit: The goal of the U.S. ATLAS Operations Program is to empower U.S. physicists to address some of the most profound questions in particle physics today: what is the physical origin of mass? Do supersymmetric particles exist and are they associated with dark matter? Does space-time have extra spatial dimensions? Answers to these questions would provide a major advance toward completing a unified view of the particles in nature, the forces with which particles interact, and their role in the past and future of our universe. This is a time when particle physics researchers have compelling indications that the LHC, with collision energies far beyond those available at existing facilities, will lead to especially important discoveries with implications over a broad field of fundamental science.
Broader Impacts: This proposal will enhance the computing infrastructure for research, education and beyond. The LHC computing requirements are driving a paradigm shift towards global computing with potentially significant economic impacts, and our students will be at the forefront in using these new technologies. NSF-ATLAS groups continue to expand their education and outreach programs, with a particular focus on high school teachers and students and on outreach to under-represented populations. We plan on expanding our outreach efforts during ATLAS data taking, including the network of worldwide grid facilities. The LHC is the major accelerator-based program in which the next generation of physicists is being trained. Support for R&D activities will lay the groundwork for new technologies that might be adopted by other fields as well as train our graduate and undergraduate students. For U.S. physicists to be at the forefront of the physics discoveries, it is vital that the U.S. continue to be a leading participant in the scientific operational phase of the experiment.