We report a measurement of the proton-air cross section for particle production at the center-of-mass energy per nucleon of 57 TeV. This is derived from the distribution of the depths of shower maxima observed with the Pierre Auger Observatory: systematic uncertainties are studied in detail. Analyzing the tail of the distribution of the shower maxima, a proton-air cross section of [505±22(stat)-36+28(syst)] mb is found.
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