Abstract: "Critical Point and Beyond: the NA61/SHINE Experiment at CERN SPS" Marek Szuba for the NA61/SHINE Collaboration

It is now believed that the phase boundary between the hadron gas and the quark-gluon plasma is not uniformly 1st-order, but changes to a smooth crossover for low baryochemical potential. This suggests the presence of a critical point of the second order, separating the two regions. Physics programs are now underway at the CERN SPS and BNL RHIC whose goal is to investigate the nature of the phase transition and observe this critical point. The NA61/SHINE experiment is planning to perform a comprehensive energy and system size scan at the SPS in order to achieve a number of goals: observation of the critical point and study of the onset of deconfinement, investigation of high-p_T phenomena at SPS energies, measurements of hadron production in p+C interactions needed for the T2K neutrino and Pierre Auger cosmic-ray experiments. The NA61/SHINE facility is based on the NA49 detector, sporting a number of upgrades in both hardware and software. The pilot run took place in 2007 and first results are expected soon.