Of the numerous examples of international cooperation, the partnerships with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN, physics) in Geneva, and the European Space Agency (ESA) deserve special mention. Many members of the faculty belong to one or more European or other international networks, giving them access to ideal partners and major research projects worldwide.
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Cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA)
The Faculty of Science is proud that its researchers are involved in not just one, but three important ESA missions:
LISA Pathfinder (Prof. Philippe Jetzer, physics) is a pilot study for the subsequent LISA mission, designed to detect gravitational waves. This, the scientists hope, will give them insights into the origins of the universe.
The Remote Sensing Laboratories (Prof. Michael Schaepman, Geography) are involved in two satellite missions, Sentinel 1A and Sentinel 2B. Their aim is to observe the Earth and provide data on soil moisture, terrestrial vegetation, changes in the courses of rivers, and the shape of coasts, etc.
The Fluorescence Explorer (FLEX) satellite mission (Prof. Alexander Damm-Reiser, Geography) will be launched in 2024 to fly in tandem with Sentinel-3. Mission data are expected to provide new insight into the functioning of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and related implications for the carbon and water cycling.
Gran Sasso Underground Laboratory
The Xenon program at the Gran Sasso Underground Laboratory
The Xenon program (Prof. Laura Baudis, Physics) at the Gran Sasso Underground laboratory is designed to directly demonstrate the existence of dark matter by using liquid xenon as a detector medium. In 2007, the magazine "Discover: Science for the Curious" ranked the Xenon experiment as one of the six most important experiments in the world.
Research Groups at CERN
The research groups headed by Prof. Florencia Canelli and Prof. Ben Kilminster (physics) are using the Large Hadron Collider at CERN to search for phenomena beyond the standard model of particle physics, to investigate the characteristics of the newly-discovered Higgs particle and how it may be a window to new physics, and to search for production of the dark matter that has been so-far only observed on galactic scales. Their group has helped construct a precision vertex detector for studying the production and decay of charged particles at CMS.
Two UZH research groups are involved in the LHCb experiment under Prof. Ulrich Straumann and Prof. Nicola Serra (physics). The Straumann group played a leading role in developing and building the LHCb Silicon Tracker, and is now responsible for running the detector and analyzing measurement data. The Serra group is using the LHCb detector in search of New Physics, in other words physics beyond the Standard Model. The focus is on rare decays of M mesons.
The Super Proton Synchroton (SIP) at CERN is being used to look for very weak interactions between long-lived particles, in particular sterile neutrinos (Prof. Nicola Serra, physics).