This week will be a very busy and I will probably be putting in a lot of long hours. We are running again a series of experiments as part of the AirFly collaboration. This collaboration is part of a larger project under the Auger Observatory.
The AirFly people have been at our facility a few times. We collaborate with them at our accelerator beamline by provide them a high-quality electron beam with energies ranging from 3 MeV to 14 MeV. What they do with these electron beams is have them pass through air and nitrogen gas at several different pressures to measure the fluorescence created by the electron beam as it passed through. They then use the fluorescence (light in the UV range) to calibrate their instruments that will be part of the Auger Observatory detector. The energy range that our facility can provide fills in the gap in the fluorescence data that currently exists.
This is one of the few times that outside collaborators come in to use the electron beam that we can generate. There have been other astrophysics experiments done here, and other groups using our accelerators to test their beam diagnostic techniques. So even though we have an accelerator experimental facility that we currently use to study advanced accelerator physics, often the quality of our facility becomes very enticing for our group outside of our field to want to use it. While we can't simply open it up to anyone that want to use it (we are, after all, not a user facility, and we have a primary mission for our existence), it is still interesting that we can accomodate such requests quite often. Not only that, we also become collaborators in these external projects and are listed in the authors list when papers are published.
It's a win-win situation, really. :)