The Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Lab) houses world-leading physics experiments that could give us a better understanding of the universe. Located at the former Homestake Gold Mine in Lead, S.D., Sanford Lab provides significant depth and rock stability—a near-perfect environment for experiments that need to escape cosmic radiation that can interfere with the detection of rare physics events. 

The Sanford Underground Research Facility supports world-leading research in particle and nuclear physics and other science disciplines. While still a gold mine, the facility hosted Ray Davis's solar neutrino experiment, which shared the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics. His work is a model for other experiments looking to understand the nature of the universe. The world-leading research taking place at the Sanford Underground Research Facility gives scientists from a variety of disciplines a wealth of information about the universe, the geology of the region and life underground. 

A Matter Mystery: The Big Bang - LIVE

It all started nearly 14 billion years ago when a singularity began expanding. Called the Big Bang, that tiny event would become a universe filled with planets and stars and intergalactic gases and comets and … well, a lot of other things. And it all happened in “a cosmic blink of an eye.”

“The Big Bang was a very small and very massive event. We don’t know exactly how it happened, or how we got here,” said Mark Hanhardt. “But the character of the universe likely was decided in the first few seconds.”

Mark Hanhardt

Mark Hanhardt

Mark Hanhardt is an experiment support scientist at the Sanford Lab, a Ph.D. student at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and a part-time supervillain. Mark fulfilled the role of Operations Manager for the LUX (Large Underground Xenon) dark matter search until its completion and now works as a researcher on the CASPAR (Compact Accelerator System for Performing Astrophysical Research) project.