At the JINR STC meeting: about the progress on the NICA project

Organization, 26 June 2019

On 20 June, a joint meeting of the JINR Directorate and the JINR Science and Technology Council devoted to the establishment of the NICA accelerator complex was held in the International Conference Hall.

The meeting was opened by JINR Director Academician V. A. Matveev. He informed the audience about the completion of preparation of regulations related to the development of the system for certification of scientific personnel and the establishment of dissertation councils in accordance with the rights provided to JINR. In addition, he commented on the statement of Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev on Russia’s full membership in CERN made during his recent visit to CERN on 10 June 2019; and on issues and challenges facing JINR, if this decision is implemented.

Among the major challenges the Institute faces at the moment, Victor Matveev highlighted the necessity to increase the level of salaries. At the past CP session in March, Plenipotentiary Representative of Russia in JINR, Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation M. M. Kotyukov noted the necessity to increase salaries of scientific researchers in accordance with the decrees of the President of the Russian Federation. According to the JINR budget rules (the Charter of JINR), no more than 50% of the annual budget can be spent on salaries, so V. A. Matveev asked the leaders of laboratories to consider the possibility of adjusting the budget of research projects to increase the salaries of researchers and specialists. The salary level of leading scientists and specialists is “a direct indicator of the competitiveness of our scientific personnel,” noted the Director of JINR. This is even more important in view of a new aspect – the full membership of Russia in CERN proposed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev during his visit to CERN, and Russian citizens will have the opportunity to become full-time employees of the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Summing up the listed issues and problems, V. A. Matveev spoke about the necessity of in-depth analysis of the role and place of JINR in international cooperation of Russia and other JINR Member States, including those who are already members of CERN; and taking into account their findings in the development of a long-term strategy of JINR which would ensure an increasing role and importance of our international Institute in the global system of international cooperation and cooperation in the fields of fundamental and applied physics research.

R. Tsenov, S. N. Nedelko, I. A. Savin, V. D. Kekelidze, M. G. Itkis took part in the discussion.

Scientific Director of the NICA project, RAS Corresponding Member I. N. Meshkov presented the report “NICA Accelerator Complex – three tasks and three stages”. It presented a brief historical overview of the project – from the first theoretical proposal of experiments in JINR suggested by A. N. Sissakian, A. S. Sorin and V. D. Toneev to the idea of V. A. Nikitin on the establishment of a collider allowing the study of the phases of strongly interacting matter. During the project development, several options were considered, and now three stages of NICA are approved – the sequential launch of BM@N, MPD and SPD experiments. BM@N has already started, the first data were collected. Next tasks are the start of the MPD assembling and technological run at the Booster.

Among the obstacles that prevented the timely implementation of the project, Igor Meshkov noted the following: insufficient number of scientific and technical staff; discrepancy between the regulations of the Institute’s services and the dynamics of the project implementation; a one-year lag in construction of the 17th building, as well as delays in the reconstruction and repair of the infrastructure; the large workload of the preparation of project documents for obtaining permits for commissioning of facilities. Focusing in detail on each of these issues, the speaker outlined proposals to overcome the delay in the implementation of the NICA project. In addition, I. N. Meshkov gave a brief review on the 10th MAC-NICA Meeting, which took place on 5-6 June.

R. V. Jolos, V. A. Matveev, R. Tsenov, V. D. Kekelidze, A. V. Butenko, A. D. Kovalenko took part in the discussion of the report.

A report of Head of the VBLHEP Accelerator Department A. V. Butenko was devoted to the assembling of the Booster and channels, as well as the prospects of the BM@n experiment. In the introductory part, the speaker spoke about the main components of the facility, characteristics, sizes and location of accelerators, collider, sources, as well as about activities at each area. Andrey Butenko explained in more detail the work on the booster. At the moment, all superconducting magnets are tested and assembled, 90 percent of dipole magnets are also tested. Among the problems affecting the timing, A. V. Butenko noted large, up to 9 months, delays in the delivery of equipment, non-compliance of prototypes with requirements, technological features, breakdowns of complex equipment. The issue that is put on the agenda in all discussions – the acute shortage of qualified personnel – is appended with the necessity to get distracted by the preparation and maintenance of contracts. At the end of the report, V. A. Matveev, R. Lednický, S. N. Dmitriev, V. D. Kekelidze, V. N. Karpinsky delivered their comments.

Chief Engineer of the Nuclotron E. M. Syresin presented the third report “The NICA Collider and the channel Nuclotron-Collider –the state of art”. The speaker spoke about the size and parameters of the Collider, the amount and timing of the upcoming work. In particular, 426 magnets, 88 dipole magnets, and 90 quadrupole magnets are to be produced for the beam transport channel; the schedule of their testing was presented, as well as the layout. Development of the power supply system, the stochastic cooling system, and the beam output systems were also discussed in detail.

Commenting on the reports of these key participants of the “NICA Complex” accelerating programme and their remarks to those who are intended to contribute maximally to the success of the project V. A. Matveev first noted the significant successes and the increasing amount of work on the NICA project, which requires full dedication and professionalism of all participants, no matter what area they are responsible for. It is necessary to pay great attention and respect to the remarks that were made in the speech of research supervisor of the project I. N. Meshkov. Regarding the comments on the rules of procurement and the work of the JINR Central Procurement Commission, the principle of priority of reliability, quality and compliance with time commitments are already fully applied in the selection of contractors and suppliers. However, in order to ensure these conditions, to reduce the terms of preparation and conclusion of contracts, it is necessary to ensure the professional quality of applications for the purchase of scientific equipment and timely submission of accurate initial data for contractors. Recently, at requests of leaders of the project and the Capital Construction Department, the Director has to take decisions on postponing the execution of dozens of contracts due to the delay in submission of the necessary initial data and the necessary approvals with the customer. However, our objective is not to find guilty third parties. All persons responsible for the timely implementation of the project should analyze the causes of existing delays and inefficiencies to eliminate them. And the JINR Directorate will constantly deal with this together with the project management.

R. V. Jolos summed up the milestones of the meeting. The next meeting of the JINR STC will be held in October.

Galina Myalkovskaya, JINR weekly newspaper